Ten approaches for enhancing empathy in health and human services cultures.

 1. Improving Interpersonal Skills:

 2.  Audio- or Video-Taping of Encounters with Patients:

 3.  Exposure to Role Models:

 4.  Role Playing (Aging Games):

 5.  Shadowing a Patient (Patient Navigator):

 6.  Hospitalization Experiences:

 7.  The Study of Literature and the Arts:

 8.  Improving Narrative Skills:

 9.  Theatrical Performances:

 10.  Balint Method:

 

“Empathy has been considered as far too important to be taught only to health professionals (Ivey, 1971; 1974). Others have suggested that the capacity for empathy in people in general can serve as a foundation for building interpersonal relationships that have a buffering effect against stress and can be an essential step in conflict resolution (Kremer & Dietzen, 1991). As the author has noted “empathy can be viewed as a remedy for the psyche and soul of human kind…And may be it can serve as a means of achieving a global peace here, there, everywhere on earth.” 

To enhance empathic understanding in health and human services, we need not only a broad reform in the health and human services education at undergraduate and graduate levels, but also in training the hospital staff, staff of the assisted-living environment, as well as health services administrators and executives. Clinical and organizational managers in health care institutions and human services organizations should develop well-designed and effective institutional-wide programs to retain, cultivate, and enhance a culture of empathic understanding based on approaches described in this article and other innovative approaches.”