Do empaths make good therapists? (A Complete Guide)

In this article, we will discuss Do empaths make good therapists?. We will do that by describing empaths, the importance of empathy for therapists, the traits of a good therapist, and finally empathic therapists.

Do empaths make good therapists? 

Yes, empaths can make good therapists. Although empathy is necessary for a good therapist, it is not sufficient. They need to have many other qualities as well in order to be effective as a practicing therapist. Having empathy gives them an advantage as they can detect feelings of others, explain them, and also have self-awareness of their own emotional experience during the process of dealing with the emotions of other people. 

Empaths

An empath is a person who can understand the perspective of another person especially their emotions, thoughts, and feelings. These people genuinely care about others and want to help them in any way they can. They are highly sensitive people who can detect changes in the emotions of a person. Sometimes, they even absorb the feelings of another person which can be too much for their own mental health.  This explains why empaths occasionally experience burnout,  compassion fatigue,  depression, and anxiety. They need alone time to avoid overstimulation and recharge their energy by connecting with their thoughts and feelings. 

Why empathy is important for therapists

Empathy in a person can drive them to choose psychology as a profession because of their wish to help others heal. Therapists help people suffering from emotional and psychological issues. Mental illnesses require proper attention and treatment which can be efficiently dealt with by a trained mental health professional. An effective therapist needs empathy in order to deal with their clients. Tasks like listening, processing emotions, and offering advice, all require empathy to be executed properly. 

Research has shown that although psychiatric drugs are effective in reducing symptoms of psychological disorders,  they are not enough on their own.  A combination of medications and therapy works best in alleviating symptoms of mental illness. Psychotherapy is much cheaper than medications and is effective in the long run. Furthermore, it does not have many side effects, unlike drugs. 

Traits of a good therapist

There are many traits that a therapist should have in order to be effective in their profession. Empathy is one of them. These traits are stated as follows.

A good Therapist should have interpersonal skills. 

An effective therapist should have strong interpersonal skills. This means they should be able to express their thoughts clearly, be interested in what other people have to say, should be good in communication, and focus more on their patients rather than themself. A good therapist needs to be warm and compassionate. They should have high empathy for their patient’s experiences, be able to detect their emotions & thoughts and accept them for who they are in a non-judgemental manner. 

They need to be trustworthy

Clients who are going through a difficult time emotionally need to be able to trust their therapist if they are to get better. To show they are trustworthy, the therapist needs to communicate verbally and nonverbally that the client can feel safe with them and that they would help them by putting in their best efforts. They need to ensure that they will abide by the ethical code and always act in the best interest of the client. 

They are willing to establish an alliance

A strong alliance is one of the predictors of promising therapeutic outcomes. A therapeutic alliance refers to the partnership between a therapist and client. It includes being able to establish goals with mutual discussion and gradually work towards them at the client’s pace. 

A Therapist can explain the client’s symptoms to them in an effective and understandable language.

Many clients come to therapy with confusing and multiple symptoms. They want to know the reason behind their distress and how to overcome it. An effective therapist can give a satisfactory explanation to the client about their experience. They can also adapt their explanation as their relationship with the client grows stronger and they get new information. They are able to give explanations, interpretations, and rationale behind the client’s experience. However, they are not rigid in their approach. Rather, they are open to changing it depending on the feedback by the client. 

They are committed to establishing a treatment plan which is individualized

Based on the assessment conducted in initial therapeutic sessions, a good therapist can offer a treatment plan that is client-centered. They can incorporate suggestions given by the client and also explain the rationale behind the recommendations so that clients are able to understand why they are important. 

They are confident in the good prognosis of therapy.

An effective therapist is able to communicate to the client about the effectiveness of therapy. They are able to make their clients feel secure about their decision to seek therapy. They make the clients feel like they are in good hands and can trust them.

They are attentive to the client’s progress.

A  good therapist monitors the client’s response to treatment. They check-in and ask them for feedback about their progress and whether they feel okay with things going the way they are. 

They are open to adapting the treatment plan

A good therapist individualizes the treatment according to the client and incorporates suggestions that work for them. They are open to listening to their concerns and feelings and offer alternative solutions. 

They inculcate hope and positivity regarding improvement

A therapist is able to motivate clients into believing things will get better. They do not offer unrealistic hope or fake promises. Rather, they offer a balanced approach. They make them believe in a better tomorrow and make sure that happens as well.

They are sensitive to the client’s cultural background

Effective therapists are open to the diversity of their client’s demographic background. They are culturally sensitive in their practice and do not make offensive comments to hurt others. 

They have self-insight

A good therapist has the self-awareness of their emotions and is able to separate them from their work. They keep their personal issues aside, identify them earlier on, and take measures to prevent them from affecting their client. 

Their practice is evidence-based.

A good therapist practices therapy in line with updated scientific research. They are honest about their expertise and keep themselves updated with the latest trends in order to provide the best service to their clients.

They continue their training and education.

Licensed therapists continue their education and training to ensure their practice is effective and up to date. 

Empathic Therapists

Based on the qualities listed above, we can understand that a lot of these qualities require the person to be empathic. For example, an empathic therapist has self-insight, is accepting of diversity, shares a hopeful approach, emits an aura of trustworthiness, and has interpersonal skills. Although individual differences may exist and all empaths may not have these qualities, but we can say that they possess at least some of them naturally. So, we can say that empaths can make good therapists especially if they process their emotions, address their traumas, learn to establish boundaries, and engage in self-care activities when working in the field, particularly if they are highly sensitive empaths. In short, empathy is necessary for being a good therapist but not sufficient for it.

FAQs: Do empaths make good therapists?

Do empaths need therapy?

Yes. Empaths need therapy. They are human beings who can experience the same emotions as others and many need help from a therapist to cope with emotional sensory overload. 

Do empaths have anxiety?

Yes, empaths experience anxiety, depression, and panic attacks along with other psychological problems. They are prone to developing physical symptoms including headaches, increased heart rate, and fatigue. 

What careers are best for empaths?

Careers that are good for empaths include jobs like artists, librarians, writers, nurses, teachers, and veterinarians. Although some of these could be emotionally draining for them due to the sensitive nature of these jobs, overall they can be rewarding as well. These careers can be good due to their calm nature and does not include exposure to a lot of crowds.

Do empaths make good writers?

Yes, empaths can do well as writers, healthcare professionals, and artists.

Conclusion

In this article, we discussed Do empaths make good therapists?. We found that empaths can make good therapists. Although empathy is necessary for a good therapist, it is not sufficient. They need to have many other qualities as well in order to be effective as practicing therapists. Having empathy gives them an advantage as they can detect feelings of others, explain them, and also have self-awareness of their own emotional experience as well during the process of dealing with the emotions of other people.

 I hope you found this article interesting. If you have any queries or comments, please state them in the comment section 😊

Citations

https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/careers/hands-on-careers-for-sensitive-people-being-an-empath-in-the-working-world/

https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/10023-best-careers-for-empaths.html#:~:text=Empaths%20can%20understand%20the%20depth,at%20listening%20and%20offering%20advice.&text=If%20you%20get%20overloaded%20easily,coach%20is%20a%20similar%20option.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201108/13-qualities-look-in-effective-psychotherapist

Divya is currently a Clinical Psychology Trainee in a Master of Philosophy program and holds a Master’s in clinical psychology. She has a special interest in Personality studies and disorders, having researched the subject before, and Neuropsychology; with an additional interest being Mood disorders. She likes to write about Psychiatric issues, having worked in multiple specialty setups during her time as a clinical psychology student, and in her free time she likes to cook and read.