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Lessons Dorothy

Empathy Training 
Rough Outline of 12 Lesson Topics 
Dorothy Della Noce 

May 11, 2016 


1. Concepts and vocabulary 
This would be an introduction to the basics of empathy and the vocabulary and concepts to be used during the rest of the class. Concept maps would be helpful. It could be delivered via video, such as Screencastomatic. We would need to identify one or two readings for preparation. I would like to see an emphasis on empathy as a way of being, not just a “tool.” Maybe we could find a movie clip or something to pull people into the discussion first. 

2. Why empathy matters 
While we could “tell” participants why empathy matters, it is also nice to have them experience it themselves and “feel” it. One way to do this would be for each of them to be the “heard” partner in an empathic listening exercise. Another way is to encourage the sharing of stories – when empathy made all the difference to each of them, and why. Maybe also the reverse – what did it feel like when empathy was needed but missing? 

3. The “science” behind empathy 
Some background on what research tells us about the importance of empathy and its personal and social effects. It would be a short lecture, so we have to jazz it up J We might also add a discussion piece to this. 

4. “Doing” empathy I: Reflective/empathic listening 
This would be a unit on learning the hows and whys of empathic listening, with practice. 

5. “Doing” empathy II: Nonverbal communication 
This would be a unit on learning the hows and whys of nonverbal communication, with practice. The skill of perception checking would be included. 

6. “Doing” empathy III: Perspective taking 
This would be a unit on learning the hows and whys of perspective taking (the responding portion of empathic exchange), with practice. 

7. “Doing” empathy IV: Perspective giving 
This would be a unit on learning the hows and whys of perspective giving (Bruneau), with practice. 

8. “Doing” empathy V: Barriers 

This would be a unit on learning about barriers to empathy, such as assumptions, defensiveness, bias and prejudice, and how to heighten awareness and monitor self in interaction. A Photovoice activity would work well here. 

9. “Doing” empathy VI: Asking questions 
This unit would focus on how to ask questions from curiosity, rather than those that threaten, challenge, or cut off conversation. Practice would be included. 

10. “Doing” empathy VII: Shifting the interaction 
The focus here would be on strategies for shifting the quality of an interaction from negative to positive (empathic), when one feels caught in a destructive cycle. Role play would be useful here. 

11. Empathy to Action 

I would like to see a “what next” type of discussion. For example, participants can explore how decision making about next steps in a problematic situation might follow an empathic exchange. Role play would be useful here, too. 

12. Conclusion 

Wrap everything up!