Abstract

Seven core values are said to undergird the profession of occupational therapy, with empathy serving as a hallmark of one of those values – personal dignity. This inquiry explores the meaning of empathy within a practice that holds occupation at its center. The literature on empathy in both philosophy and the behavioral sciences yields cogent thoughts about the fullness of empathy and its characteristic actions. The Healing Heart, the biography of a pioneer therapist, Ora Ruggles, shows the manner in which occupational therapists can be empathic in their practice. These reflections and illustrations serve to sharpen the vision of occupational therapists as persons who reach for both the hands and the hearts of others.

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