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This site is aimed at healthcare students, educators and practitioners and offers you an informal way to share your thoughts and feelings about all aspects of health care practice through poetry, and to share in the work of others.

I enjoyed the whole process - it allowed me to explore my thoughts and put them down on paper in a way that academic writing doesn't really allow

Ruth Perez-Merino, first year nursing student

The Caring Words Blog

Kirsten JackThis is where we'll keep you up to date with news about the project. You can read the latest entry here:


If you want to check what's happened previously, have a look at the blog pages.

Kirsten Jack, Project Leader


Thinking about Empathy…

The term ‘empathy’ is used frequently in health and social care practice. It is viewed as a desirable act in interpersonal communication with others. It is often described as a state of ‘putting ourselves in another person’s shoes’, so we can see their perspective, to provide better care. However, whether we can ever really know what it is like to be someone else, is open to question. Empathy is also more than understanding the perspectives of other people and can often involve our own feelings and past experiences. When we hear the stories told by others, it can prompt our own memories and feelings from the past to be relived.

In health and social care settings, thinking about empathy has been developed from the field of psychotherapy and counselling practice, most notably from the seminal theory of Carl Rogers. Rogers’ (1957: p 95) classic definition of empathy is:  

‘To sense the client’s private world as if it were your own, without ever losing the ‘as if’ quality’  

Rogers describes the need to be able to sense another person’s private world acknowledging that we can never really experience what they are truly feeling. We can only understand their feelings, based on our own personal experiences of similar times. We also need to convey our understanding back to the other person, so that they feel understood and valued as a person.

So, how do we develop our ability to be empathic towards others? One way might be to explore another’s perspective through poetry. The following is a link to some work by Julia Darling, who provided alternative perspectives about living with cancer, through poetry that is often humorous and celebratory:

Sudden Collapses In Public Places | Julia Darling

Reading poetry opens another person’s world to us and often provokes an empathic response. It helps us to explore difficult perspectives and consider how we feel about them, away from the pressure of the environment in which we work.

Perhaps you are now thinking about the power of poetry to explore your feelings and empathy towards others. Enjoy your reading in the days and weeks ahead.

Bye for now.
Kirsten Jack


Rogers, C.R. (1957). The necessary and sufficient conditions of therapeutic personality change. Journal of Consulting Psychology 21, 95-103.