WEDNESDAY, MAY 18, 2022.
TOPIC: BASIC COUNSELLING SKILLS: EMPATHY.
Scripture References: Luke 7:11-16 & Romans 12:15.
In December 2016, the empathetic story about a young street beggar, John Thuo in Nairobi, Kenya went viral when he came into contact with Gladys Kamande who was being driven to solicit support for her surgery. John approached the vehicle and realized that she constantly relied on an oxygen concentrator, oxygen cylinders, and a generator to breathe, carrying the supplies with her at all times. Not only that, the 32-year-old had gone through 12 surgeries; one surgery ruptured her optical nerve causing her to go blind. The curious John asked what all of her gadgets were for. As she explained her situation to him, his eyes welled with tears.
He began to cry, realizing that– as difficult as his life on the street may be; Gladys had it so much worse than him. John wished her well and reached into his pocket and gave her all the money he had. From the text, Jesus also observed a widow about to bury her only son, how traumatizing that could be. Sensing her pain (the NLT says that) Jesus’ “heart overflowed with compassion”.
This means that Jesus understood what the widow was going through and so was prepared to offer every support. He approached the funeral procession and resurrected the young man. Compassion, sympathy, and empathy all have to do with having passion (feeling) for another person because of his or her suffering. Having lived a human life, our Lord Jesus Christ can and does empathize with all our pains, sufferings and weaknesses.
Empathy means experiencing someone else’s feelings. It requires an emotional component of really feeling what the other person is feeling. Sympathy, on the other hand, means understanding someone else’s suffering. Some of the ways a counsellor can convey empathy by matching facial expression and physical movement.
Other things therapists (counsellors) can do to show empathy towards their clients include: not interrupting the client, not dismissing the client’s beliefs, not being judgmental, and not talking too much in general. It is only when you can really be open, clear, sensitive to the emotions and feelings of the other that authentic care begins.
Prayer Guide: Lord Jesus grant me the grace to empathize with people I encounter. Amen.
Memory verse for this week: Proverbs 11:14 – “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.”