Empathy – Activity 5

Understand and share the feelings of others

Activity type:
Case studies

Learning goals:
The exercise aims at assisting participants through real life scenarios to practice empathy and try to recognize how the clients are feeling. Given different scenarios, the participants have the opportunity to put themselves into the role of a practitioner having to deal with different cases and in each of them to try to use methods/questions to express his/her empathy toward the client.

Group activity

1 hour

Materials needed:


Get in groups of 3. Choose one of the 3 scenarios each of you to get in the role of the client and get prepared to express what you are feeling toward the situation “you” experience.

The practitioner shall try to express his empathy toward the client.

The observer writes down the reactions of the client and the practitioner and the best practices the practitioner implemented to express empathy.

You shall get in all 3 roles.


1 – Filipe the Agitator
Christina is facilitating a collective session on job search practices for a group of more than 100 people from different educational and professional backgrounds. Throughout the session, Christina is frequently interrupted by Filipe who appears to have an opinion on every topic and always ends up blaming the government, the political system, or the big capitalist companies. Filipe’s seemingly innocent remarks provoke approving and disapproving responses from the rest of the group, leading to chatter among people and additional public remarks. For Christina, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain the focus of the session and cover all contents in time.

2 – Bill the Angry Teenager
Bill, a 16-year-old boy, is an excellent student. Despite his hard efforts, he never receives any approval from his parents, especially not from his mother. He feels that they are never satisfied with his work and achievements, while they show great admiration for his little brother. Now, in Olivia’s career counselling session, Bill is not interested in discussing his personal career-related needs and interests. His primary interest is to make a choice that will hurt and upset his parents and make them feel powerless.

3 – Laura and Sports – Passion or Career?
Monica, a school counsellor, welcomes Laura (14, 8th grade) and her parents. Laura would like to become a professional volleyball player. She wants to continue her studies at the Sports High School and passed an aptitude test. Her parents, who initially supported the idea, now think that Laura should visit one of the best high schools in the city to take foreign language classes, instead. Laura is good at foreign languages, and her parents fear that the Sports High School will not promote Laura’s academic learning. The decision what school Laura will attend needs to be made immediately. Laura and her parents vehemently oppose each other.

Questions for reflection:
  • Did the practitioner recognize the feeling of the client?
  • Was it easy or difficult to recognize the feeling of the client?
  • Did the practitioner manage to show empathy?
  • How did the client feel in the counselling process?
  • What techniques/practices were helpful towards expressing empathy?
  • What techniques/practices were not helpful towards expressing empathy?
  • Have you experienced a similar situation like the one in the study case? How did you feel, how did you manage, how was the situation solved/ended?
  • What can you do, generally, when confronting with various situations/feelings