Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

Living Edition
| Editors: Marc Gellman, J. Rick Turner


Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6439-6_107-2



Empathy is the ability of a person to perceive, understand, and accept the experiences of another. It is having the capacity to identify with another’s feelings without actually experiencing the situation. In a healthcare setting, it is often therapeutic for clients going through difficult situations to have healthcare professionals that can be empathetic to their situations.

Empathy is different than sympathy, which is concern or pity for another person generated by a subjective perspective. Oftentimes this subjective perspective is a barrier to problem solving. The most therapeutic approach to clinical situations is often an objective empathetic approach.


Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

References and Further Readings

  1. Lamm, C., Batson, C. D., & Decety, J. (2007). The neural basis of human empathy: Effects of perspective-taking and cognitive appraisal. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 19, 42–58.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Lewis, S. L., Heitkemper, M. M., Dirksen, S. R., O’Brien, P. G., & Bucher, L. (2007). Medical surgical nursing: Assessment and management of clinical problems (7th ed.). St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.Google Scholar
  3. Potter, P. A., & Perry, A. G. (2009). Fundamentals of nursing (7th ed.). St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of NursingUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Allina Health SystemSt. PaulUSA