This is a way of turning all our attention to the other person to try to understand their experience from their perspective; it is often described as standing in someone else’s shoes. We need to suspend (as best we can) our own experience and sit alongside the individual without losing a sense of ourselves. Empathy is often experienced as soothing as it evokes a sense of being really understood and supports the person to reflect on their situation.

Empathy often gets confused with sympathy, which is quite different.

Empathy Sympathy
Feeling with the person Feeling for the person
Placing oneself in their position Acknowledging the other person is struggling but maintaining a distance from it
More specific and personal More general feeling, for example sad, pity