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Empathy is a crucial aspect of the person-centred counselling (PCT) approach developed by Carl Rogers. It is one of the the three core conditions of the six necessary and sufficient conditions It refers to the therapist's ability to understand and share the client's subjective experience and to communicate that understanding back to the client in a non-judgmental and supportive manner.

In PCT, empathy is not sympathizing or feeling sorry for the client. It involves actively stepping into the client's shoes, seeking to understand their thoughts, feelings, and experiences from their perspective. The therapist strives to genuinely connect with the client's inner world and communicate that understanding back to them, demonstrating that their experience is valid and worthy of attention.

Empathy is characterized by the following:

1. Active Listening: The therapist listens attentively and with full presence, giving their undivided attention to the client. They listen not only to the client's words but also to their tone, body language, and underlying emotions. The therapist shows respect and validates the client's experiences by actively listening.

2. Understanding and Reflecting: The therapist seeks to understand the client's subjective experience and then reflects that understanding back to the client. This reflection involves restating the client's thoughts and feelings to demonstrate the therapist's grasp of the client's perspective. It allows the client to feel heard and acknowledged, promoting a more profound sense of trust and connection.

3. Non-Judgmental Attitude: Empathy involves suspending judgment and accepting the client's experiences without criticism or evaluation. The therapist creates a safe and non-judgmental space where clients feel free to express themselves openly, knowing their thoughts and feelings will be respected and understood.

4. Emotional Resonance: Empathy involves the therapist's emotional resonance with the client's experiences. The therapist may experience similar emotions or have personal connections to the client's story, but they maintain boundaries and ensure that the focus remains on the client's needs.

Empathy plays a crucial role in the therapeutic relationship. It helps the client feel seen, heard, and validated, which fosters trust and a sense of safety. Empathy encourages the client to explore their experiences more deeply, gain insight, and better understand themselves. It also promotes the client's self-acceptance and self-compassion, facilitating personal growth and positive change.

Through empathy, the therapist provides a supportive and empathic environment where the client can feel understood, accepted, and encouraged to explore their thoughts and feelings.