Safe Space Radio broadcasts courageous stories to foster empathy and understanding in our listeners and in the culture as a whole.
Our shows are designed to foster a culture of empathy, understanding, and safety for those with mental health challenges, and combat all forms of stigma and silencing.
Research shows that storytelling is an effective method for teaching complex ideas, building trust, and forming connection (Soule and Wilson, 2002). A 2007 study by neuroscientist Paul J. Zak suggests that compelling stories can literally change brain function by triggering the release of neurochemicals like oxytocin, which increases empathy, compassion, and willingness to help others.
Empathy is our ability to share and understand another person’s feelings. The more empathy we feel, the more able we are to build connection and participate in community. Empathy pushes us to help others, and it helps us build compassion for ourselves and our own emotions.Psychologist Daniel Goleman and Paul Ekman talk about three kinds of empathy:
Cognitive empathy is the ability to imagine what another person is thinking—basically, the ability to imagine a perspective outside of our own and communicate using that knowledge.
Emotional empathy (or affective empathy) is the ability to share in the feelings of another person, sometimes literally feeling other people’s feelings in our own bodies.
Compassionate empathy takes empathy a step further and motivates us to do something. We not only feel for another person, but take action to help them.
Safe Space Radio & Empathy
Data from past listener surveys show that:
- 82% of listeners feel an increase in empathy after hearing a show from the Can We Talk series (2019)
- 92% of listeners agree that the show helped them identify with the storyteller’s feelings—Out-Takes (2016)
- 91% of listeners want to learn more about the subject—Out-Takes (2016)
- 83% of listeners felt inspired by the stories—Parenting a Child With Autism series (2014)
- 100% of listeners felt increased understanding of the challenges Native communities face—Maine-Wabanaki State Truth and Reconciliation Commission series (2015)
Safe Space Radio’s series of healthcare webinars is currently the subject of a research study on fostering empathy in medical students at Maine Medical Center.
Resources on Empathy
Empathy & Relationships
- How to Be More Empathetic
Claire Cain Miller—The New York Times
- The Evolution of Empathy
Frans De Waal—Greater Good
- Developing Empathy Lesson Plan
- The Limits of Empathy
Adam Waytz—Harvard Business Review
- In a Divided World, We Need to Choose Empathy
Jamil Zaki—Greater Good
Empathy & the Self
- How to Cultivate More Self Compassion
Allison Abrams—Psychology Today
- Exploring Compassion: a meta-analysis of the association between self-compassion and psychopathology
Angus MacBeth & Andrew Gumley—Clinical Psychology Review
The Science of Empathy
- The Science of Empathy
Helen Riess—Journal of Patient Experience
- The Neuroscience of Empathy
Christopher Bergland—Psychology Today
- The Oxford Handbook of Compassion Science
Ed. Emma M. Seppäla et al
- The Toronto Empathy Questionaire
R. Nathan Spreng et al—Journal of Personality Assessment
- Why Inspiring Stories Make Us React
Paul J. Zak—Cerebrum