Kyokan is a Japanese word that translates to "feel-one". Because I have a love for so many things Japanese, when I was looking for a business name that conveyed my focus on communicating "empathy' as a foundation for promoting healing, growth and loving connection, I began by looking for Japanese words that mean "empathic" or "empathetic". Kyokan was the word that came up.
It's a bit of an obscure term and my computer's spell checker (and google) both want to replace it with "ryokan", a traditional Japanese inn, every time I type the word. The most prominent use of "kyokan" was the "kyokan method" proposed by Masao Kawai, a Japanese primatologist. In his book, 'Life of Japanese Monkeys" (1969), Kawai proposed that primatology researchers needed to cultivate feelings of mutual relationship and attachment for their subjects. Through shared experiences and a willingness to cultivate a deep connection, a true sense of knowing the 'other' develops. This method seems much like qualitative field research in the social sciences. The social science researcher becomes immersed in the real worlds of their subjects and develops a deep understanding for the truth of their experience, from their subject's perspective, validating the experience of how that perspective might have been created or adopted, without judgement, whether or not you personally agree with it or approve of it for your life. In this way, "kyokan" meets my needs.
In all "helper" relationships (between parents and children, teachers and students, and therapists and clients of any age) the first step to being able to "help" is developing a genuine understanding and respect for the experience, perspective and uniqueness of the other in order to create the necessary relational foundation for guiding, partnering and nurturing healing or growth. Research shows that the quality of the helper relationship is the most significant determining factor in whether or not the child, student or client experiences "success", however that is defined in each context. Simply put, the quality of the relationship has more of an impact on the growth and development of the "other" than any other factor.
Ofcourse, that means, as a "helper", the responsibility for cultivating and maintaining a healthy, empathic ("kyokan") relationship begins with YOU. More on that next week!