News: About 20% of U.S. employers offer empathy training as part of management development

Contemporary workers “want a sense of connection,” which empathetic managers offer, says Adam Waytz, an empathy researcher and associate professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Yet, few companies scientifically measure outcomes from this training.

Individuals who master listening and responding to others are the most successful leaders, and this skill outranks all others, concluded a study released this year by human-resources consultancy Development Dimensions International. The finding reflects assessments of more than 15,000 leaders in 18 countries. A 2011 study of 6,731 managers from 38 countries by the Centre for Creative Leadership also uncovered strong performance by empathetic bosses, saying they “effectively build and maintain relationships.”

One measure suggests that empathy boosts corporate results. The top 10 businesses among 160 in a 2015 Global Empathy Index generated 50% more net income per employee than the bottom 10. The index analysed such factors as how well those companies treat workers and communicate with customers.

Within health and social care and indeed all caring roles, staff have an extra dimension to communicating with customers, as those customers are patients and their loved ones. Further more they are often coming into contact with staff at a vulnerable time of their life and often well out of their comfort zone. And it doesn’t stop their, health and social care staff have a high level of emotional work and their empathy and indeed compassion is always in demand. Stress levels are now well known, from many studies, to deplete empathy levels toward a stranger (patient). 4813-stressed-nurseFeeling stress from external stimuli such as work expectations and not feeling ‘cared for themselves’ by the leadership team, often end up still being good at recognising emotion (cognitive empathy) but not so good at the actual feeling of it and responding appropriately (affective empathy).

This is why linking the need for leaders and organisations to be trained to  develop a culture of empathy and staff well being, is critical in developing the human connection and promoting the best performance from staff for an organisation as well as positively affecting patients experiences of care.

                                      Using Empathy in leadership

using empathy in leadership

Description This one-day course examines, in a unique, thought provoking way, the important role empathy plays in good leadership. Delegates will develop understanding of the psychology of emotionally focused thinking and outcomes. They will learn essential skills to understand and implement effective relationship focused leadership, underpinned with empathy and emotional development.


Using Empathy effectively in care home


Description A one-day course for care home managers and frontline staff to improve how they approach care and conversations with patients, families and other members of staff. Delegates will develop essential skills to understand implement effective relationship focused work using underpinned with empathy and emotional development. They will gain confidence to handle difficult conversations with compassion and understanding to improve outcomes and the experience of care.

Using Empathy Effectively to Aid Communication

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Description: A one-day course to develop a deeper level of communication to approach difficult and sensitive conversations with patients, families and other members of staff with empathy. Delegates will develop psychological understanding and essential skills to best communicate with compassion and confidence. The training includes self-awareness and reflection skills in line with the latest NMC revalidation requirements.


                                      Using Empathy to Help Resolve Complaints

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Description: A one-day course for ideal for those working with families raising an initial concern or following the official complaints procedure. Delegates will develop the unique insight to the emotional motivations often behind complaints and conflict and how empathy can help learn lessons and reach meaningful resolutions, for organisations and individuals.



To discuss your organisations individual requirements please email on            

Testimonials click here

NEW PROGRAMME COMING SOON: Empathy Training to  support schools with loss, grief, fear and sadness issues

education thumbnailTraining program under development and available soon !

With a counselling specialism of loss, bereavement, fear and sadness and having seen and having the experience of supporting 4 children through the education system following 2 major deaths, I am putting together a programme that will support staff dealing with emotionally vulnerable children and families. Providing both a deeper understanding  of all types of loss and fear level along with practical tools, teaching and non teaching education staff will develop an authentic, empathic approach to difficult and sensitive conversations with children and families. Delegates will develop psychological understanding and essential skills to best communicate with compassion and confidence.

Original news source:


Blog- 3 truths you need to know about empathy training

So you have been asked to go to a training day. You are healthcare professional, complaints manager, a teacher perhaps in a school, or you work in the housing department at a council maybe? You work hard. You have too many tasks for the hours allocated. You are a conscientious worker and you have your own family and personal life to manage. Maybe you are a manger with targets and budgets to keep? And you are being sent on empathy training!

“Hold on” you say to yourself,

“I care about people”.

“I am already empathic”.

“I don’t need some empathy training person telling me something else I need to do better”

“Give me more time to do my job and I will do all you want”.

Maybe you have and maybe you haven’t felt similar feelings about a conference presentation or training day. You would not be alone though if you have. Managing professional duties and our own emotions is sometimes a tough thing to do and wouldn’t be great if we could always have things in our life under control and sorted?

Trained in counselling, I often get people assuming that I have. That I have always have and indeed can with ease, control my emotions. That I am always ‘sane’ whatever that means?! And to be training in empathy, well I must be even more so! Well what I want you to do right now is knock me and any other psychological therapy trainer good and hard off any preconceived pedestal. Why?….well simple put. we all started off like this

ba-dp-feature-20160131-c2 (1) Yes, a human baby

Not this………..A professional………………….article-2593486-1CB8CB6700000578-692_634x567 (1).  

We are an emotionally driven human being! Before anything else.  And my route into counselling and indeed training in empathy has come from a very emotionally human perspective indeed.

People Meeting Conference Seminar Audience ConceptWhen I deliver my training course, delegates are told, right at the very beginning, that this training is about being human first. Empathy is not a new phenomenon, nor is the idea of emotional self development, but  my life has thrown many a curve ball at me. Sometimes  I have handled these curve balls in an exemplar way and sometimes in a way that the word ‘sane’ would be questionable. Nurses

And to assist delegates to engage with, understand and develop empathy my approach is to gain a human connection with each and everyone of them.

So the 3 truths to empathy training for my company C&C Empathy Training are these……….

#1 Being real.

#2 Being authentic.

#3 Being transparent.

Empathy, for me is, at it’s best, trying to see and I mean really see another persons world with acceptance and not judgement. That’s why I lay so much of my experiences, like the death of child in hospital and all the difficult feelings and reactions that go with that on the line for all who attend my training or hear me speak at a conference. And I start this process before I even start on empathy. This real, authentic and transparent approach creates a human connection with those on the training. We are all human beings. This real, authentic and transparent approach gives an evaluation tool to safely understand true empathy, its importance and why developing it and managing it is a great human skill to have.

And here is the great thing for me…being these 3 things within empathy training, develops me more too.

So being human first and remembering everyone else is human too. We all will excel, we all will react badly. We all will feel proud sometimes and not others. We all will have conscious and unconscious processes going on. And, unless on the pathological extreme narcissistic scale, we all share the need to be accepted and understood and have the capabilities to accept and understand each other.

Thank you for spending time with me and reading this blog.

I would be delighted to welcome you, your staff or colleagues on one of my training days, or to speak at a staff conference.

As a thank you for reading my blog, I would be very pleased to offer you a 20% discount of any training/conference speaking by quoting CCET20blog. Or email me for group discounts.

Conference speaking

5 Conference speaking thumbnail“Carolyn skilfully engages any audience, from a single individual to a large conference, not just providing inspiration, but with her passion, galvanising it into motivation, enabling and supporting health professionals to improve their practice”. Christopher Fincken, Chair of the the UK Council of the Caldicott Guardians.

Description: I has been public speaking since 2006 about the emotional side of health and social care on many subjects, reaching audiences including government officials, medical and legal professionals, advocates, junior medics, complaints staff and members of the public.

Using Empathy to help resolve Complaints

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“Three out of four investigations by hospitals into complaints that patients suffered avoidable injury or death fail to identify serious failings in care, leaving distraught families in the dark.” Julie Mellor Parliamentary Health Ombudsman, Dec 2015

Description: A one-day course for ideal for those working with families raising an initial concern or following the official complaints procedure. Delegates will develop the unique insight to the emotional motivations often behind complaints and conflict and how empathy can help learn lessons and reach meaningful resolutions, for organisations and individuals.

Testimonials here  Email for any enquiries Carolyn

‘Empathy Training for working in care home settings’ training program under development and available soon.

‘Empathy Training to effectively support schools with loss, grief, fear and sadness issues’ training program under development and available soon.

News – Health providers need greater empathy for disadvantaged

Third-grader James likes math and Batman. He often comes home from school to an empty house. Like many children in his Memphis neighborhood and in poor communities across our nation, he is overweight and, even at the age of 8, pre-diabetic. He also suffers from asthma and has to make scary visits to the emergency room a couple of times each year. States Kendra G. Hotz, The Tennesean.

Doreen, a young Medicare recipient, tells me that when she goes to a typical doctor’s office, she is treated like she’s dirty because she is poor, yet when she goes to a certain community clinic that she has come to trust, she is treated like a queen.

Brenda, who cleans homes and serves as a caregiver for a few elderly Memphis residents, was labeled “non-compliant” when she didn’t take her potassium supplement as prescribed. In reality, she could not afford the supplement, so she searched for food with the highest potassium content.

Ask a group of medical students or residents what the prospects are for a healthy life for James, Doreen and Brenda, and they’ll likely tell you that they are on track for a lifetime of expensive medical care, chronic pain and even shortened life expectancy. They would ask why these patients don’t eat better and exercise more, trust in medical experts or follow doctor’s orders.

America has great doctors, hospitals and medical research facilities, but not everyone benefits equally. The poor and racial and ethnic minorities suffer from health disparities, and this can be attributed in part to unconscious bias on the part of health-care providers. Health-care providers also fail to form empathetic connections to patients who are different from themselves, and this can exacerbate those disparities.

A number of studies show that empathy, the ability to understand and appreciate patients’ emotional needs, is associated with improved health outcomes, especially when it comes to following a plan of care. Doctors who lack empathy become judgmental and do not not try to not understand the economic challenges the poor face. Instead, they write “non-compliant” on Brenda’s chart, and that label gets passed on to others.

The good news is that empathy can be learned, practiced and improved upon. We have to do better at integrating this critical skill into the medical profession. The Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy (JSPE) measures empathy among students and physicians, and it shows that men and women lose empathy during medical school. Women do display slightly higher empathy levels than men.

A study at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School found that empathy training with medical students could prevent the drop in empathy that we usually see in the third year of medical school.

What does this new field of empathy training look like? An example is a collaboration with the Rocking Chair Project by Jefferson’s Sidney Kimmel Medical College, where students deliver and assemble rocking chairs in the homes of indigent mothers of newborn babies.

Nia Zalamea, a general surgeon, and I have recently developed an online course on creating equitable relationships between patients and providers for The Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Open School, and there are many more efforts underway.

To be sure, there are social structures that deny robust life chances to many, and medical institutions were not designed to solve social problems. Health disparities will only be overcome completely when we make policy and structural changes in the form of zoning laws, transit and educational systems and more. But while we work for these changes, empathy can go a long way toward creating a more just health-care system for James, Doreen and Brenda.

Original news source:

Here in England with our great NHS C&C Empathy Training  provide specialised training to empower health and social care professionals to safeguard well-being and prevent prolonged psychological harm (Duty of Candour) to both service users and staff within the complaints and Serious Incident system and in all communication settings.

The therapeutic relationship between clinician and patient, the 6 C’s within nursing and preventing psychological harm within complaints are all underpinned with empathy and emotional development skills.

The Director – Carolyn Cleveland, an established and thought provoking speaker can provide healthcare organisations with training from conference speaking to full training days. See below for further information and discount offer for your organisation:

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Using Empathy and Emotional Development Conference Subjects

“Carolyn skilfully engages any audience, from a single individual to a large conference, not just providing inspiration, but with her passion, galvanising it into motivation, enabling and supporting health professionals to improve their practice. As a trained counsellor she brings a detached rigour to discussions, with an ability to focus on key issues, whilst acknowledging the breadth of all the complications that need to be considered.” Christopher Fincken, Chair of the Caldicott Guardians Council

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Using Empathy Effectively to Aid Communication

A one-day course to develop a deeper level of communication to approach difficult and sensitive conversations with patients, families and other members of staff with empathy. Delegates will develop psychological understanding and essential skills to best communicate with compassion and confidence. The training includes self-awareness and reflection skills in line with the latest NMC revalidation requirements.

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Using Empathy to Help Resolve Complaints

A one-day course for ideal for those working with families raising an initial concern or following the official complaints procedure. Delegates will develop the confidence to handle such conversations with empathy, understanding and consistency  to reach a meaningful resolution and help to minimise conflict. Prevention of prolonged psychological harm is embedded throughout this thought provoking day.

For testimonials click HERE

For 20% discount on training days and conference bookings email Carolyn and quote the following code CCET20news 0751 798 949

News – The importance of authentic empathy when connecting with consumers

Gaia Grant and Andrew Grant write that the best ideas and solutions come from better emotional connections, in this excerpt adapted from their book The Innovation Race: How to change a culture to change the game.
Who would have thought that emotions would contribute to better innovation, stronger marketing impact, and general business success? Yet that is exactly what researchers have found: the best ideas and solutions come from better emotional connections.
Empathy is now pretty much universally recognised as an integral part of all areas of the innovation process, from A to Z, and as a foundation for creative development. Bestselling business author Dan Pink believes empathy ‘makes the world a better place’ because it is all about ‘standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes’.
The shopping trolley challenge
The importance of empathy and understanding the user’s perspective when designing and selling new products and services has been embraced by a wide range of companies. As an example of how this can work in practice, let’s consider the challenge of shopping trolleys.
Have you ever noticed how difficult these trolleys can be to negotiate around the supermarket aisles, how items become wedged or buried deep in the basket, and how frustratingly long it can take to get through the checkout process? IDEO was set the challenge of designing a new shopping cart (it’s worth watching the ABC Nightline video that shows them going through the process).
To deal with shoppers’ frustration at having to wrestle a full trolley up and down the aisles, a number of years ago IDEO designers came up with ideas for carts that are more like skeletons providing a frame for baskets to be slotted in and stacked to allow for collecting and searching for a few items at a time. They added hooks around the edges of the skeletal structure on which shoppers can hang plastic bags. They then designed a cart concept with a scanner on the handle so shoppers can do the scanning as they place the items in the basket rather than having to go through the whole process at the checkout at the end.
The product had immediate appeal to a wide range of independent consumers who had felt the frustrations for themselves.
Taking the designer’s perspective
The ‘design thinking‘ approach to innovation has captured and developed the concept of empathy, to make it inseparable from the process. Design thinking (which originated from Stanford d-school) is a powerful ideation and design process widely used by businesses today to come up with new products and services and to find ways to market them. Leading global innovative companies such as Apple and Google, along with more established Australian companies such as AMP and the Commonwealth Bank, use design thinking on a day-to-day basis.
The process focuses on looking at a challenge that may appear to have no clear solution, identifying the underlying problem at the heart of the issue, then trying to understand the different perspectives and needs related to the issue. The designer will initially identify the desires and needs of the users and, through an iterative process of prototyping, develop products, systems and services that best meet the user’s needs. CEO and IDEO President Tim Brown describes design thinking as, “a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.”
Brown also nominates an outward-looking perspective and empathy as prerequisites for innovation: “A sense of inquiry, of curiosity, is essential for innovation, and the quickest way for removing curiosity in my opinion is to have organisations that are too inward-facing,” he suggests. “A sense of empathy for the world and for the people whose problems they might be trying to solve – that’s essential.”
Empathy provides the ‘human-centred’ focus in design thinking. It is the link between the person designing the new product or solution and the end user. By starting with empathy, the designer can understand and relate to the issues the user faces and therefore create designs that best meet their needs.


“When dealing with ‘consumers’ within health care and the complaints system, which are by default patients and loved ones and often vulnerable in some way, empathy and trying to see the world of another is imperative. Having gone through the complaints system myself, I found out first hand what it could be like.

My challenge with empathy was to understand the position of the clinicians and the organisational culture that was creating the barriers to honest, open and compassionate communication. Skills of empathy and my own emotional development from years of counselling and psychology studies, enabled me to do this and create training that can help healthcare professionals, complaints teams and indeed organisations to create a skills and cultures that promote positive outcomes and change” Carolyn Cleveland, Founder C&C Empathy Training

Connect with compassion – The Innovation Race:

Rather than trying to use empathy as a shallow marketing tactic, empathy should become a deeper, more transformational form of compassion: authentic empathy can actually make a difference in people’s lives, continues Gaia Grant and Andrew Grant
As an example of this principle at work, the conception and promotion of number of useful inventions can be traced back to creative people who have attempted to understand and assist the disabled. Inventions such as the bendy straw, the telephone, the typewriter and icon-based keyboards have all become popular because the inventors tried to help disabled people they knew, and then the marketing people picked up on the broader possibilities.
‘In empathising with others, we create things that we might never have created for ourselves,’says a Co.Design article on the subject. ‘We see past the specifics of what we know, to experiences that might actually be universal.’
Which makes authentic empathy a powerful tool for positive change.
Original news source:

Innovative and thought provoking training for the NHS Complaints teams, healthcare professionals and managers.

2 Complaints thumbnailUsing Empathy to Help Resolve Complaints

For regional days please see here 

For in house enquiries please contact me directly on:

20% discount for training associated with this blog quote CCET20blog

News – Brain’s empathy centre identified

Empathy and the generosity it sparks are essential human traits. Although scientists have investigated these behaviours in depth, the neural mechanisms beneath them are still not fully understood. Breaking research gives new clues, reports Medical News Today

Humans are complex animals living in a complex environment. Every day, our brain makes thousands of decisions, helping us navigate social challenges.

Sometimes we do things to benefit ourselves; other times, we decide to act in a way that benefits others.

Humans evolved to be social animals, and, in social groups, people who only look after themselves cannot thrive within the group. An individual needs to act in a way that allows them to survive, of course, but there also needs to be generosity.

Being generous involves an understanding of the other person’s needs; this takes empathy – an ability to put one’s self in another’s shoes.

Showing empathy and acting upon it is an essential part of being human.

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“Nowhere is this empathy more  imperative and needed than in medical complaints organisations, where harm may have already occurred and the subject matter is rooted firmly in human emotion”.      Carolyn Cleveland

Understanding pro-social behaviour

Recently, researchers from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom decided to add to the current understanding of so-called pro-social behaviours and investigate the neurological origin of empathy and generosity.

Dr. Patricia Lockwood published her work this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Although people have a remarkable inclination to engage in pro-social behaviours, there are substantial differences between individuals.

Empathy, the capacity to vicariously experience and understand another person’s feelings has been put forward as a critical motivator of pro-social behaviours, but we wanted to test why and how they might be linked.” Dr. Patricia Lockwood

To study this human trait, the researchers scanned participants using an MRI machine while they carried out tasks. The specific tasks were based on well-used models that test how people learn to benefit themselves. Participants had to work out which symbols they needed to press to bring themselves the biggest reward.

As a twist to the classic experiment, the participants also had to learn which symbols were more likely to give someone else a reward.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the results showed that people learned to benefit themselves quicker than they learned to help others. Additionally, using the MRI scanner, the team pinpointed the region of the brain that was activated when carrying out actions that helped other people.

The subgenual anterior cingulate cortex

The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is an area of the brain known to be involved in the control of a number of automatic processes, such as the regulation of blood pressure and heart rate. It is also thought to be important in higher level functions, including reward anticipation, impulse control, decision-making, and emotion.

When the participants were learning how to help others, a specific part of the ACC was activated called the subgenual anterior cingulate cortex (sgACC); this region was the only area to light up on brain scans, and it was not triggered while learning actions which favoured the individual.

This implies that the sgACC is particularly tuned to controlling and monitoring generosity.

Interestingly, the team also found that the sgACC was not equally active in each of the scanned brains. Those who self-reported higher levels of empathy had higher activation levels, whereas individuals who did not activate it so readily, rated themselves as less empathic.

Although previous studies have highlighted certain, overlapping areas of the brain involved in empathy and pro-social behaviour, this study adds a new level of specificity.

“This the first time anyone has shown a particular brain process for learning pro-social behaviours – and a possible link from empathy to learning to help others”. Dr. Patricia Lockwood

Original Source:

Want to learn how empathy can help your staff reach meaningful resolutions in NHS complaints?

 2 Complaints thumbnailUsing Empathy to Help Resolve Complaints

Email  about training at your organisation.

“Three out of four investigations by hospitals into complaints that patients suffered avoidable injury or death fail to identify serious failings in care, leaving distraught families in the dark.” Julie Mellor Parliamentary Health Ombudsman, Dec 2015

Description: A one-day course for ideal for those working with families raising an initial concern or following the official complaints procedure. Delegates will develop, through unique, thought provoking material, the understanding and confidence to handle complaints and the often complex human emotions. Helping to aid effective investigations, reach meaningful resolutions and minimize conflict.

“I’ve got to say – I think it’s the best training I’ve ever been to… I truly believe if more people within the NHS spent the day with you, it would fix a huge amount of the complaints and concerns we receive regularly….I have been able to understand more and make inroads to reach a resolution; it helped greatly. Absolutely everyone would benefit from this training.”  PALS Officer

Email for information about training at your organisation


NEWS-Empathic people quicker to learn to help others, study shows

People with a higher level of empathy learn to help others more quickly than their more hard-hearted peers, scientists say. (The Guardian)

Researchers scanned the brains of more than 30 individuals while they learned how to carry out a task for their own benefit, someone else’s benefit or no-one’s benefit.

The results revealed that, on average, participants learned how to “win” at the task most quickly when they were the one to benefit. But, when it came to winning rewards for others, those who were more empathic were quicker learners.

“Overall people are slower to learn to help somebody else,” said Patricia Lockwood, lead author of the research from the University of Oxford. “But people who report themselves to be higher in empathy learn at a similar rate to benefit themselves and the other person.”


Writing in the journal The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,researchers from the University of Oxford and University College, London describe how they sought to probe the link between empathy and actions that are carried out to benefit others – so-called “prosocial behaviours”.

The researchers began by scanning the brains of 31 men, aged between 19 and 32, while they carried out a task in which they were asked to select one of two symbols on a computer screen. One of the symbols was linked with a high chance of scoring points that would then be converted into a cash prize, while the other had a low chance of winning points. By a process of trial and error, the participants were able to work out which symbol was most likely to scoop them a high score and hence more cash.

The process was carried out for three scenarios: one in which the prize money was kept by the participant themselves, once where it was being won for somebody they had only just met, and one where no-one received any prize money.

The scientists then used a computer model to analyse how quickly the participants learnt to associate the correct symbol with a high chance of winning points, and to probe how activity changed in different regions of the brain during such learning.

The results revealed that, on average, the participants learned which was the point-scoring symbol more slowly when they were gathering points for somebody else, or for no-one, than when they were notching up points to win money for themselves.

The scientists then analysed data from regions of the brain thought to be involved in learning. Changes in activity in a region called the ventral striatum reflected the way in which the participants learnt to rack up the points in all three scenarios, while changes in activity in a region known as the subgenual anterior cingulate cortex (sgACC), were only linked to how participants learned to benefit someone else.

“The sgACC increases its activity when the outcome for another person is better than expected, so when we score points for the other person, and decreases its activity when the outcome for another person is worse than expected, so when we don’t score points for the other person,” said Lockwood.

That, the scientists say, suggests that the sgACC is involved in learning how to tackle tasks that benefit others.

Each participant was also asked to complete a standard questionnaire to probe their empathy levels. The scientists found that participants who ranked higher for empathy levels were faster learners when it came to winning points for others in the initial task. Those with higher levels of empathy were also found to have stronger responses in the sgACC when undertaking the task for the benefit of others.

Bhismadev Chakrabarti, professor of neuroscience and mental health at the University of Reading, said the research adds to a growing body of evidence that empathy and prosocial behaviour are linked. But, he adds, the work does not reveal whether being more empathic leads to someone being better at learning how to win awards for others, or whether it is being a quicker learner at such tasks that increases empathy.

It would be interesting to explore whether the same results are found in more everyday examples of prosocial behaviour, says Chakrabarti. “You might be fantastic at learning the rules of the game, whether you are playing for yourself or whether you are playing for another person, but does it translate to whether you would give more money to charity and so on?” he said.

Chakrabarti believes the identity of the person you are playing the game for is also an important consideration. “If you were playing on behalf of your best friend versus playing on behalf of a complete stranger I think there might be slightly different levels of motivation for that,” he said. “Empathy is not a fixed thing.”


Original Source:


Blog and news: Denmark schools train students in empathy as early as preschool

For years our brain has been considered fairly fixed in terms of something like our empathic ability, but thanks to modern neuroscience, advanced brain imaging and the understanding of neuroplasticity (the growth and rewiring of our brain cells) it is now known that our brains are capable of change. In fact we are the architect of our own brain.

learning-and-neuroplasticity-in-the-brain-759x450Altering  beliefs, learning to view something differently or becoming mindful of repetitive, often unconscious reactions to unpleasant emotions, you can actually alter the neurochemistry and the structure of your brain. Empathy is a natural resource but can be developed too to optimise it. It’s not easy, but it can be done! We can emotionally train and strengthen our brain.

So how great to see that a Danish school is embedding empathy is the preschool children, placing emotional development as important as academic development.

From experiencing three pre – school children in my care, one non biologcial child, who’s mum (my friend) had died when she was four (six months before she started school)  and I subsequently brought up. Then my biological twins, who knew this first child of mine as their big sister, started school at four, six months after her untimely death aged fifteen.

Whilst my academic background is counselling, specialising in loss and bereavement, I am also painfully qualified to know first hand the difficulties of having a pre-school child needing a high level of emotional care. My main objective,  was to ensure they felt safe, happy and emotionally protected in school, rather than desperate for them to master their academic objectives. I knew that Sruggling At Schoolto reach their learning potential, they needed to feel emotionally safe and not pre-occupied by grief, anxiety and worry. CARE was more important that ABC. From their peer group as well as their teachers.

As a now 47 year old woman, I know that having empathy and emotional awareness training at school did not happen when I was at school and I know it didn’t really for my children too much either. It was something I have always had a high natural capacity for, but one that I have been learning and developing for over 25 years now. Working now with health and and social care professionals to develop their empathy and emotional awareness in the unique way that I do (particularly with the NHS complaints system) I see time and again, how much more empowered they feel. In understanding themselves and feeling more confident handling other peoples difficult emotions in their role at work and also being allowed to feel human in a policy driven system,  is an understated but hugely beneficial life skill to have and learn ….and keep learning….and keep developing.

How lucky these young children in Denmark  are to have this important life lesson embedded into their curriculum and their young brains (full story below). With mental health issues on the rise in the UK, I can’t help but think that if our youngsters had this support, when they become adults, they would  have more capacity to emotionally support themselves, support others and avoid the crisis that so many people go through when life throws it’s inevitable painful challenges at them.

For more information about the work that C&C Empathy Training do, visit our website

Testimonials here

Previous news and blogs here

Original news source:

Denmark schools train students in empathy as early as preschool

Dive Brief:

  • Danish children are exposed to lessons as early as preschool that are specifically designed to foster feelings of empathy and understanding.
  • The Atlantic reports a program called Step by Step presents young students with pictures of kids showing a range of emotions and helps them identify these feelings, talk about them and respect them.
  • Anti-bullying programs teach students to care more about each other, the CAT-kit program helps students develop empathy and emotional awareness and classroom teachers group students of mixed abilities to encourage collaboration, teamwork and respect across differences.

Dive Insight:

Social-emotional learning is an important and increasingly popular focus for K-12 in the U.S., alongside the major academic subject areas. Schools are where students develop a good amount of their social skills, learning how to interact and work with others. That is one reason why people oppose segregated schools. Especially in a globalized world, a student’s ability to respect and work with someone who is not like her is a prized skill.

Many schools are shifting kindergarten back to a play-based curriculum, following years of pressure to drill skills that students need for standardised tests just a few years later. Play, however, helps children learn to collaborate and gives them a more engaging opportunity to improve math and literacy skills. Perhaps a greater focus on empathy and this type of play early on can decrease the rates of bullying in middle and high schools in the United States.