Empathy as element of care of self and others is topic of public address
At the opening convocation of the spring semester of the 151st academic year, the Louisville Seminary community and public will gather in Caldwell Chapel on February 19 for an address by Dr. Carol J. Cook on the importance of pastoral care for self and others through an understanding of “empathy.”
In her address, Empathy: A Bridge Between Worlds, A Landscape of Care, Cook will reference two familiar stories from the Bible: the Old Testament story about Solomon whose empathetic wisdom in the case of two quarrelling women spared the life of a newborn and reunited the child with the true mother, and an account from the Gospel of Luke, in which Jesus is moved by compassion to raise to life the son of the widow of Nain (1 Kings 3:16-28; Luke 7:11-17). The texts will take on deeper meaning as Cook, assistant professor of pastoral care and counseling, explores some of the psychological dimensions and theological implications of empathy, “a quality long seen as central to the ministry of care and counseling,” she says.
“I want us to consider how empathy develops and can be cultivated, what makes it so challenging and so necessary in our life today. Empathy understood as a compassionate bridge between the worlds of our own pain and the suffering of others, leads us into a landscape of care,” said Cook.
Cook has devoted much of her writing and research to issues in psycho-social human development and the way they intersect with growth in faith. This area of teaching has complimented the Seminary’s Marriage and Family Therapy program since she joined the faculty in 2000. Her other teaching interests include the integration of psychology and theology, exploration of gender issues in church and society, and utilizing literature and the arts in theological education.
She is a marriage and family therapist and licensed clinical social worker, and a certified pastoral counselor. While her clinical experience is broad based, Cook has a special interest in the challenges that adults face as they differentiate from and maintain relationships to their families of origin.
She serves on the board of editors of Perspectives: A Journal of Reformed Thought, is a fellow in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors (AAPC), and a clinical member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (AAMFT). She is a graduate of Hope College (B.A.); Michigan State University (M.A.); Princeton Theological Seminary (M.Div. and Ph.D.); and Rutgers University (M.S.W.).
She has written Singing a New Song: Relationality as a Context for Identity Development, Growth in Faith, and Christian Education (her dissertation) and is the author of “Charisma and Personal Abuse” in Perspectives (August/September, 1998); “Bruegel, the Bible, and Christian Education” in Reformed Review (Spring, 1995), and a forthcoming article, “Growing in Faith through the Life Cycle: A Literature Review,” in the journal Family Ministry: Empowering Through Faith (Spring, 2004).
The spring convocation will be held in the Frank H. and Fannie W. Caldwell Chapel at Louisville Seminary on Feb. 19 at 10:00 a.m. The event is open to the public without charge.