Deep Empathy from the Perspective of Relationship Enhancement Therapy – March 28, 2020

March 28, 2020 3:00 pm - 5:15 pm 4400 East-West Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814

Presenter: Robert Scuka, PhD, MSW, LCSW-C

Saturday, March 28, 3:00 – 5:15 p.m. 2 CE Credits

Empathy constitutes one of the therapist’s most important tools to facilitate client self-understanding and growth. Yet, the fields of psychotherapy and psychological research are burdened with conflicting definitions of empathy. This workshop presents a comprehensive description of empathy and how it can be taught to clients in the context of couple therapy that is rooted in Carl Rogers’s classic definition of empathy and elaborated more systematically within the framework of Bernard Guerney’s Relationship Enhancement (RE) Therapy. This approach to empathy is contextualized within recent discussions on empathy in order to highlight the distinctiveness of the RE approach and to show how some recent discussions in the literature dovetail with and reinforce the Rogerian-based approach of RE Therapy. Detailed descriptions are provided of: the five steps by which empathy is taught to couples in RE Therapy, the two different modes of verbal empathy, how empathy is demonstrated, and how couples are provided the opportunity to practice empathy – all in the service of fostering a productive circle of mutual empathy through a structured dialogue process that deepens mutual understanding as the pathway to renewed connection, the resolution of difficult issues and, where relevant, healing and reconciliation in the relationship.

Individuals registering for this workshop will be sent a copy of the draft article upon which this workshop is based. The workshop will highlight certain aspects of the article in order to provide more opportunity for discussion.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  1. Describe in detail an elaborated delineation of Carl Rogers’s conceptualization of empathy rooted in RE Therapy
  2. Describe the five Learning Theory based steps in how empathy is explained to clients
  3. Describe the two different modes of verbal empathy
  4. Describe how empathy is introduced experientially to clients through therapist demonstration and client practice

Robert Scuka, Ph.D., M.S.W., is Executive Director of the National Institute of Relationship Enhancement® (NIRE) in Kensington, MD, a member of NIRE’s Faculty, and a Master Trainer in Relationship Enhancement® (RE) methods. Rob is author of Relationship Enhancement Therapy: Healing Through Deep Empathy and Intimate Dialogue (Routledge, 2005). He also is co-author of the Couples’ Relationship Enhancement® Program: Leader’s Manual and has produced three DVD videos, including one on empathy and another on using RE to help couples recover from infidelity.

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