Showing Empathy to someone who is Antisocial

May 30, 2019

Showing Empathy to someone who is Antisocial

Can we show empathy to an antisocial offender?

This is a question I ask myself from time to time in my clinical practice.
The difficult thing is not the fact that I am looking for a straight forward yes or no answer.
Through my daily work,
small and large things (incidents) do force me to reflect on where I place myself professionally and personally on the ethical and moral line.

When I develop a therapeutic relationship with the patient,
how do I react to him (or her) when the patient tries to hurt the others?
What are the words I use in terms of
showing my support and care to the patient when wrong and serious harm is being done,
but contributed by his mental health?
How would I respond to the staff who are verbally and physically attacked, and are very angry at what the patient has done?
How do I handle the fragile and broken relationship between the patient and the staff?

Mental health awareness is not an easy thing.
Stigma is complex and hard to pinpoint.
Particularly when severe mental illness causes others pain, injury and trauma.

Working in the forensic field does remind me how hard it is to be passionate about the job.
Through incidents people can become
guarded of mistakes being found,
feelings being hurt.
Work becomes just a job.

Perhaps the take home message of this, again is not to pinpoint the right or correct approach
with the patient,
but firstly accept there are many more things we need to attend to and considerate before we define our judgment.
Our response can in fact vary depending on how much we engage and go into the in-depth layers of relationships.
We humbly accept we are all learning,
and we ought to communicate more with each other.

(Photo from Poland)
Credit: WL

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