Those psychologists who have adopted a manualized, technological, or "managed care" approach to their science have tried to downplay empathy as a key element in psychotherapy. Empathy is relegated to a useful background characteristic for building the therapeutic relationship, but it is often not understood as a vital therapeutic ingredient in its own right. Many clinicians do not seem to realize that the subject of empathy has generated novel perspectives and a healthy current research base.
The coeditors of Empathy Reconsidered: New Directions in Psychotherapy have chosen to buck this trend, bringing together a group of respected writers from a variety of perspectives who are making active contributions to the development of our understanding of what empathy is and how it operates in the therapy context. The contributors examine this therapeutic variable in a prism of theoretical perspectives, ranging from self psychology to psychodynamic, client-centered, experiential, feminist, humanistic, cognitive-behavioral, cross-cultural, postmodern, and developmental psychology. Moreover, this volume features heavy representation of the increasingly vital trend toward psychotherapy integration.
Although there are many unanswered questions about the role of empathy in psychotherapy, the present collection brings the reader up to date by comparing different operational definitions and by discussing the varieties of empathy and their hypothesized relationships to therapy process and outcome. Empathy Reconsidered should stand as a watershed in stimulating new research and more conscious use by therapists of empathy in working with their clients, and by providing state-of-the-art knowledge for improved training of therapists.