Empathy: The Heart of the Consultation
‘Empathy is at the heart of the consultation’ – this was the theme of the seminar (I attended) at **** (place) on **** (date).
Empathy is, essentially, an innate attribute – some may say intelligence – that we all share, but which, through both effort and a willingness to build on past experience and avoid generic thinking and assumption, we can all develop for the benefit of both ourselves and others. This is particularly the case for those working in the field of healthcare, including alternative health and herbal medicine.
From the question of whether, and to what extent, an empathetic context can improve successful outcomes for patients, to the communication skills needed by practitioners to facilitate these outcomes, the seminar proved productive for all those attending. These included a diverse range of herbal practitioners, as well as students, including Jackie from the Scottish School and Dawn from the University.
The audience was told of the importance of the practitioner learning to attend and listen, as well as the virtuous circle of emotional health and relaxation that can be created by a prioritising the role empathy in the consultation. Subsequent story and case study exercises got the audience involved and reinforced the seminar’s central theme of the importance of empathy to consultations.
I was certainly not alone in finding the seminar a positive and stimulating experience, and one that was certainly of benefit to all practitioners in herbal medicine who were present. It was clearly and professionally presented, and inspired much interesting debate and discussion in the audience about how best to ensure the well-being of the patient by treating the whole person in a holistic way through the proactively embedding of empathy at the heart of all that we do.
The mantra of empathy could be said to be: “I don’t know everything – tell me what it is to be like you.” After attending the seminar, everyone was unanimous in believing that the humility inherent in an empathetic approach should be at the heart of the consultation.
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