Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Improving Empathy and Communication Skills of Visually Impaired Early Adolescents through a Psycho-Education Program*

Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Improving Empathy and Communication Skills of Visually Impaired Early Adolescents through a Psycho-Education Program*

Article excerpt

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of an interpersonal communication skills psycho-education program to improve empathy and communication skills of visually impaired adolescents. Participants of the study were sixteen early adolescents schooling in an elementary school for visually impaired youth in Diyarbakir. The study has a factorial design having two groups (treatment and control] and three measures (pre-test, post-test and follow-up test). Empathy levels of the participants were measured by Κ?-Si Empathie Tendency Scale for Children and Adolescents, and communication skills were measured by Communication Skills Evaluation Scale. While the participants in treatment group were exposed to interpersonal communication skills training for nine sessions, members of the control group did not receive any treatment. After the completion of group sessions, post-test measures were obtained. Data were analysed by mixed between-within subjects analysis of variance. Analysis indicated effectiveness of the psycho-education program in increasing empathy levels and communication skills of the visually impaired adolescents.

Key Words

Visually Impaired Adolescents, Interpersonal Communication Skills, Empathy, Psycho-education Group.

There is a universally strong will to get into interaction with others in human beings. Social interaction is the basic ingredient that supports social environment and maintains it (Hargie, 2011). Communication meets one of fundamental psychological needs of human being; a need for interaction (Kaya, 2010). As a social being, human beings have a need to live with others, and building effective communication is a prerequisite for living together with others. Yet, it is also inevitable to display socially accepted behaviours in a society to live with others (Tagay, Baydan, & Voltan-Acar, 2010).

Interpersonal communication can be defined as a psycho-social process in which at least two individuals reciprocally disclose information, emotions, thoughts and experiences they have by specific means (Kaya, 2010). All interpersonal relationships and interpersonal problems happen to be through interpersonal communication. While healthy interpersonal communication results in deeper, meaningful and satisfying relationships, unhealthy interpersonal communication patterns result in wide range of personal and interpersonal problems (Korkut, 1996). Thus, it is paramount to learn and teach the strategies of effective interpersonal communication, because individuals who can establish effective, healthy and satisfying relationships get more satisfaction from life as well as themselves (Korkut, 2000).

One of the motivations in interpersonal relationships is to be understood by others regarding ones experiences, emotions and thoughts. Empathy can be defined as an ability to understand the other person is a paramount aspect in interpersonal relationships. Thus, empathy as a term is one of the essentials in interpersonal relationship and communication (Kaya & Siyez, 2010). According to Rogers (1975) there are some elements of having empathy toward someone. It means to get into one s inner world and be there in a deeper level. This can be accomplished by being very sensitive to ones changing emotions, be it fear, anger or confusion moment by moment. Patterson (1973) defined empathy as perceiving ones reference of perceptual framework, his/her emotional aspects and their meanings in an as if condition (cited in Akkoyun, 1982). Empathy is considered as an ability and a tendency (Kaya & Siyez, 2010). It is multidimensional (Davis, 1983), and has two components; emotional and cognitive. While the cognitive component is about understanding other persons thoughts by getting into his/her role, the emotional component is about understanding his/ her emotions as much as they are felt by the other person (Dökmen, 2005). Blair (2005) added a third component; motor empathy described as mirroring the motor responses of the other person. …

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