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Empathy

Elliott, Robert and Bohart, Arthur C. and Watson, Jeanne C. and Greenberg, Leslie S. (2011) Empathy. In: Psychotherapy relationships that work. Oxford University Press, New York, pp. 132-152. ISBN 0199737207

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PDF (Elliott, R., Bohart, A.C., Watson, J.C., & Greenberg, L.S. (2011). Empathy. In J. Norcross (ed.), Psychotherapy relationships that work (2nd ed.) (pp. 132-152). New York: Oxford University Press.)
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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.