S o far, the most-studied effort to train people in emotional skills is the drive to impart empathy to doctors. Over the past decade, medical schools and hospitals have taken note of a broad body of literature showing that when doctors can put themselves in their patients’ shoes, it leads to better clinical outcomes, more satisfied patients, and fewer burnt-out physicians. And there’s evidence this skill can be taught. A 2014 review found that communication training and role-playing boosted medical students’ and doctors’ empathy levels in eight of 10 high-quality studies.
Teachers or counselors can reinforce taught concepts in spontaneously arising situations (Knaus, 1974, 1977a, 1977b, 2004; Knaus & Haberstroh 1993). For example, asking a student to use a coping skill in a problem situation, when the student does not know the skill, is generally impractical. On the other hand, once the student has learned and practiced an REE concept, promptinga student to use a tested coping strategy, can prove productive. This application prompting method shows students that they truly do have choices in how they respond to problem situations, and can experience a sense of reward from applying a new REE taught skill.