Walk in/Walk As My Shoes: Puppetry and Prosocial Empathy in Healthcare

Astles, Cariad (2020) Walk in/Walk As My Shoes: Puppetry and Prosocial Empathy in Healthcare. Journal of Applied Arts and Health, 11 (1 & 2). pp. 29-47. ISSN 2040-2457


This article explores the connections between puppetry performance practice and the activation of empathy, considering the synergies between puppetry and medical practice where empathy is a key factor in healing. I draw on a consideration of the place of puppetry within ritual transitional and healing practices to develop an examination of contemporary modes of performance which require deep listening, response and attention. I examine the connections between neuroscience and puppetry which suggest that attitude-taking engenders empathy, and compare this to my puppetry training practice to suggest that training for and engaging in puppetry practice can encourage and stimulate empathy. This has significance for practitioners of puppetry working in healthcare contexts, and for medical practitioners who undertake some form of puppetry, either within their training or as continuing professional development. Although the different forms of empathy are connected in practice, the article focuses especially on affective (emotional), cognitive and social empathy.


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