The Need for Empathy in a Therapeutic Relationship

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Is Empathy a prerequisite for a good Therapeutic relationship? If so, what is the optimal degree of Empathy required for a positive Therapeutic outcome? In the recent years, much emphasis is placed on understanding what "ingredients" in Therapeutic relationship contribute to a positive outcome. Many researchers have attempted to separate essential aspects of the Therapeutic relationship. Rogers (1957) quoted three essential aspects that were vital to attain a "psychological climate" in where a client could reorganize himself. These aspects were characterized as genuineness in the relationship, acceptance of the client (warmth), and accurate empathic understanding of the clients’ phenomenal world. Findings of previous studies shows that these three aspects are separate and can be measured independently (Bergin, 1967; Truax, Wargo, Frank, Imbe, Battle, Hoehn-Saric, & Stone 1966). Therapeutic relationship is defined as the collaboration and attachment between the client and therapist that focuses on meeting the health care needs of the client (Bordin, 1979). In this relationship, the therapist without prejudice shows Empathy, insight, understanding and acceptance of the client. Duan and Hill (1996) defined Empathy as “feeling into” the experience of the client. Over the years, the research evidence keeps piling up, and indicating a high degree of Empathy in a Therapeutic relationship is possibly one of the most potent factors in bringing about positive outcome in the therapy

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