One of the most important skills of a helping person is empathy. Empathy is the ability to put oneself in the other person’s shoes while still remaining in one’s own. Empathy is the ability to be responsive without being reactive.
Empathy is based on the platinum rule not the golden rule. The platinum rule is “do under others as they would have you do unto them.” In order to follow the platinum rule the person using empathy must know something about the person’s culture which includes their values, beliefs, opinions, traditions, preferences, and practices. Where does a person learn about another person’s culture, thought system, and world view?
The psychotherapeutic humanities: fiction, poetry, film, visual arts, dance, and music are a good place to start. Theology, cosmology, anthropology, history, and sociology are other sources of information contributing to richer understanding.
There will be a series of articles on this blog describing various examples of the psychotherapeutic humanities, especially novels, poetry, film, and music. What are the novels, poems, films, and music that have enriched your understanding of the other to enhance your empathic skills?