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Psychol Addict Behav. 2013 Sep;27(3):878-84. doi: 10.1037/a0030274. Epub 2012 Oct 1.

Is low therapist empathy toxic?

Author information

1
Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse and Addictions (CASAA), Department of Psychology, University of New Mexico.

Abstract

One of the largest determinants of client outcomes is the counselor who provides treatment. Therapists often vary widely in effectiveness, even when delivering standardized manual-guided treatment. In particular, the therapeutic skill of accurate empathy originally described by Carl Rogers has been found to account for a meaningful proportion of variance in therapeutic alliance and in addiction treatment outcomes. High-empathy counselors appear to have higher success rates regardless of theoretical orientation. Low-empathy and confrontational counseling, in contrast, has been associated with higher drop-out and relapse rates, weaker therapeutic alliance, and less client change. The authors propose emphasis on empathic listening skills as an evidence-based practice in the hiring and training of counselors to improve outcomes and prevent harm in addiction treatment.

PMID:
23025709
PMCID:
PMC3558610
DOI:
10.1037/a0030274
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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