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The Social Neuroscience of Empathy$
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Jean Decety and William Ickes

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780262012973

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262012973.001.0001

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Empathic Resonance: A Neuroscience Perspective

Empathic Resonance: A Neuroscience Perspective

Chapter:
(p.125) 10 Empathic Resonance: A Neuroscience Perspective
Source:
The Social Neuroscience of Empathy
Author(s):

Jeanne C. Watson

Leslie S. Greenberg

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262012973.003.0011

Therapeutic empathy is considered an active, cyclical process characterized by three phases: empathic resonance, empathic communication, and received or perceived empathy. Therapists first try to understand how their clients feel about their experience and what it means to them. They then communicate their understanding to their clients while the latter must receive their therapists’ empathy in order to be aware of being understood. This chapter examines the concept of empathic resonance from a neuroscience perspective. It considers whether and how empathy affects client change in psychotherapy. It discusses the role of mirror neurons in mimicry, context, decentering, and empathy as well as the ways in which therapists’ empathic capacity can be enhanced. In addition, it looks at the role that visualization plays in the empathic process. Finally, the chapter assesses the factors modulating empathy.

Keywords:   empathy, empathic resonance, therapists, clients, neuroscience, psychotherapy, mirror neurons, mimicry, decentering, visualization

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