Reflection Empathy Versus Sympathy
In the book, To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee (1960) wrote, “You never really know a man until you understand things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it” (p. 30). As a social worker, you are called upon to walk in the skin (or shoes) of your clients, understanding their lives and circumstances so that you can help them toward wellness. This empathic quality is a hallmark of the profession.
There is a difference, however, between empathy (feeling with the client) and sympathy (feeling for the client). Empathy promotes a relationship—in other words, a sense of togetherness—whereas sympathy indicates a separation.
In this Assignment, you reflect on a situation where others approached you with empathy or sympathy and examine the effect of that interaction.
Reference: Lee, H. (1960). To kill a mockingbird. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott.
2 or 3-page
Explain a time or event in your life when you were struggling.
Identify some of the statements those around you said to you.
Determine whether the statements were ones of empathy or sympathy, and explain why.
Describe how these comments made you feel.
Identify two statements that someone could have said to you that would have given you comfort.