The Power Of Love: How Empathy Heals

Empathy kindness people hugging

What is empathy? 

Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference.

While some people seem to be naturally more empathic it is also a learned behaviour and anyone can practice empathic skills.

The best thing to start with is active listening. Put your phone away and really listen to what someone is saying, instead of simply waiting for your turn to speak.

How can empathising heal? 

Truly empathising with someone can make them feel deeply understood and Link Centre Director Geoff Hopping believes compassion, empathy and love can be extremely healing.

He says: “I have worked in a maximum-security prison with people who have both caused, and experienced, incredible harms throughout their lives.

“I have also been a mental health nurse and worked with people who were institutionalised in an asylum setting.

“What I have learned during this time is, however the symptoms express themselves, whether they be mild or extreme, those who are suffering and in mental distress are all in need of the same thing – compassion, empathy and love.”

Geoff believes those who are the most stigmatised are often those who come up against cultural and societal systems that have failed them: the systems of family, education, health, and criminal justice.

He says: “These systems can manifest as an abusive family, impacting our attachments and sense of self.

“Or it may be the structural demands placed on us by society in the world of education, work and our economy, that can lead to states of stress, anxiety and depression.”

Everyone suffering is in need of the same thing – compassion, empathy and love

Instead of confronting and challenging these schisms, we choose instead to absolve society of the wrongdoing, placing the responsibility entirely within the individual experiencing distress.

Geoff says: “I have seen how our approach to treating those in need of support can be isolating and hostile, further exacerbating symptoms of ill health.

“Criminalising those with addiction is just one example of this.

“We all create tools to survive and where these have been developed in response to flawed systems, they can lead to maladjusted patterns of behaviour that can cause further pain and harm throughout our lives.”

What responsibility do we have as therapists? 

Therapists have a responsibility to hold all of these structural and systemic harms in mind, seeing both the individual and the world into which the individual has had to survive.

Geoff continues: “We have the privilege of holding someone in a unique relationship that provides space to understand the origins of those patterns, to grieve for what was needed and never received and to support those in need to understand themselves with the compassion, empathy and love they need to create new tools that help them survive in a healthy way.

“It is in that space that a new way of understanding can be developed: for our clients, for ourselves and of the world around us.

“It is in that space that monumental change can happen.”

At The Link Centre we offer counselling and psychotherapy courses both online and at our centre in Plumpton.

Whether you’re just starting out or already on your way to becoming a qualified counsellor or psychotherapist, we have courses for all levels.

If you’re interested in training with us go to or email

Any Questions? Call us on 01273 466522

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