Empathy

Robert Elliott, Arthur C. Bohart, Jeanne C. Watson, Leslie S. Greenberg

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

366 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

After defining empathy, discussing its measurement, and offering an example of empathy in practice, this chapter presents the results of an updated meta-analysis of the relation between empathy and psychotherapy outcome. Results indicated that empathy is a moderately strong predictor of therapy outcome (mean weighted r = .30) but revealed considerable nonrandom variability. The empathy–outcome relation held equally for different theoretical orientations. Client and observer perceptions of therapist empathy predicted outcomes better than therapist perceptions of empathic accuracy measures, and the relation was strongest for less experienced therapists. We conclude with practice recommendations, including endorsing the different forms that empathy may take in therapy.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPsychotherapy relationships that work
Subtitle of host publicationevidence-based responsiveness
EditorsJohn C. Norcross
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherOxford University Press
Pages132-152
Number of pages20
Edition2nd
ISBN (Print)0199737207
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011

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Keywords

  • empathy
  • psychotherapy
  • outcome
  • meta analysis

Cite this

Elliott, R., Bohart, A. C., Watson, J. C., & Greenberg, L. S. (2011). Empathy. In J. C. Norcross (Ed.), Psychotherapy relationships that work : evidence-based responsiveness (2nd ed., pp. 132-152). New York: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199737208.001.0001