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The Empathic Counsellor

One cannot make empathy, one can only live it and emanate it. Counsellors must like people and must have developed the talent of mentally and emotionally tapping into the internal world of people who are, in part, very different from themselves. To equate the world of other people (unconsciously) with one’s own (“In your place I would do it like this!”), is a characteristic of poor counselling. In counselling, this leads to unreflected advice (shadow management), which is often well received by the client and, therefore, does not seem problematic. Empathy is a resonance, a tactful way to tap into the experiencing of another. It revolves around expressing how one shares thoughts and sympathises, whilst affirming, through dialogue, whether the client can recognise himself and feel connected in that which one expresses. The experiencing of empathic connectedness is so important with many of the client’s issues, because inhibition, negation, concealing, ignoring, or projecting of needs usually became necessary due to a lack of empathy, i.e. such dysfunctional patterns were formed as a reaction to unadapted or missing attunement.