Empathetic interventions are intended to reduce or resolve emotional difficulties causing feelings of discomfort or distress. See Cognitive and Emotional interventions for suggestions.
The ability to be empathetic during counselling has been interpreted (Miller and Rollnick, 1991) as warmth, respect, caring, commitment and showing an active interest in the client, which also applies to many types of therapies (Rogers, 1959; Truax and Carkhuff, 1967)
Empathetic Counselling requires practitioners to create a safe non-judgemental environment which enables clients to do most of the talking and feel able to speak openly about their personal circumstances. The Counsellor should listen attentively, reflecting back what has been said in different words so that the client knows they understand the meaning. It’s also beneficial for the Counsellor to express empathy as this has shown to improve relationship while at the same time, controlling their emotional responses to what is being said.
Some types of counselling and therapies are non-directive and allow the process to unfold as there is an assumption the client will naturally move in a positive direction. Empathetic Counselling requires active listening with an empathetic approach which can be particularly effective with clients who seem angry, resistant or defensive. Although this approach sound easy to adopt, it harder than people imagine and usually requires careful training and significant effort.