Evaluation of an Empathy Training Program to Prevent Emotional Maladjustment Symptoms in Social Professions

This study examined the impact of a 4-day empathy training program for social professions. The major focus of the training was to enhance reflected empathic behavior as a resource in emotionally tense situations by strengthening self-other differentiation and emotional self-acceptance. It was hypothesized that maladjustment symptoms such as depressiveness and irritation would decline as a consequence. The sample analyzed in this randomized control study evaluating the training program was comprised of 319 health care trainees at the graduate level (intervention group n = 147, control group n = 172). Longitudinal follow-up data were collected before and 3 months after the training. Measures of emotional competences and maladjustment symptoms were taken. Results showed significant change in emotional self-acceptance, resilience, emotional self-perception, self-other-differentiation, irritation, and psycho-social maladjustment symptoms in the intervention group compared with the control group. Self-other differentiation was found to be a small yet significant mediator.


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