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The Art of Empathy: An Interview with Karla McLaren

How can we create a healthy workplace for health and healing professionals?

Study after study confirms that health and healing professionals who demonstrate empathy provide better care with higher patient/client satisfaction. However, empathic burnout and compassion fatigue are a constant presence in the working lives of health professionals.


emotion-dynamics-330-x-132Expecting more empathy from doctors, nurses, social workers, therapists, and other health and healing professionals — without making sure that their empathy is healthy and sustainable — is not the answer. The best approach is to make sure that this professionalized empathy is intentional, self-aware, self-enriching, and healthy.

The most appropriate approach, then, is not to expect more empathy from doctors, nurses, social workers, therapists, and other health and healing professionals. The best approach is to make sure that their professionalized empathy is healthy, intentional, self-aware, self-enriching, and sustainable.

Healthy Empathy™ is an education and consultation program that helps health and healing professionals develop sustainable empathy skills, improve patient/client care outcomes, create a supportive work environment, and nurture themselves with focused self-care practices.

Using the groundbreaking Six Essential Aspects of Empathy model developed by Karla McLaren, M.Ed., Healthy Empathy makes all of the processes in empathy easily accessible and manageable. Healthy Empathy is also based on the expertise of Tino Plank, MSN, RN, who has over three decades of process improvement and clinical health leadership experience.

This collaboration ensures that the needs of patients and clients are met skillfully — while empathy fatigue and burnout are avoided. Healthy Empathy also focuses on a full-team approach so that the healthcare workplace itself becomes a healthy and supportive environment.

The Healthy Empathy program provides:

  • Strategies for patient and client support that create and sustain healthy empathy.
  • Emotional skills and awareness training for participants and the entire workplace team.
  • Specific, step-by-step development of the Six Essential Aspects of Empathy.
  • Strategies to engage or disengage specific aspects of empathy, depending on participants’ situation and requirements.
  • A clear understanding of emotion work and its effect on empathy, communication, productivity, and health outcomes.
  • Empathic process-improvement methods to enhance communication, education, and collaboration.
  • Practical skills to cultivate and support an emotionally well-regulated workplace.

Karla McLaren, M.Ed. is an award-winning author, social science researcher, and pioneering educator whose empathic approach to emotions revalues even the most “negative” emotions and opens startling new pathways into self-awareness, effective communication, and healthy empathy. She is the founder and CEO of Emotion Dynamics LLC. Karla’s lifelong work has been focused on the creation of a grand unified theory of emotions, which presents every emotion as an essential aspect of intelligence, self-awareness, communication, and empathy. Her applied work, Dynamic Emotional Integration® (also known as DEI) is a groundbreaking approach to emotions and empathy that reveals the genius and the healing power within the emotional realm. Karla has also developed the original Six Essential Aspects of Empathy model that highlights all of the processes in healthy empathy and makes them easily understandable, accessible, and attainable. This fully realized model teaches people how to access, develop, and manage their empathy intentionally. It also explicitly welcomes people who have been exiled from earlier models of empathy (such as men, boys, and autistic people). Karla is the author of The Art of Empathy: A Complete Guide to Life’s Most Essential Skill (2013), The Language of Emotions: What Your Feelings are Trying to Tell You (2010), and the multi-media online course Emotional Flow: Becoming Fluent in the Language of Emotions (2012).

Art of Empathy, autistic people, behavioral health, emotional health, Emotional Intelligence, emotions, empath, empathy, Karla McLaren, mental health

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