I’m not sure this will answer your question as your inquiry was rather broad. I will say this: I have very often while listening to a patient’s awful circumstances in the present or past will leave me with tears in my eyes and often with the tears rolling down my cheeks. This is often accompanied by a temporary inability to talk. I believe that my tears are far more expressive than anything I could say.
My tears have been met with a variety of responses: astonishment that I would feel that strongly; a desire to protect me from the more horrifying instances of abuse; but, mostly, a sincere gratitude that I, too, can feel how horrifying their experience(s) were. Their feeling of thankfulness for affirming through my emotional response that if I can feel it so directly just through the patient’s words and emotions, these patients can then have even more empathy for themselves.
Not having an obvious emotional response to the horrors of evil that so many have endured would be worse than disingenuous. At the end of therapies where I have periodically displayed my deepest feelings, the patients with whom that has happened say that those moments of shared horror, grief, sorrow, wonder, joy, fear, etc. were the most healing for them, and a few have even said they thought those moments may have been healing for me, too.
How perceptive and right they were.
3.7k Views · View Upvoters · Answer requested by Louise Matthias