Those of us in long term relationships with a commitment to do what it takes to learn how to love each other know what a high game that is. There’s a lot that gets in the way of that. For therapists, our relationships are a rich playground for expanding our capacity to accept one another.
The imago dialogue is an intentional, refined approach to communicating. With practice, it can become a sweet effortless entry into real connection.
The last few weeks, I’ve been going the long way around answering a question raised by a talented young therapist, “What is the role of empathy in AAIT?” NOW, I think I’m ready to more directly answer the question.
Empathy is essential in ANY therapeutic relationship. It is crucial to developing trust which is critical to establishing a collaborative relationship. Collaboration is central to creating a solid crucible for transformation and is one of the five phases of AAIT.
We all have our challenges with empathy. There are a variety of emotional states we inhabit that inhibit our capacity to empathize with someone. Anything on the mad, sad, glad or scared continuum can stop us from pausing and reflecting on what it’s like to be that PERSON at that TIME going through that SITUATION.
In the context of our current political polarization, I often receive the question, how do we use AAIT with THIS? Aside from inviting an exploration of the shadow, I’ve been a bit at a loss. I KNOW that doing our deliberate practice has an impact on our state of being. What I don’t know is how that impacts those around us.
Empathy has long been recognized as an essential element to providing proper service to our clients. To make sure we are on the same page, let’s start with this basic definition of empathy: the ability to share and understand the feelings of another.