Social connection: empathy and mentalization for teachers

Paul Swan, Philip John Riley

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    30 Citations (Scopus)


    Attending to the academic and social/emotional developmental needs of students has and continues to be a significant challenge for teachers and relatively little research examining the impact of teacher empathy exists. Empathy is an important skill for educators to facilitate the creation of a positive learning environment with students and professional responsibilities of teachers to be empathic are defined in standards frameworks worldwide. Yet, defining empathy remains somewhat contested in the literature among philosophers, psychologists, anthropologists and neuroscientists. Empathy is not unitary, but rather is composed by experience, sharing, mind perception and mentalization. Simulating the mental states of others, or mentalizing , is a necessary component for empathic responding to others. Drawing on Fonagy s mentalization model, we examine the conceptual links between: mentalization and empathy in teachers; whether empathy skills can be taught to teachers; and, implications for classroom practice.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)220 - 233
    Number of pages14
    JournalPastoral Care in Education: An International Journal of Personal, Social and Emotional Development
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

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