Training the Client to Be Empathetic

  • Joseph R. Cautela
Part of the Applied Clinical Psychology book series (NSSB)


The assumption that the nature of the relationship between the therapist and client is an important factor in the therapeutic process and outcome has led to much theoretical speculation and research on possible relationship variables that may have therapeutic relevance. The assumed importance of empathy on the part of the therapist has led to efforts to ensure empathetic characteristics by focusing on empathy training for the therapist. However, while much has been written about the importance of the nature and degree of empathy of the therapist, there has been little focus on the empathetic characteristics of the client. Further, there has been little discussion and research on the necessity of training the client to have appropriate empathy, which will facilitate relief of presenting symptoms and increase quality of life. Orlinsky and Howard (1986) did not find any studies where client empathy was included within a process outcome study. There are a number of therapeutic values in having the client be appropriately empathetic in daily living. The result of empathy training should lead to improving the human condition, not only of the one being trained, but also of many others who come into contact with the client. The advantages of teaching empathy to the client can include the following:
  1. 1.
    Clients will:
    • be better able to predict the responses of others

    • increase tolerance toward others

    • reduce aggression toward others

  2. 2.
    Empathy training will:
    • help in conflict resolution

    • help therapy be more effective

    • help reduce objectionable behaviors such as teasing of others

    • lead to action in helping others, for example, charity, food donated, money donated, giving car rides, taking care of the sick

    • promote maturity and self-differentiation



Operant Conditioning Target Behavior Golden Rule Behavioral Rehearsal Theoretical Speculation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph R. Cautela
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Behavior Therapy InstituteSudburyUSA
  2. 2.Harvard University Health ServicesCambridgeUSA

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