Provision of Empathy: Challenges Experienced by Psychotherapists in Cross-Cultural Dyads
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In relational and other humanistic psychotherapies, empathy is an integral part of the therapeutic relationship. Through the experience of empathy, clients gain insight into conscious and unconscious processes regarding self-perception, behaviours, and ways of relating with others. Therapists’ provision of empathy strengthens the therapeutic relationship, building trust and improving positive outcomes for clients. Studies in human behaviour show that empathy is easier with people who share similar cultural beliefs, values, and worldviews. This hermeneutic literature review explores how therapists’ cultural identities and worldview may affect the provision of empathy when working with clients from cultures with different worldviews. The findings show that empathy is defined, understood, and expressed differently across cultures and from differing worldview perspectives. Therapists are encouraged to understand their own cultural identities and worldview and to reflect on how this may affect their provision of empathy in clinical practice.