Communication Empathy and Nursing

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Introduction: This report will discuss empathy and how it is applied in a health care setting, when developing client care relationships. Empathy and why it is important when providing healthcare to a client. Sometimes empathy can be mistaken for sympathy and the difference between both is not always understood. Communication is an integral part of providing health care to a client and being able to empathize with a client can be a major part of the communication process. Body: What is empathy and why it is important when providing healthcare to a client. Empathy is the ability to put your self in the shoes of the client and seeing things from their point of view. Allowing the client to see you understand their point of view and conveying this message of understanding to the client is an important part of showing you feel empathetic for what the client is feeling. Empathy is ‘the ability to enter the perceptual world of the other person’ (Burnard 1997, p. 172, cited in Higgs et al). There are many studies in regard to empathy. These studies argue whether empathy can be taught or is it a skill that is developed over time throughout the life of a person. We tend to mainly empathize with people that share the same types of personalities, life experiences, age, culture and social class. As a person ages from childhood to adolescence through to an adult and older aged adult. Their ability to empathize with another person tends to increase throughout their life with maturity, age, experience and knowledge. (Archibold et al, 1997, p. 107). It is further shown in Archibold et al that people can also mistake or confuse empathy with sympathy and as a nurse you have to be able to know the differences between the two. Sympathy is to feel sorry for a client without actually understanding what the client may be feeling or going through at that time. A nurse may know a
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