Helen Riess

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Helen Riess: Seven Keys to Increase Empathy

Dr. Helen Riess is an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the director of the Empathy and Relational Science Program at Massachusetts General Hospital. With Sounds True, she has published The Empathy Effect: Seven Neuroscience-Based Keys for Transforming the Way We Live, Love, Work, and Connect Across Differences. In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Tami Simon speaks with Helen about the development of the E.M.P.A.T.H.Y. program—a method for teaching and promoting empathy that draws on neuroscience and physiology. They talk about how Helen became interested in the science of empathy and why recent research into the subject has yielded such positive results. Helen walks listeners through each step of the E.M.P.A.T.H.Y. process, highlighting the benefits of more actively attending to every social interaction. Finally, Helen and Tami discuss the active training of empathy in education, business, and the medical community, emphasizing why these skills are necessary for the survival of human civilization. (64 minutes)

Tami’s Takeaway: A very simple technique that Dr. Helen Riess teaches for establishing empathic connection with people is to mentally note the eye color of the person when you first meet. This is a technique that she teaches to doctors and medical practitioners who are often moving quickly in a task-oriented way, not pausing to make genuine contact with the people they are serving. (Sound familiar, anyone?) My takeaway is to employ this technique in the office at Sounds True with the 130 people who work here. The early reports indicate that these experiments in noting eye color (even during hallway conversations and in meetings) have quickly created a sense of real connection—moments that I cherish.

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Trauma Recovery and Post-Traumatic Growth

Dr. Arielle Schwartz is a clinical psychologist, author, teacher, and widely sought-out voice in the healing of trauma and complex trauma. She offers workshops for therapists on EMDR and somatic therapy, and maintains a private practice in Boulder, Colorado. She has written a book called The Post-Traumatic Growth Guidebook, and with Sounds True, has created a new audio teaching series called Trauma Recovery, A Mind-Body Approach to Becoming Whole. In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Tami Simon speaks with Arielle about reframing the narrative of trauma recovery to one of growth and meaning-making, rather than an effort to regain something we’ve lost. Arielle offers a look into different types of trauma, and explores how the body shapes itself around these wounds. She shares strategies for adapting to adversity and attending to trauma in ways that help victims return to a felt sense of safety within themselves. Finally, Tami and Arielle discuss how we can embrace the hero or heroine’s journey in our own lives as we grow from trauma.

Compassion as a Superpower

Michelle Maldonado is founder and CEO of Lucenscia, a firm dedicated to human flourishing and mindful business transformation. She is a graduate of Barnard College at Columbia University and The George Washington University Law School, as well as an internationally certified mindfulness teacher and founding faculty for Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification Program. With Sounds True, she’s on the faculty of our Inner MBA program. In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Tami Simon talks to Michelle about how a brush with mindfulness at a very young age instilled her with a sense of presence that has guided her personal and professional path. They discuss why nurturing authentic connection and deep, intuitive care in the workplace leads to better human and organizational outcomes, and some of the challenges businesses face in making sustained change. She explains how unconscious bias seeps into our perceptions “like melted butter into nooks and crannies” and offers insights for addressing bias from a place of healing. They also discuss treating others as “human beings rather than human doings,” the journey of discovering our own power, embracing “compassion projects” as a means of public service and emotional release, and how we can best bring our care and attention to matters that affect us all.

No Bad Parts

Richard “Dick” Schwartz earned his PhD in marriage and family therapy from Purdue University. He coauthored the most widely used family therapy text in the United States, Family Therapy: Concepts and Methods, and is the creator of the Internal Family Systems Model, which he developed in response to clients’ descriptions of various “parts” within themselves. With Sounds True, Dick has written a new book titled No Bad Parts: Healing Trauma and Restoring Wholeness with the Internal Family Systems Model. In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Tami Simon talks to Dick about the transformation that occurs when we welcome every part of who we are. He explains that even our most destructive parts have protective intentions, put in place to shield us from unprocessed pain, and details his method for accessing and mending these inner wounds. They also discuss the myth of the “mono mind,” and why the mind is naturally multiple; how “exiled” trauma can manifest as bodily pain; connecting with our core Self and letting it lead us in our healing; and how the language of “parts” can be useful in our relationship dynamics.

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