Empathic practices in client-centred psychotherapies

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We explore how client-centred empathy is practiced within a specific interaction type: troubles telling sequences. Building on the work of Carl Rogers, who viewed empathy as a form of understanding that privileges the client’s point of view, empathy is examined as an interactional achievement in which clients create empathic opportunities by displaying their affectual stance, followed by therapists taking up these opportunities through affiliative displays. We found that empathic practices could be realized through a variety of verbal (naming other’s feelings, formulations, co-completions) and non-verbal resources (nodding, smiling). Further, we found that continuers played an important role in helping clients to develop their troubles stance in more detail, which, in turn, invited more explicit empathic displays from therapists.


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