1. Doran, Karen A. MSN, RN, CCNS

Article Content

Timothy Dawes. Bellevue: Interplay Press LLC, 2006. $21.97. ISBN 0-9788247-0-9. 172 pp.


Healing From the Heart provides practical instructions to help caregivers strengthen patient and family communication by using honesty, clarity, and connection. The author introduces the use of "active empathy" as a way to help caregivers make their compassion more visible to the patient and his or her family.


The author adapted the ALIVE model of active empathy from the work of Marshall Rosenberg and the Center for Nonviolent Communication. The 5 steps of the ALIVE model of empathy include the following: (1) assess your rapport; (2) listen for a call for help; (3) intend to connect; (4) verify what is alive; and (5) encourage a request that enriches life. The author uses accounts of coaching and mentoring to illustrate practice experiences. Scenarios are followed by questions for consideration. Sample responses are provided to demonstrate possible answers.


The book is organized into 3 sections. Section 1 defines empathy and introduces the ALIVE model. Section 2 describes communication techniques that demonstrate ways to listen with empathy. Important concepts are discussed, which include (1) clarifying observations, (2) listening for patient's feelings, (3) identifying the needs at the root of a patient's experience, and (4) encouraging requests that enrich life. The third section, "Taking a Compassionate Stand," reveals the importance of making clear observations, expressing honestly, and encouraging requests that enrich life.


This very practical workbook was written after teaching and coaching hundreds of caregivers to improve empathetic communication in a very complex work environment. It provides valuable exercises to help bring empathy skills visible to patients and families, which can increase patient and nursing satisfaction. This book was named an award-winning finalist in the general medical category of the Best Books 2006 Book Awards. This workbook is an excellent supplement to other effective communication resources to strengthen interpersonal communication skills. Nurses and others who are interested in improving empathetic communication abilities can benefit from actively participating in the scenarios provided in this book. Through answering the questions posed, the reader can gain the skills to communicate in difficult and challenging situations. I recommend this excellent book to all healthcare professionals, from novice to expert, to strengthen skills in listening and communicating with empathy and review ways to take a compassionate stand.