This article argues that therapist empathy is both an essential context and an active intervention for addressing the emotion regulation problems common among adult survivors of child abuse. We define healthy emotion regulation, the role of parental empathy in the development of these capacities, and the results of abuse and neglect as empathic failures. We define therapeutic empathy and outline how it functions both to modulate arousal and to increase client awareness of emotional experience, thus facilitating emotional processing of trauma memories.
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