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Courses open for VSPNer registration

STAF134-0110 : Empathy and Reflective Listening

Heather Howell, RVT, LVT, MBA

January 27- February 19, 2010
Real Time Sessions: Tuesday afternoons, February 2 and 9, 2010; 3pm-4:30pm ET (USA)

Do you feel stuck in your communication patterns when dealing with challenging conversations or conflicts? Do you ever feel as if you've had the same conversation with your spouse/parent/child/boss/client/coworker over and over, but nothing ever changes? These communication tools - empathy and reflective listening - could be just what you are looking for to change the outcome of your interactions. Participants will learn the difference between empathy and other communication tools such as sympathy, solving, consoling, or questioning. Empathy is a valuable communication tool for diffusing challenging interactions, particularly when the other person is very emotional or upset. Reflective listening tips are an essential tool for clarifying other's needs and diffusing emotional communications. Participants will learn about these techniques and have the opportunity to practice during real time sessions. This course is for everyone in the veterinary facility. If you communicate with others in your life, this course is for you.

This course consists of two (2) ninety minute real time sessions; library materials supplementing the chapters in the required text; interactive message board discussions; and multiple choice quizzes (after each real time session) designed to enhance course effectiveness and material retention. Heather Howell, RVT, LVT, MBA has taught numerous courses online for VSPN and has developed this course to help you better communicate with your peers and co-workers in- and outside the office. This course covers those essential skills needed to evaluate your communications and become more effective in your interactions.

Upon completion of this course, the participant should be able to

Goal of the course:
The goal of this course is to teach participants communication skills, which allow them to be intentional and effective during challenging or emotional communications. Participants will learn to use empathy and reflective listening skills during challenges, creating communication that meets both parties' needs.

TEXTBOOKS: There is one required text for this course; the instructor will include a list of recommended texts in the course library.


Week 1: Evaluating Your Communication Choices
Required reading: Nonviolent Communication-A Language of Compassion: Chapters 2, 3, 4 and 5
Content: This week we will consider your own communication style in times of stress or conflict. You will have the opportunity to learn about empathy and what it is not. We will discuss when empathy and reflective listening are most effective. You will also discover how to recognize your choices in response to others. You will learn how to clarify what you are observing, feeling, and needing. You will be taught how to recognize when you are making judgments and applying labels, which hamper communication. You will learn to listen for the other person's needs and requests.

Week 2:
Required reading: Nonviolent Communication-A Language of Compassion: Chapters 6, 7, 8 and 10
Content: During class this week, you will practice using empathy and reflective listening as the listener and as the speaker. We will look at what stops you from using these tools. We will consider conversations where these tools are most effective and learn how they shift the speaker's mindset. We will learn how to recognize your feelings, state your needs, and make specific requests. We will discuss receiving other's words as an opportunity. We will also explore finding a way to express our own needs that doesn't provoke defensiveness in others.

LIBRARY MATERIALS: Library materials will be made available prior to the topic week so participants will have plenty of time to prepare for the real time sessions and discussion.

MESSAGE BOARD DISCUSSIONS: Message board discussions regarding the topic presented will begin on the day the course opens and continue for one week following the last real time session. These discussions will be held in the VSPN CE course area.


$60 ($54.00 early bird special if registered before January 13, 2010).
*Students currently enrolled in and taking at least 2 classes or 5 units at an AVMA accredited or CAAHT approved Veterinary Technician Program may be eligible to receive a 50% discount off the regular rate for this course (upon verification of student status). You must include the following information in the comments section of the CE enrollment form in order to be eligible for this discount: your program director's name and contact information (email/phone) and school name.

** NOTE: Registration will be closed when the maximum number of participants is reached or at 5pm ET the day of the first real time session.

**For more on how online CE works see the VSPN Participant's Resource Center


  1. Each person must individually be a registered member of VSPN ( Membership in VSPN is free.
  2. To enroll in any VSPN CE course click on the ENROLL NOW link below the course title on the right side of the page at
  3. Each enrollee must be able to receive emails from and addresses. This is our major form of communication with participants. It is highly recommended that course participants use their own, personal emails rather than clinic/hospital email addresses.
  4. VIN Member veterinarians SHOULD NOT register for their staff. Please have the staff member register through VSPN. Please email if you have questions.
  5. VIN Member veterinarians ARE ELIGIBLE to take this course; this course is being submitted to RACE and VHMA approved for both veterinarians and veterinary technicians. **Please access the course enrollment through
Note: "This course has been submitted for approval for 6 continuing education credits in jurisdictions which recognize AAVSB RACE approval; however participants should be aware that some boards have limitations on the number of hours accepted in certain categories and/or restrictions on certain methods of delivery of continuing education. Call VSPN CE at 1-800-700-4636 for further information." (Attendees are encouraged to check with their licensing jurisdiction(s) for information regarding recognition by their board).
This course has also been submitted for approval for continual education units toward CVPM requirements through VHMA.
COURSE WITHDRAWAL AND REFUND POLICY: Withdrawal prior to the listed start date of a course entitles the registrant to a complete refund or a credit toward a future VSPN or VIN CE course, whichever is preferred. Withdrawal within 1 week after the listed start date (i.e. including no more than one real-time session) entitles the registrant to a credit toward any future VIN CE course. (Does not apply to courses with only one real-time session.) After the first real-time session, a registrant may withdraw due to special circumstances and receive prorated credit towards a future VIN course. These requests will be handled on an individual basis. The amount of the prorated credit will be determined based on 65% of the time remaining in the course at the time of withdrawal. It is not possible to withdraw retroactively.
Note: To ensure rapid handling of your request for withdrawal, we recommend that you call the VIN office at 1-800-700-INFO (4636).
** For More Information on VSPN's upcoming CE Courses, check out

VSPN CE Services:
1-800-846-0028 or 1-530-756-4881
Charlotte Waack (; ext 193
Chris Upchurch (; ext 197
Darci Palmer (; ext 179
Debbie Bess (; ext 178
Nanette Walker Smith (; ext 187


800.700.4636  |  |  530.756.4881  |  Fax: 530.756.6035
777 West Covell Blvd, Davis, CA 95616

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