Our efforts as CASAs will be null and void if not tempered with empathy. Empathy affects our connections on so many levels. First and foremost, empathy is needed to connect with the children we represent. Empathy does not fix the problem; empathy feels a connection to the problem. Empathy is an action of vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experiences of our little people…walking in their shoes.
Secondly, demonstrating empathy towards the immediate family, extended family, and other key players in the child’s life may not be so easy. Although not our primary focus, that connection with those attached to the child aids us in seeing the whole story. Expressing empathy may mean acknowledging that it is not going to be okay and walking with them in those shoes.
Thirdly, an intriguing twist to empathy in our CASA duties is being empathetic towards the other professionals that we rub shoulders with throughout our cases. If we put ourselves in the shoes of the social workers, Guardians ad litem, attorneys, judges, etc., we will be enabled to work more collaboratively. Realizing the loads they carry and the rules they must play by will aid us in tempering our actions and speech.
Empathy means I step out of my own emotions, agendas, and biases and step into another’s perspective and understanding. Empathy. A characteristic that will make us better CASAs and greater human beings.