TMatch: Preference for Empathy Style
Client Preference for Therapist Empathy Style
There are different ways therapists can express
empathy during therapy. Place the following
styles of empathy in order of your preference,
by moving them into the boxes on the right.
Your therapist tells you personal experiences of a similar
situation or feeling to the one you are describing. The key
part of this is that you would feel you weren't alone in your
situation because your therapist had similar experiences.
Your therapist is able to share your feelings during the
therapy sessions. The key part of this is that you would
feel extremely intimate and close to your therapist, who
would feel similar feelings or emotions to those you feel.
Your therapist talks to you in such a way that
that you know your therapist understands your
thoughts, feelings, and experiences. The key
part of this is that you would feel understood.
Your therapist is supportive and attentive.
You know you have the therapist's full
attention, and that the therapist is completely
supportive and non-critical of you.
This matching criteria is based on a study by Bachelor (1998), which found four different
styles of empathy preferred by clients for their therapists. These four styles, in the starting order shown
in the assessment above, are:
- Sharing empathy occurs when the therapist discloses to the client that the therapist has experienced a
similar situation or feeling.
- Affective empathy is the client's perception that the therapist feels the same emotions that the client
- Cognitive empathy is the client's perception that the therapist understands the client's thoughts and
- Nurturant empathy is the client's perception that the therapist is supportive and attentive,
and is providing security for the client.
The assessment above is for determining client preferences. Therapists were given an
extremely similar assessment. For TMatch, clients were matched to therapists based on how much
their preferences matched therapists self-ratings on these empathy styles.
Bachelor, A. (1988). How clients perceive therapist empathy: A content analysis of "received"
empathy. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 25, 227-240.