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Empathy: Friend or Foe?

Updated: Mar 8, 2021

What is empathy you ask? Great question.

Basically, empathy is your ability to feel someone else's pain without them providing full detail. Knowing that someone is burdened with pain, subconsciously, you absorb a portion of their pain out of your desire to minimize their suffering. When done correctly, the person you are working with, truly feels your empathy and is comforted.

Practicing the essential skill you need to successfully support trauma survivors, empathy, can be a blessing and a curse. Feeling empathy too intensively can make you at risk for second-hand shock and cause you to switch into survival mode. Unfortunately, the brain does not distinguish whether the switch was activated because a two-ton bear is present or because of prolonged intense empathy.

So, creating a proper balance of caring for others, and caring for yourself is key. To learn more about how you can do this, sign up for our Trauma Specialist Certification Course, or purchase It's Not Drama, It's Vicarious Trauma.

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