Author: Kathleen Stephany

Cultivating Empathy: Inspiring Health Professionals to Communicate More Effectively (Revised Edition)

eBook: US $49 Special Offer (PDF + Printed Copy): US $83
Printed Copy: US $59
Library License: US $196
ISBN: 978-981-5036-49-7 (Print)
ISBN: 978-981-5036-48-0 (Online)
Year of Publication: 2021
DOI: 10.2174/97898150364801220101


Research demonstrates that even if empathy – the capacity to perceive or share emotions with other beings or objects – is not part of a person’s communication skill set, it can be taught. Empathy can, therefore be viewed as an acquired communication skill. Cultivating and practicing the skill of empathy among health care providers enhances the quality of care experienced by their patients which, in turn, can even improve work satisfaction for health care providers.

Many communication textbooks or manuals for care giving professions primarily focus on specific communication skills and techniques. Cultivating Empathy takes a different approach; the book sets empathy as the foundation of all therapeutic interactions and teaches the reader to learn the art of empathy by using constructive approaches and research findings from social sciences and neuroscience.

In this revised edition. The definition of empathy now incorporates more scientific evidence from the social neuroscience and a discussion of the benefits of positive psychology. The topic of substance use has been incorporated into the original content, with notes emphasizing on barriers to treatment and recommendations for therapeutic modalities that support recovery. The positive and negative effects of social media on empathic capacity are frankly discussed. Chapter Seven is completely new and heightens our understanding of the fact that trauma is prevalent and pervasive in society and has significant negative consequences. The reader is made aware that even though health professionals have frequent contact with people who have a history of violence, many of them are not trained or adequately prepared to discuss trauma with their clients. Therefore, crucial components of a trauma-sensitive practice and trauma-informed approaches are promoted to treat the devastating effects of adversity. There is also a cost to caring for others and being empathetic. That is why Chapter Eight of this book specifically explores the trauma and emotional stress associated with being a caregiver.

Cultivating Empathy is perfect for any student or practicing health care professional who has felt that there was an absence of rapport when interacting with clients or patients and their families. Real case narratives, dynamic interactive exercises and simulation techniques are also provided in this text to assist helpers to learn how to be more empathetic. Readers will gain awareness about human and emotional aspects of patient care, which will hopefully make a positive contribution to their professional practice.


The art of communicating with others is appreciated as a corner stone in building therapeutic relationships for health professionals. In an age of daily technology advances, the base skill of therapeutic communication is still essential for all health professionals. Dr. Kathleen Stephany provides a wonderful book that is carefully written to answer the questions health professionals have on their journey to develop more effective communication. As a health professional, the importance of reflecting on practice is a core value. This book takes the reader through a well thought out discussion that every health professional would find helpful.

The value of this textbook is not limited to health professionals but can be used by anyone wanting to explore their knowledge of compassion and empathy to better understand peoples’ lived experiences. Dr. Stephany provides excellent examples of the variations of the use of empathy and professional communication.

In many ways, health professionals are experiencing more complex communication issues than those faced even a few years ago. The historically unparalleled and increasingly elaborate situations that nurses, doctors, social workers, and allied health care professionals find themselves in, requires far more skill and greater understanding than ever before. The need to support clients on the journey through constantly changing health care settings, political government ideology, and funding issues have forced health professionals’ skills to the extremes. Revisiting communication with an emphasis on empathy will help professionals answer the tough questions and refocus care on the client. They will be better prepared to carry on providing therapeutic care that help individuals in health settings and on the journey to wellness.

Pamela Piddocke
Clinical instructor in Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Faculty of Health Science
Douglas College