The Presence of Compassion in Therapy

Miriam Brill, Nurit Nahmani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The article examines the uniqueness of compassion as a healing element in current therapeutic processes. It aims to distinguish compassion from concepts such as pity, consolation, sympathy, and empathy, which have been attributed to it in the past. Despite their linkage, the emotional component in compassion is perceived as dominant in contrast to the applied cognitive ingredient in empathy. The essence of compassion in this article has been examined along three major directions: the definitions of compassion in therapy, in a concrete and applicable manner; the perception of compassion as an intersubjective concept of therapist–client relationships, and the absence of compassion components from therapeutic relationships, known as a “compassion fatigue” process, and its implications. The implementation of compassion in therapy is illustrated through two case studies, each from a different life stage—a male in his seventies and a young woman in her thirties—each being treated according to a different theoretical approach: narrative and psychosocial. The essential presence of compassion and self-compassion in the fabric of the therapeutic relationship, as reflected in both illustrations, turns a spotlight onto the innovative dynamics of therapist–client relationships. The reciprocal component that evolves produces legitimacy to experience self-compassion, and the discovery of compassion on the part of the therapist enables the client to develop self-compassion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-21
Number of pages12
JournalClinical Social Work Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


  • Compassion
  • Compassion fatigue
  • Self-compassion
  • Therapeutic relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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