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The case for mindfulness-based approaches in the cultivation of empathy: Does nonjudgmental, present-moment awareness increase capacity for perspective-taking and empathic concern?


  • Jennifer Block-Lerner, PhD, La Salle University; Carrie Adair, BA, Skidmore College; Jennifer C. Plumb, BS, University of Nevada–Reno; Deborah L. Rhatigan, PhD, University of Tennessee–Knoxville; Susan M. Orsillo, PhD, Suffolk University.

Address correspondence to Jennifer Block-Lerner, Department of Psychology, La Salle University, 1900 West Olney Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19141; E-mail:


Empathic responding, most notably perspective-taking and empathic concern, has important implications for interpersonal functioning. While empathy training approaches have received some support for a variety of populations, few extant interventions have targeted empathic responding in couples. Mindfulness- and acceptance-based behavioral approaches, for couples as a unit and/or for individual family members/partners, are proposed as an adjunct to empathy training interventions. Preliminary findings suggest that the viability of these interventions for increasing empathic responding should be further investigated, and specific suggestions for this line of research are offered.