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Empathy is a double-edged sword. While it's our most powerful therapeutic tool, it also leaves us vulnerable to being negatively affected by our clients. Everyone has trouble leaving their clients at the office from time to time. Learning the neurobiology at the root of empathy and illuminating your particular areas of vulnerability leads the way toward choice and self-regulation. Actually leaving your clients at the office everyday will help you to reduce your job-related stress and help you to make better use of your off-hours, weekends, and vacations.
Babette Rothschild, M.S.W., L.C.S.W., is in private practice in Los Angeles, California, and gives professional training workshops around the world. She's the author of The Body Remembers: The Psychophysiology of Trauma and Trauma Treatment and The Body Remembers Casebook: Unifying Methods and Models in the Treatment of Trauma and PTSD.
Session 1: Freeing the ties that bind--the neurophysiology of empathy
Session 2: Clearing your head--guaranteeing hippocampal access
Session 3: Tuning in and tuning out--the right to choose
Session 4: Listening without fear--controlling intrusive imagery from clients' stories
1. Utilize empathy theory to self-regulate your degree of projective identification and countertransference.
2. List 3 methods to increase awareness of your own in-session arousal levels.
3. Describe methods to increase and decrease attunement to your client.
4. Identify ways to change imagery stirred by client stories.