Henri Nouwen on Compassion

A couple of lovely quotations from Henri on this theme:-

“Let us not underestimate how hard it is to be compassionate. Compassion is hard because it requires the inner disposition to go with others to places where they are weak, vulnerable, lonely, and broken. But this is not our spontaneous response to suffering. What we desire most is to do away with suffering by fleeing from it or finding a quick cure for it.” 


“Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.” 

Henri Nouwen

Both feel important from the perspective of the person-centred therapist. A therapist, to offer relationship of value, needs a willingness to remain present with painful feeling. It is not our task – despite all the cultural imperatives – to support its suppression, medication and denial of oxygen. In its deepest and broadest potential, therapy involves both human beings in the room experiencing ‘full immersion in the condition of being human’.

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling in Exeter since 1994




This entry was posted in compassion, consciousness, core conditions, cultural questions, Disconnection, emotions, empathy, encounter, flow, grief, human condition, kindness & compassion, loneliness, loss, non-directive counselling, person centred, power and powerlessness, presence, relationship, sadness & pain, therapeutic relationship, vulnerability, working with clients and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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