WARMTH, EMPATHY & GENUINENESS

Excerpt From Relationships That Work: The Power Of Conscious Living
– By David B. Wolf

Researchers have conducted a multitude of studies on the effects of the many types of therapies to determine which approaches are most effective in helping someone feel better and solve problems. These studies have indicated that outcomes are not primarily correlated with the type of counseling being practiced. What do correlate highly with positive outcomes are the qualities of the counselor. The essential qualities of an effective helper are warmth, empathy and genuineness (WEG). That is to say, regardless of the theoretical orientation of the counselor or school of techniques used, the extent to which the practitioners possessed warmth, empathy and genuineness directly corresponded with successful results. Warmth, empathy and genuineness are inherent qualities of the self. Thus effective helping is not dependent on university degrees or experience in the mental health professions. (In fact, such training can even be a barrier. In one study only about 13 percent of mental health professionals responded with empathy to a depressed client.)

It is important to note that true warmth is not a sentimental emotive expression. It is sincere understanding and caring. We do not want to use warmth to cover for lack of competence in communication skills. Natural warmth inspires trust. With empathy we understand the other person’s perspective. This does not mean that we necessarily agree with that perspective; we can leave our frame of reference without abandoning it.

Genuineness means that we are authentic and spontaneous. While acknowledging that we may play various roles in life, we do not hide behind those roles. For example, though a person might recognize that he is the manager, child, youngest or senior member of a group, counselor or parent in a relationship, he does not allow these roles to become an obstacle to genuine human interaction.

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