Can Empathy Be Taught? – Robert Moss

For anyone who has done clinical supervision of graduate students, there is no doubt that there are wide variations in the “natural” abilities of students to utilize warmth, genuineness, and empathy in therapy sessions. The ability of the therapist to convey to a client that there is an accurate perception of his/her emotional state entails both an accurate labeling and description by the therapist. However, those with the more “natural” abilities also display both non-verbal (e.g., facial expressions) and vocal (i.e., tone, inflections, and volume of voice) behaviors that reinforce what is said. So the answer to the big question from my perspective is that “what is said” is much easier to teach than is the “how it is said.”