Gaining Trust and Understanding Through Empathy

group of people huddling

– Professor Richard Jun Hong Lu JP

Counselling is an important process in psychology. As what we think has a series of positive and negative effects on our minds and behaviours, the counselling model is thus divided into different types of counselling for patients. In general,the patient is treated by understanding the patient’s behaviour, cognition, culture and by analysis of their minds. Hence, in psychology, doctors mainly provide multifaceted counselling for behaviours, including those related to emotions and consciousness.

A doctor should have both sympathy and empathy in the process of counselling their patients. The most important thing is to be able to feel what they feel, to ‘walk in their shoes’, so that the patient understands that you are communicating with them from their perspectives. Thus, you are able to uncover their inner consciousness and change their present awareness.

In addition, as an expert in psychology, you must cultivate empathy. This means that you need to continually be sensitive to the patient’s circumstances and perspective and at the same time refrain from expressing your personal opinions. Continually make them feel that you empathise with how they feel during their session and let them feel that you can accept their feelings and perspectives.In psychology, empathy trains your reflection skills. To give a simple example, the therapist is like a mirror. When the patient says, “This person makes me crazy, I feel like hitting him,” the therapist can then say, “Indeed, this situation is maddening, if I were you, I would probably do the same”. The patient then says, “But I do not know how to end this”. At this point, the therapist should say, “This situation makes you feel confused. Indeed, if I were you, I would also feel a sense of defeat”. After you have gained the trust and understanding of the patient, your words will have a greater cathartic effect on their emotions. At this point, through the process of reflection, you can help them feel that this world is easily understood because these situations have long since existed in this world. In Buddhism, this is known as “acting in accordance with karmic conditions”.

Today, I have talked about empathy. Continually using empathy in counselling and accepting empathy in return is, in clinical psychology, the multifaceted thinking brought about by back-and-forth communication. Only then can the doctor and the patient share points of view on an emotional level.