Issue 4: The Power of Empathy in Effective Dietetic Counselling
To underscore the importance of the therapeutic relationship in quality Dietetic work I would like to share with you a message I received from Joanne Ikeda:
‘I very much appreciate Issue 3 of your newsletter. For over 20 years, I taught nutrition education and counseling to dietetics majors at the University of California, Berkeley. The very first thing I taught my students was the importance of establishing an effective helping relationship with clients. I am glad to see this reinforced in your newsletter.’
Joanne Ikeda, MA, RD, Nutritionist Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley
In this Issue of Practice Pavestones I am going to be focusing in on one of the core attributes underpinning the formation of this effective helping relationship – Empathy. How does empathy play a role in practicing effective Dietetic counselling? Let’s to start this exploration by considering a recent real life scenario:
Dietitian: ‘Mary, I’m wondering as we near the end of your session today how it was for you to share with me the story of your ups and downs with eating so far?’
Mary: ‘It was good -…’
Dietitian: ..(gently) ……’Good?’
Mary: ‘Yeah you really understood where I was coming from. I think you can help me’
What Mary is really saying here is that the experience of being understood left her feeling that she could be helped.
This is the power of empathy in a nutshell. It enables a connection which sits in direct contrast to the sense of isolation that comes with a difficult problem. It is this isolation that often drives despair, shame and entrenchment of behaviours. With empathy, it is in our power to give our clients a new experience of relating to their problems. Can you hear the subtle motivational edge in Mary’s observation above? If this idea interests you, you are welcome to download the full issue….
#empathy #reflecting #responding