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Empathetic Communication Scale

Empathetic Communication Scale

Level 1.0

The counsellor’s verbal and behavioural responses are irrelevant, subtract significantly in affect content, and do not attend appropriately to the other’s expression.  The counsellor communicates no awareness of even the most obvious expressed surface feelings of the other person.  The responses include premature advice-giving, arguing, changing the subject, criticising, pontificating and asking questions that shift the focus from the expressions of the client.

Level 1.5

Counsellor responses qualify as negligibly accurate, and any of the client’s feelings that are not distinctly defined tend to be entirely ignored.  Counsellor responses may mislead or block off the client.  The client does not go to a deeper level of self-exploration.

Level 2.0

The counsellor responds to at least part of the surface feelings of the other person, but the response noticeably subtracts effect or distorts the level of meaning. Awareness of the client’s expressed feelings is only partially communicated.  The counsellor may respond to his own conceptualisation rather than to what the client expressed.  Some responses may have diagnostic or psycho-dynamic accuracy, but not empathic accuracy.

Level 2.5

The counsellor wants to understand and makes the effort, but his responses subtract slightly from the level of feelings the other expresses.  Responses that merely parrot expressions of the other person in the same words belong to this level.

Level 3.0

Responses communicate understanding at the level of feeling the client expresses.  The counsellor’s responses are essentially interchangeable, or reciprocal, in effect with the surface, explicit expressions of the other individual, or they accurately reflect his state of being. The responses do not add effect or go below the surface feelings, nor do they subtract from the feelings and tone expressed.  Factual aspects of the client’s message (content), though desirable, are not required; if included, content must be accurate.  When expressed feelings are vague or ill defined, inquiries used to expand the expression of feeling or to explore meaning are appropriate.  However, if feelings are stated explicitly or are clearly implied, then inquiries alone, without responsiveness to the feelings, are noticeably subtractive (level 2.0).

Level 3.5

The counsellor’s responses reflect not only the feelings but also the reasons for the feelings that the other person expresses – in other words, the counsellor’s responses complement feelings with content.

Level 4.0

The counsellor’s responses accurately identify implicit, underlying feelings somewhat beyond the expressions of the client and complement feelings with content that adds deeper meaning.

Level 4.5

Responses exceed level 4.0 but fall short of 5.0

Level 5.0

The counsellor’s responses significantly add to the effect and meaning explicitly expressed by the client.  Additionally, the counsellor’s responses accurately communicate the effect, meaning and intensity of the other person’s deeper feelings by word, voice and intensity of expression.  Whenever appropriate, responses at this level may empathically identify the client’s implicit goals which point the direction for personal growth, paving the way to action.  The counsellor may relate current feelings and experiences to previously expressed experiences or feelings, or she/he may accurately identify implicit patterns, names or purposes.


Shaun Brookhouse

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