Location: Indiana, United States

I became a Professor Emeritus after serving 29 years as a recreational therapy faculty member at Indiana University. I'm a long-time Hoosier, having grown up in Hanover, Indiana. My RT practitioner work was in psych/mental health. After completing my Ph.D. at the University of Illinois, my first faculty position was at the University of North Texas. RT has been a wonderful profession for me as I have had the opportunity to serve as an author and national leader.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Students Lack Empathy

In today's USA Today newspaper there is an article reporting on research that shows today's college students show less empathy than students in the 1980s and 1990s. While the reseach did not disclose why this decline exists, it was suggested that perhaps it was due to fewer face-to-face contacts with others, because of students spending time with social networking, such as Facebook, rather than with friends.

Reading the article made me think about three things: (1) Are fewer students going into RT because they lack empathy for the problems of others? (2) Do today's RT students, like their peers, have less empathy for others? and (3) Do we need to spend more time in RT curricula on the concept of empathy?


Blogger 和辛和辛 said...


6:06 PM  
Blogger Danny Pettry said...

Hi there Dr. Austin,

Thanks for posting this blog.

Recently I had written a full chapter on empathy for my upcoming book on being a helper. Empathy was a key concept. So your blog entry was posted at an wonderful time.

I briefly recall my undergraduate advisor/ professor, Dr. Sandra Parker (Marshall University, Huntington, W.Va.) talking about empathy for the elderly during a course on leisure and the elderly. She had sited a study, which I regret to say that I can’t recall and couldn’t find after a google search. It was about college students not having empathy or concern for the elderly. Their first solution was to require or mandate students to spend time with the elderly at nursing homes as part of their curriculum. I believe the results had a backfire and that the students resented the elderly because they were required, but again, I can’t remember the source.

I had taken this course in the year 2000. The importance of this lesson or study was on the growing number of elderly “baby boomers.” Again, I can’t site sources, but I believe Dr. Parker had said that 1 in 3 healthcare employees would one day work with the elderly due to the rapid growth of this age-group.

I majored in Therapeutic Recreation thinking that I was going to work in physical rehab with adults and the elderly after I graduated. I did most of my internship and training working with adults and elderly, too.

My first job offer was working with children and adolescents at a psychiatric hospital. I took the job and have been working there for 8 years now. I have been very pleased working with children. I feel content working with this group and don’t plan to change careers anytime soon.

but I feel I’d still be able to work with elderly and adults, too. I feel that I’m now more skilled and prepared for providing services for children and in behavioral health because my experience and additional on-the-job trainings for this population.

I think it is good for a recreational therapist to maintain basic competencies for working with all ages. Although I am going to purse the additional specialty certification in behavioral health through NCTRC, I still feel that I could work in rehab or skilled nursing.

your friend,

10:20 PM  
Blogger Jeffre鳳珠yM_Mc鳳珠glo said...

your son/daughter is so cute............................................................

10:58 PM  
Blogger 趙佳治 said...


2:35 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home