Professional Distance and Empathy: Free Guided Imagery Script

This guided imagery script will help you to envision maintaining both professional distance and empathy. It can be challenging to keep appropriate boundaries in work settings because while you want to offer empathy and understanding, it is necessary to be professional and maintain some distance as well.

Fortunately, it is possible to do both at the same time. You can keep professional distance and empathy simultaneously.

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Let's begin with relaxation. Once your thinking is calm and clear, you can consider what it means to have professional distance and empathy, and envision ways of applying these concepts of professional distance and empathy to your everyday life.

Get into a comfortable position, and sit quietly for a moment. Just be still...and as you rest here you may notice your body settling in...and getting comfortable.

Observe your body for the next few moments, without trying to do anything at all. Just observe, noticing how your body feels.

(Pause)

Notice the minute changes that occur as your muscles gradually let go of tension. Without any effort at all, the tension slowly disappears...releasing...relaxing...

Feel the tiny movements your muscles make as they relax and let go.

You may feel your shoulders get slightly lower as your neck and shoulder muscles relax.

You may feel your back gently settling into a comfortable s-curve, your spine assuming its natural position.

You might feel little bits of tension leaving...perhaps from your back...or your neck...your arms...your hands...

You may feel slight movements in your legs and feet as your lower body relaxes.

Your body might even start to feel heavy. It may feel like you are getting heavier and heavier with relaxation.

Just notice the natural changes in your body position as muscles relax and you become filled with relaxation and comfort.

(Pause)

Over the next few minutes, your body can continue to relax more and more as you become comfortable and calm. Relaxation is such a nice, pleasant feeling.

(Pause)

Now that you are starting to relax, think about professional distance and empathy.

Begin by thinking about the concept of empathy. Consider what it means to have empathy for others. Empathy means that you can express understanding of what the person is going through and comprehend how the person has told you he or she is feeling.

Now think about professional boundaries. Professional boundaries are the limits and expectations you maintain in a professional relationship. Professional boundaries are different than personal ones, and a professional relationship has different roles and expectations than a personal relationship. Consider what appropriate, effective boundaries look like in a professional setting for you.

Think about the expectations for the type of professional boundaries you are required to maintain. What do you do with clients? What conversations do you have?

Now consider how professional distance and empathy can exist at the same time. It is possible to care and still not take your work home with you. You can show empathy, caring, and understanding while still being professional.

It is important to create a mental separation between your professional interactions and your personal life. You can show caring and empathy, and then separate yourself from the situation so you do not become stressed and upset in your own life.

Create an image in your mind now, of you being professional. See the professional role, with effective boundaries, but also with compassion, caring, and understanding. Picture yourself interacting with clients and colleagues with compassion while keeping the professional distance that is necessary to be effective in your role.

(Pause)

Accurate, healthy beliefs will help you maintain professional distance and empathy at the same time. The following affirmations will help you to incorporate these healthy beliefs. You can listen to these statements and reflect on them, and you may want to repeat each phrase silently in your mind.

You cannot own someone else's problems.

Other people's issues are their own.

Remember that other people's problems do not belong to you.

You show respect for others by not taking on their problems.

Empathy is to show compassion for the struggles others might be going through.

Your role is to offer support but not to fix.

Other people's problems are not yours to fix.

All of us only have the right to fix our own problems, not someone else's.

Your role is not to take on another's issues yourself as something you have to fix.

You can offer tools and support to give people the opportunity to fix their own problems.

You are not being helpful if you are offering solutions.

You are not able to help someone if you take on their problems.

You can help others identify their strengths.

You can encourage people to use their strengths to problem solve.

You can help people focus on positives and foster their self-esteem.

You can show real compassion by understanding while remaining neutral.

You are not responsible for anyone else's problems.

You are the most effective in your professional role when you are neutral and you take care of yourself.

It is okay to stop thinking about clients when you leave work; in fact, it is essential.

You do not have to feel a client's emotions to empathize.

You are less effective in your role if you feel all the same emotions as your client.

You can be neutral and still understand and offer support.

Relax now as you contemplate these affirmations, and let the ideas become part of your consciousness.

(Pause)

As you face the days ahead, you can recall these important affirmations about professional distance and empathy, and you can live by the helpful words. You can maintain professional distance and empathy, easily, naturally, and at the same time.

You are professional and you are empathic. You allow both of these qualities to shine through in your work and your interactions with clients and colleagues.

(Pause)

Now you have completed this relaxation exercise.

It's time to reawaken your mind and body.

I will now count to 5. Become more alert and awake with each number, and when I reach 5 you will be completely awake, alert, and energetic, ready to face the hours ahead with clarity, calm, professional distance and empathy.

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