Thursday, June 11, 2009

Understanding Empathy

A good part of my doctoral dissertation focused on getting to the bottom of what is most powerful to bring about healing and growth in people seeking assistance. As a Counselor I called these folks, CLIENTS. However, in the world of change it is anyone seeking assistance to alter a behavior.

One of the most important aspects of healthy Helping is EMPATHY. Mr. Obama said he was looking for a judge who would be "Empathetic" with the poor and downtrodden. What did he mean?

Possibility 1. Empathy means to feel the pain of the poor. It means to identify with their plight and act to relieve it with favorable rulings.

Possibility 2. Empathy means to understand the poor and accurately describe it in a way that they know they are understood.

What think you? Did Obama want Ms. Sotomayor to actually "Feel the pain of the poor and try to relieve it with special rulings in their favor" or "Accurately understand their plight but apply the law with justice?

Gary Sweeten

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