Chances are that many of you reading this article have experienced at least one doctor who could stand to work on their bedside manners. Often, individuals in the medical community will have a lot to offer, but empathy and emotional support are not always in that regiment. On the flip side, hopefully, many of you have also experienced healthcare providers who are attentive, caring, and take the time to listen to what you have to say.
At the Lakehouse Recovery Center, our trained professionals — therapists, counselors, and case managers — prioritize providing the support, attention, and empathy needed in maintaining an effective support system for sobriety.
Compassion should be included in all forms of healthcare, and when it comes to addiction and mental health, it is absolutely essential. Without empathy and compassion, patients can not be properly treated. This is why a balance between an emotional and clinical support system is so important.
Medical Profession Stereotypes
BMC Medical Ethics describes the contradicting requirements of medical professionals to be both “clinically competent” and “empathetic” towards their patients. Their article on the importance of emotional support in clinical care describes the general stereotype of doctors and medical professionals as rational and emotionally detached. In many cases, those rational characteristics do in fact hinder doctors from being emotionally involved with patients, which can create a negative experience for the patient and the patient’s family.
On the other hand, medical professionals should be cautious to not get too attached as well. Overly empathetic professionals can sometimes have a difficult time separating their emotions from the emotions of their patients, feeling copious amounts of guilt and worry over patients and their situations.
For some, it may be a fine line, but finding that balance is critical for physicians, therapists, counselors, and even case managers in order to treat their patients competently.
The article mentioned above claims that practicing empathy requires “experience” and “self-awareness.” Essentially, it can not be taught, but individuals can successfully implement effective empathy practices into every part of their life with the right tools. Empathy can be thought of as the ability to understand, interpret, and even feel someone else’s emotions, fears, and anxieties, which in turn requires someone to be in tune with their own emotions, fears, and anxieties. By understanding one’s own feelings, one can better understand the feelings of others.
To effectively implement empathy into practice, specifically when it comes to medical professionals, these practices should be put into place:
- Critically focusing on patient situations, motives, and reactions
- Analyzing the emotions provoked by certain experiences
- Sharing experience with colleagues or a support system
- Mindfulness courses
- Learning stress management techniques
While negative experiences with emotionally stunted medical professionals can be frustrating and even worse discouraging, it seems fitting to preface that medical professionals have struggles, too, since we’re discussing empathy. Just as patients need to create support systems, it’s important for medical professionals to do the same. Not only will it help them to practice implementing empathy into their professional lives, but it can allow them to experience more peace and calm in their personal lives as well.
Emotional Support Research
Research has shown the influence of social support on an individual’s overall health. That research looks at the effectiveness of interventions in terms of chronic illness populations. Interventions that can be implemented include support groups, educating on psychosocial skills, internet-based support, and hotline support numbers.
While not too much has been conducted, professionals are continually researching the connection between emotional support and health improvements. Hopefully, further research will consider the importance of support in treating chronic illnesses like addiction and substance use disorder, as well as the effects of implementing empathy in treating addiction.
Peer Support vs. The Support of Medical Professionals
When it comes to recovery, empathy and emotional support are just as important as in any healthcare environment. However, emotional support from a clinical professional should not replace peer support. One key to recovery is surrounding yourself with people who are experiencing similar struggles to yours. The benefits of peer support have been proven on many occasions.
Our staff at The Lakehouse Recovery Center is diligent in treating patients with the compassion and empathy they deserve. Our team of therapists, counselors, and case managers aims to make the process of recovery as effective and long-term as possible. We offer virtual and in-person programs designed to help you on your path to recovery in a way that tailors treatment to the individual’s physical and emotional needs.
For those in recovery, emotional support is important to receive from peer support groups and social supports, as well as medical and clinical professionals. In order for a patient in recovery to be effectively treated, that person’s doctor, therapist, counselor, and even case manager need to all be able to provide care and treatment with empathy and compassion. Despite the ever-present stereotype of rational medical professionals and their inability to empathize with patients, empathy is something that can be effectively practiced and implemented into treatment. Research has shown that emotional support has increased overall health and quality of life in people of all circumstances, including those in recovery. If you or someone you love needs treatment as well as a program that offers love, empathy, and compassion, then we encourage you to reach out to the Lakehouse Recovery Center by calling (877) 762-3707 today. We can help you attain long-term success in your recovery.