Center for Building a Culture of Empathy

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Culture of Empathy Builder:  Richard (Rick) Bowers and Nelle Moffett

Empathy in Conflict Intervention
Richard Bowers and Nelle Moffett interviewed by Edwin Rutsch

Richard Bowers introduces himself by saying,  In addition to my private practice, I am a guest lecturer at Antioch University Midwest's Integral Studies in Conflict & Leadership program, I serve as a Ventura County Small Claims Court mediation supervisor through the Ventura Center for Dispute Settlement, and I mediate cases through the Los Angeles and Ventura County Superior Courts. My private practice, working with Nelle Moffett, involves workshops, practice groups, and working with individuals and couples focusing on communication and conflict coaching.

Nelle and I co-authored Empathy in Conflict Intervention: The Key to Successful NVC Mediation. This book brings together theories from psychology, conflict resolution, and sociology to explore the effectiveness of empathy in mediation.

From the book:
"What empathy provides for the mediator is a way to create an unbiased connection with each client without reverting to a cold aloofness that is sometimes taught in mediation training."

The Intervention of the Sabine Women - Jacques-Louis David (wikipedia)

"The impact of mediator empathy towards both parties may provide the support needed for successful mediation even when there is no ongoing relationship between the parties.  A better understanding of the power of empathy could lead to increased usage of empathy in mediation. This increased usage of empathy could increase perspective-taking by the parties within mediations, leading to increased connection, collaboration, or satisfaction with the mediation process for both mediators and disputants. "

Sub Conference: Justice







 The focus of this book is on mediation, a third party intervention role that can be undertaken by supervisors, managers, human resource professionals, marriage and family therapists, teachers, mediators, peace keepers, and parents.


 The authors make a strong case for the central role of empathy in promoting a successful mediation, especially when ongoing relationships between the parties are at stake. This book provides a thoughtful study of the important role of empathy in mediation through the development of a theoretical model to explain the effectiveness of Nonviolent Communication™ (NVC) mediation.


The theory building process used in this book, as well as the list of conditions for a successful mediation, can be broadly applied to other third party intervention methods.


Part 1: Setting the Stage

Chapter 1:  Introduction

  • Research Area of Interest
  • The Value of Researching Empathy
  • Purpose Statement
  • Organizational Tool
  • Significance of the Study for Particular Audiences
  • Definitions

Chapter 2:  Overview of the NVC Process

Chapter 3:  Preliminary Scan of Existing Research

Chapter 4:  Methodology

Chapter 5:  Conditions for Successful Mediation


Part 2: The Meta Model

Chapter 6:  Metamodel

Chapter 7:  Constructive-Developmentalism

Chapter 8:  Human Needs Theory

Chapter 9:  Empathy

  • Description of Empathy
  • Discussion of Empathy
  • Rogers 
    •  see's empathy as healing agent (therapeutic)
    • empathy helps the speaker see themselves better.
    • (creates space around any experience)
  • Kohut
    • see's empathy  as a way of knowing the inner world of another.
    • reluctantly sees empathy as healing agent

Chapter 10:  Altruism

Chapter 11:  Metamodel and Proposed Conditions


Part 3: Conclusions

Chapter 12:  Wrapping it Up