What Is Empathy and What are its Types?

empathetic counseling services

Empathy is the ability to understand and relate to feelings and thoughts. Empathic thinking is defined as the willingness and ability to put oneself in another person’s shoes, to feel another person’s emotions, or to recognize that another person may have similar experiences to oneself. Empathy on the therapist’s behalf for persons in treatment is another crucial feature of therapeutic partnerships.

Here’s a short guide to what empathy is and how can empathetic counseling services benefit you:

Empathy: A Guide to Understand It

Empathy is not the same as sympathy, which is the ability to care about and respect another person’s feelings. On the other hand, compassion is a quality that includes components of Empathy and sympathy. Empathy facilitates compassion and charitable deeds, but it is not a requirement for either; people can act without Empathy.

Empathy is intimately linked to altruism or selfless behavior that benefits others. Altruistic deeds usually indicate a person’s high level of compassion for others. Many creatures are other than humans, such as monkeys and bears, can altruistic behavior in studies.

Following are the few types of Empathy:

Cognitive Empathy

Cognitive Empathy, often known as ‘perspective-taking,’ is not what most people think of when they think of Empathy. It is the ability to see things from other’s perspectives.

It’s a helpful skill, especially in negotiations or for managers. It allows you to place yourself in another person’s shoes without having to engage with their emotions. However, it does not seem to match with the notion of Empathy.

The Negative Side

It is possible to demonstrate cognitive Empathy without any feelings of empathy or sympathy. Most of us would consider this fellow-feeling an essential component of Empathy. This negative side of cognitive empathy is that you cannot relate to other people.

Emotional Empathy

Emotional Empathy entails directly experiencing the emotions that another person is experiencing. You’ve undoubtedly heard the word “empath,” which refers to someone who can entirely take on another’s emotional and mental condition.

This type of response may appear to be unrelated to the brain or reasoning, but emotional Empathy is profoundly rooted in the mirror neurons of humans. Emotional Empathy does just that when it comes to the feelings, someone has in response to a circumstance.

It’s natural to feel a pull on your heartstrings when your partner—or anyone you genuinely love—comes to you in tears. It’s a deep-seated, gut emotion that frequently feels like a visceral human response, similar to crying at a wedding or shuddering when someone stubs their toe. This type of connection with another person is intimate and can lead to a strong friendship.

Negative Side of Emotional Empathy

Emotional Empathy, like Cognitive Empathy, has a negative side. One disadvantage of emotional empathy is that it causes people to lose control over their uncomfortable emotions. Psychological weariness, which leads to burnout, is an example of this. When you’re feeling too much, even tiny exchanges of emotions might become overpowering.


With this form of empathy, we not only comprehend and sympathize with a person’s situation, but we are also impulsively inspired to assist them if necessary.

The balance of Cognitive and emotional Empathy allows us to act without becoming overwhelmed by emotion or leaping right into a problem-solving process.

Putting it all together, Empathy isn’t something that many people are born with. Our fast-paced society rarely encourages us to slow down and interact with others. As a result, we must make a deliberate decision, yet the more we practice Empathy, the more intuitive it gets.

Empathy in Two Other Forms

Although many people think that there are only three types of empathy. But some people believe that there are two more types of Empathy: Physical Empathy and Spiritual Empathy.

Somatic Empathy

Somatic Empathy is physically feeling another person’s pain. If you witness someone in agony, you may also experience bodily discomfort. Identical twins sometimes feel the pain of the other twin, which could be an example of somatic Empathy. When someone is hit in the stomach with a ball during a sports game, one or two spectators may feel it as though they, too, have been hit.

A direct connection with a ‘higher being’ or consciousness is known as spiritual Empathy.

Empathy Practice Suggestions

Empathy, fortunately, is a skill that you can learn and improve with time. There are a few things you may do if you want to improve your empathy skills:

  • Practice paying attention to others without interrupting them.
  • Pay attention to nonverbal messages such as body language.
  • Even if you disagree with them, try to understand them.
  • To discover more about people and their life, ask them questions.
  • Put yourself in someone else’s shoes.

Therapy Counsellors Can Help:

Empathetic counseling services are very beneficial, and they can help make clients feel comfortable. Clients cited increased levels of trust between the client and the therapist, a more substantial level of self-understanding for the client, and higher levels of feeling joyful and secure as some of the specific benefits of empathy.

Other ways for therapists to demonstrate empathy for their clients include not interrupting them, not discounting their beliefs, not being judgmental, and not talking too much in general.

These are all topics therapists may focus on in their practice, but therapists with low empathy levels may find it challenging to put these principles into practice. As a result, it’s essential to look at how therapists might increase their empathy levels so that these empathy-inducing acts occur naturally in their sessions.


In Conclusion, we can say that while Empathy can falter at times, most people can sympathize with others in various scenarios. This ability to perceive things from someone else’s point of view and empathize with their feelings is crucial in our social lives. Empathy permits us to comprehend others and, in many cases, motivates us to act to alleviate another’s suffering.