Why Empathy is Important in Addiction Treatment
Empathy is one of the most important skills of an effective counselor. Empathy can be defined as the ability to feel what the other person is feeling, to have a profound understanding of their emotions, and relate to them. Understanding and trust are built on the foundation of empathy, and it creates a healthy relationship for easy communication.
Patients suffering from drug addiction are often criminalized and pitied. Their complaints and concerns are often ignored because they are sick and unable to help themselves. This is why it is important to be caring and understanding instead of judging them. Being empathetic is very important to help them heal.
How to Be Empathetic
Listening to a patient empathetically means making an effort to understand them. Here are some tips for being more empathetic.
Do Not Judge
Sitting across from someone and passing judgment on them is very easy. Let go of all your opinions and try to think from their perspective. Listening empathetically does not mean you have to agree with everything they say. It means you’re listening and you care.
Listen To Them Carefully
Often, when someone is talking, we can zone out and lose focus. Being an empathetic listener means focusing on all the words they’re saying. Read the tone of their voice, observe body language, and try to be insightful. Addicts are often very irritated and angry because they feel like they’re misunderstood. This is why you should give them your undivided attention.
Like being on your phone, being distracted will also make them think you’re not being respectful.
Refrain From Giving Advice
One of the most important things to remember is to not give advice. Giving your patient a natural and understanding response makes them feel like they can trust you. Your responses should be short; ask them questions to show you’re interested and be nonjudgmental.
Empathy Helps to Heal
The path towards recovery from drug addiction is not easy. Human connection, love, and support are some of the most principle elements a rehabilitation center can offer to patients. Where addicts have damaged a lot of their relationships with their loved ones, they need empathy and someone with a commitment to pull them out of this situation.
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