Teaching empathy: A framework rooted in social cognitive neuroscience and social justice

Karen E. Gerdes, Elizabeth Segal, Kelly Jackson, Jennifer L. Mullins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

64 Scopus citations

Abstract

We propose that a targeted and structured explication of empathy is a useful, if not essential, foundation for social work theory and practice. We outline a social work framework for empathy, one that is rooted in an interdisciplinary context, emphasizes recent findings in the field of social cognitive neuroscience, and yet is embedded in a social work context. The framework lends itself to identifiable education components that social work educators can implement across the curriculum. We can help students understand the basic process of neural pathway development that determines their affective empathic responses and develop and maintain cognitive empathic abilities. In addition, students can learn to use their knowledge, values, and skills, informed by empathy, to take empathic action consciously.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-131
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Social Work Education
Volume47
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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