How can we create a healthy workplace for health and healing professionals?

Study after study confirms that health and healing professionals who demonstrate empathy provide better care with higher patient/client satisfaction. However, empathic burnout and compassion fatigue are a constant presence in the working lives of health professionals.

Expecting more empathy from doctors, nurses, social workers, therapists, and other health and healing professionals — without making sure that their empathy is healthy and sustainable — is not the answer. The best approach is to make sure that this professionalized empathy is intentional, self-aware, self-enriching, and healthy.
The most appropriate approach, then, is not to expect more empathy from doctors, nurses, social workers, therapists, and other health and healing professionals. The best approach is to make sure that their professionalized empathy is healthy, intentional, self-aware, self-enriching, and sustainable.

Healthy Empathy® is an education and consultation program that helps health and healing professionals develop sustainable empathy skills, improve patient/client care outcomes, create a supportive work environment, and nurture themselves with focused self-care practices.

Using the groundbreaking Six Essential Aspects of Empathy model developed by Karla McLaren, M.Ed., Healthy Empathy makes all of the processes in empathy easily accessible and manageable. Healthy Empathy is also based on the expertise of Tino Plank, MSN, RN, who has over three decades of process improvement and clinical health leadership experience.

This collaboration ensures that the needs of patients and clients are met skillfully — while empathy fatigue and burnout are avoided. Healthy Empathy also focuses on a full-team approach so that the healthcare workplace itself becomes a healthy and supportive environment.

The Healthy Empathy program provides:

  • Strategies for patient and client support that create and sustain healthy empathy.
  • Emotional skills and awareness training for participants and the entire workplace team.
  • Specific, step-by-step development of the Six Essential Aspects of Empathy.
  • Strategies to engage or disengage specific aspects of empathy, depending on participants’ situation and requirements.
  • A clear understanding of emotion work and its effect on empathy, communication, productivity, and health outcomes.
  • Empathic process-improvement methods to enhance communication, education, and collaboration.
  • Practical skills to cultivate and support an emotionally well-regulated workplace.

The Healthy Empathy program is taught onsite to the entire healthcare team so that the workplace culture can support and reinforce sustainable empathy practices. This program is also presented in continuing education workshops and through extended consultations. Contact us to learn more.

Healthy Empathy Professionals

Photo of Karla McLaren, a smiling middle-aged caucasian woman with wavy brown hair, green eyes, and glasses.
Photo by Michael Leras

Karla McLaren, M.Ed.

Karla McLaren is an award-winning author, social science researcher, and empathy pioneer. Her lifelong work focuses on her grand unified theory of emotions, which revalues even the most “negative” emotions and opens startling new pathways into self-awareness, effective communication, and healthy empathy. She is the founder and CEO of Emotion Dynamics LLC and the co-creator of the Healthy Empathy® training program for health and healing professionals.

Karla also developed the groundbreaking Six Essential Aspects of Empathy model that makes all of the processes in empathy easily understandable, accessible, and attainable. This fully realized model teaches people how to access, develop, and manage their empathy intentionally.

Karla is the author of The Art of Empathy: A Complete Guide to Life’s Most Essential Skill (2013), The Language of Emotions: What Your Feelings are Trying to Tell You (2010), and the multi-media online course Emotional Flow: Becoming Fluent in the Language of Emotions (2012). She is also a Certified Human Resources Administrator and a Certified Career Testing and Guidance Facilitator. Her interests include occupational sociology, linguistic anthropology, neurodiversity, and disability rights.

Photo of Tino Plank, a smiling, middle-aged caucasian man with a short beard, a balding head, green eyes, and glasses.
Photo by Tia Gavin

Tino Plank, MA, MSN, RN

Tino Plank has advanced degrees in nursing and multicultural spirituality, as well as an extensive background in program development and process improvement.

Tino is a former nursing faculty member at the University of San Francisco where he was at the forefront of integrating healthcare innovation into practice.

Tino currently works as a nurse educator in end-of-life care, and previously as a hospice grief counselor. In those roles, he has witnessed both the beauty and the down-side of empathy: Empathy can empower caring interactions, yet if it isn’t healthy and intentional, it can contribute to professional burnout.

For over twenty years, Tino has worked with Karla McLaren to develop the Dynamic Emotional Integration® process. He has also been an instructor in classroom and on-line environments for over ten years, and he is the co-creator of the Healthy Empathy® training program for health and healing professionals.

Healthy Empathy® Programs

Healthy Empathy Continuing Education Workshops

Healthy Empathy workshops provide targeted self-care and awareness processes to health and healing professionals. These processes support healthy, intentional, and sustainable empathy in the workplace. Participants will explore the Six Essential Aspects of Empathy model so that they can make decisions about how, when, and where to apply empathy in each situation. They’ll also learn emotional awareness skills, simple self-care practices, and empathic communication techniques to improve their quality of care and their quality of life. Continuing Education Credits are provided to Nurses, Psychologists, Counselors, MFTs, Chemical Dependency Counselors, and Educators.

Healthy Empathy Onsite Assessment and Consulting

This onsite evaluation focuses on the specific emotion-work and empathy-work requirements currently at play in your practice or organization. In this consultation process, the Healthy Empathy team will explore the distinct emotional requirements in different departments and organizational levels, and assess the amount of direct support that is available for emotion workers and empathy professionals (regardless of their titles or their job descriptions). This evaluation includes a detailed report of the team’s findings, and focused suggestions based upon the unique needs of your team members, your organization, and your mission.

Ongoing Healthy Empathy Consulting

Developing an understanding of the empathy and emotion work requirements in your healthcare practice or workplace is a wonderful first step. However, knowing what to do about these requirements may require further support. Ongoing Healthy Empathy consulting is available for individuals, care teams, and organizations that want to build and sustain healthy and emotionally well-regulated workplaces.