Empathy, social intelligence and relationship-based social work

David Howe


Empathy and social intelligence are key ingredients in promoting good quality relationships, both personally and professionally. The evolution of social intelligence and other ‘mind-reading’ skills account for much of the success of our species. They help foster understanding and co-operation. Children who are in relationship with empathic, emotionally intelligent parents and other family members also develop raised levels of empathy and emotional intelligence. Children who suffer abuse, neglect and rejection, whose parents possess low levels of empathy and social understanding, are less likely to develop healthy levels of social intelligence. This puts them at risk of experiencing stress in relationships. It also increases their chances of developing poor mental health, problematic social behaviour, and not dealing well with life stressors. High empathy and socially intelligent social workers are likely to establish good working relationships with their clients. A good working relationship, or therapeutic alliance, needs to be in place before the social worker can effectively deliver her service, provide support, advocate, give advice, administer treatment, or deliver an evidence-based practice.

Słowa kluczowe: empathy, relationship-based social work, emotional intelligence

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