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Transcript of Empathy Workshops
Leeanna Mantica, MS
Outline of Workshops
To develop a series of art therapy based workshops to foster empathy for individuals with disabilities
Levels of Empathy & Levels of Discomfort
Test Empathy Workshops Test
-Small sample; not generalizable
-Not able to randomize
-Inadequate coverage of
-Participants' prior experiences
(Decety, 2012 & Young, 2012)
Initial Hypotheses were not met:
1. Empathy level of participants would increase
as measured by the EQ scale
2. Discomfort level towards individuals with
disabilities would decrease as measured by the IDP scale
Bar Graph of results from EQ Scale
p value =1
Bar Graph of results from IDP Scale
Scatter plot indicating weak negative relationship between change on the IDP scale and change on the EQ scale, with ρp=.54
Inverse Relationship Hypothesis Supported:
-The higher a participant's empathy score, the lower their discomfort with disabilities
-Especially true for post-test data
Scatter plot indicating a stronger negative relationship between IDP and EQ pre-test scores
Scatter plot indicating a very strong negative relationship between test results on the IDP and EQ post-test scores
Responses & Observations
Mental Disabilities Workshop Observations
-Received full set of instructions
-Received pre-cut 6" x 6" square papers
Pictures did not align with words
-Received partial set of instructions
-Received multiple sheets of paper
Did not contain any pictures
Wording exclusive to origami
-Paper not pre-cut into squares
-Group member(s) with experience in origami
-Received no instructions, other than verbal:
"Make an origami box"
-Received only one sheet of paper
-Paper was not pre-cut into even squares
Paraplegia, Quadriplegia, Cerebral Palsy, Blindness, Deafness/Hard of Hearing
ADHD Learning Disability
(Mild, Moderate, Severe)
- Completed "Disability" Art Directive
"Using the art materials provided, visually describe what you think of when you hear the word 'disability'"
"What main things came to mind before you created your art piece?"
"Looking at it now, does anything different emerge?"
"Did the materials you chose reflect your thoughts?"
- Envision "The Good Life"
- Split into pairs, assigned disabilities
-Depicted one another's visions of "The Good Life"
What did you think when you received your “disability?”
What was it like to adopt it?
Describe the art making experience.
How would your definition of “the good life” change if you had this “disability?”
What about other disabilities?
- Homework: Complete Web-based simulation for ADHD
- Discussed experiences in class
-Split into three distinct "groups" based on level of MR
-Complete art directive: Origami Box
- Debriefing of experience
How can I enable the student to make art?
What are ways in which they can independently engage?
Problem to be Investigated
What exactly is "empathy?"
-Lack of empathy for disabled populations
-Currently, research which seeks to increase empathy for individuals with disabilities is scarce
-Question of how to best foster empathy remains unanswered
Following completion of The Empathy Workshops:
-Empathy would increase, as measured by the Empathy Quotient (EQ) Scale (Lawrence et al., 2004)
-Discomfort would decrease, as measured by the Interactions with Disabled Persons (IDP) Scale (Gething, et al. 1997)
-Negative relationship would exist between the two variables
-IDEA passed; allowed for greater diversity of students to be accommodated
-Led to need for qualified professionals (Brown-Treadon, 2005)
-Many educators not adequately trained (US Dept. of Ed., 2001)
-Likelihood of significant learning is increased when teachers show empathy (Rogers & Freiberg, 1994)
-Classrooms are harmonious and relaxed (Adalsteindottir, 2004)
-Children may be more sensitive to empathetic interactions, since communicative skills are still developing
(Thompson & Rudolph, 1992)
How does one foster it?
Infants instinctually respond
(Decety & Michalska, 2012)
-Ability to recognize emotional expression
-Patterns of past emotional expression
(Lofaro & James, 1980; Yaniv, 2011)
(McGarry & Russo, 2011; Yaniv, 2011)
(Beattie et al., 1997; Brown-Treadon, 2005; Gething, 1993)
Support for Research
-Current study aligned with previous literature
-Art Therapy provided cross-comparison
-Experiences led to deeper understanding
Suggestions for Future
-Incorporate autism, other disabilities
-Workshop leader with different abilities
-Schools, businesses, medical settings
-Adapted to meet needs of consumers
-Needed in rapidly diversifying world
-8 Pre-Service Art Educators
-Nearing completion of program
-Fully informed, consenting
-Incorporated into curriculum
-2 hour time frame per workshop
-Discussion, Questions, "Disability" art directive, Scales
“This piece is about the hope for people with any disability. It’s not about being restrained by it and looking forward. Disabilities and the ability to help those who have them revolves around the stigmas and our empathy.”
"For this piece I used different patterns in different sizes to show different disabilities and their severity. I used squares to show that they all have special needs, and the string winds them in their need for special care and adaptations. The features show individuality, creativity and optimism for my understanding of students with disabilities."
"We are all different. Just different in different ways. Still function, just in different ways. Represented by squares in colored squares, diamonds in diamonds, different colors. Similarities too. Cut or not cut represents disabilities, but blend in with so many other differences it shouldn’t really matter. Relates to race, disability, sexuality, religion, any difference or similarity you can think of."
“I have a better understanding now—having a disability doesn’t seem so cold and sterile. Sometimes really chaotic, unconventional things can be really beautiful.”
"The activity we did with the origami and the varying levels of MR was very helpful in opening my eyes. I wasn’t sure how you were going to make me feel like I had a mental disability. It showed me that there are different levels and you can’t treat everyone the same."
“I think that going through the experiences made me more empathetic toward what a disabled individual actually goes through. It helped me to feel more than I already had before.”
“The last part about adaptations so that we can learn tricks to help all types of students work with art.”
“Very, very useful as a future art teacher! I had no idea about how instructors can alter art materials to better accommodate students,”
"I have never been in a situation where I’ve had to think of others with disabilities and how I, myself, would adapt lessons or my techniques to them. With this session I am more alert/aware of how common it may be for me to address a lesson- this will especially help me with my upcoming ‘lesson modification…’."
One participant stated, “I would say I was ignorant in my teaching approaches before because I only thought/taught what I knew,” while another wrote, “…It’s also opened my mind to dealing with disabled people.”
How do you think you will use this in the future?
What did you find most helpful?