Course Description

3-week Online Integrative Empathy for Design


Online Integrative Empathy for Design  – Empathy is explicitly advocated in Design Thinking and human-centred design. It is emphasized through doing research – interviewing and observing clients. What is lacking is how to do this in a specifically empathic way. To make the best use of your practice of empathy in design requires personal transformation from a focus on self to holding a space for self and others.

This interactive online Integrative Empathy for Design course will equip you with the skills to apply and deepen your empathy in design and to confidently facilitate others to do so. In live Online Classroom sessions combined with self-study and group practice, you will learn practical skills on how to apply empathy to design, while working on your own real challenges. During the course you will form teams around challenges identified by you and chosen by a jury. These challenges will help you to apply the skills relevant to your work context.  The course will be experiential, interactive and hands on and you will be given ample opportunity to practice your skills in the context of your design application. Our experienced facilitators will provide you with coaching and feedback.


You will be guided to enhance your empathy skills:

  • During all phases of the design process.
  • Applicable to design research.

To facilitate empathy with stakeholders and teams.
To develop facilitation skills specific to Empathy for Design

The Online Integrative Empathy for Design course will ensure you will come away with your own empathic skills as well as practical knowledge on how to facilitate empathy in stakeholders and teams. These skills are specific to five distinct and interconnected empathic aspects as depicted in visual below.

General facilitation skills

To take part in the process without being part of it, maintaining a view of the outcome of a meeting and guiding the process but refraining from directing it.

Skills specific to the Integrative Empathy

In Self-empathy you learn to be comfortable with the expression of emotions while maintaining neutral emotionality yourself.

In Kinesthetic empathy you learn observation skills and how to create group cohesion using physicality rather than thought.

In Reflective empathy you learn skills of empathic listening and how to help a group to create a container for self-expression of all its members.

In Imaginative empathy you learn skills to understand, acknowledge the value of and encourage diversity. This includes skills to suspend judgment and encourage others free from your own projections, values, norms and opinions.

In Empathic creativity you learn to discern significant learnings and moments to integrate into the design process.


This three-week course consists of six modules each with four components. Preparation, Online session, Group work and Reflection. The online session takes place on Zoom with a small group of 6 to 12 people.  We complete two modules per week with the online session for 2,5 hours twice a week , starting Tuesday 8 September, 10h30 to 13h00 (South African and Central European Time) In addition to the online session you will require a commitment of 2-4 hours per week to complete the preparation, group work and reflections.

To successfully complete the course you will need to attend each session and spend self-study time in preparation before, and reflection after each online session. You will also practice skills in work-context challenges with a small group.

Module 1 Introduction to Integrative Empathy for Design

We identify, pitch and choose challenges, form teams to work with in the coming weeks and introduce you to Integrative Empathy.

Module 2 Identify bias with Self-empathy

The self, if not acknowledged, gets in the way of innovative design. In this module we learn about, and practice skills for self-empathy. We also show how immersion as a method to understand your user is more useful when accompanied by self-empathy.

Module 3 Create rapport with Kinesthetic empathy

Here we practice embodiment and kinesthesia as resources to build rapport with users and  teams and to enhance your observation skills in user research.

Module 4 Reveal deeper needs with Reflective empathy

In this module we do a deep-dive into empathic listening and how to apply it in interviews and to transform tricky team dynamics.

Module 5 Diversify perspectives with imaginative empathy

This module applies imagination and ‘as-if’ acting to gain a deeper understanding of the perspectives of users, stakeholders and teams.

Module 6 Consolidate Empathic Creativity: Empathy maps and Personas and Customer Journey Maps

Empathic creativity identifies significant insights and change moments to be captured into sense-making tools. We will end this session with team presentations of their findings, ready to be translated in a prototype.


You are a Service Design, Design Thinking or human-centred designer and want to deepen your innovation with empathic capacities. This is not the first time you’ve heard about the importance of empathy in design but you are ready to deepen that knowledge and find ways to put theory into practice. You also might want to facilitate empathic design sessions in your in-house trainings.


Lidewij Niezink and Katherine Train, the co-founders of Empathic Intervision, will be your teachers and facilitators.

Dr Lidewij Niezink is an independent empathy scholar and practitioner, co-founder of Empathic Intervision, and Applied Psychology teacher, holding a PhD from the University of Groningen in The Netherlands. She develops evidence-based interventions and education for diverse organisations and writes and speaks on empathy for scientific, professional and lay publics.

Dr Katherine Train is an independent empathy scholar and practitioner, co-founder of Empathic Intervision and Empathy Facilitator at Design Thinkers Academy, South Africa. She holds a PhD from UCT, Graduate School of Business. She researches, develops and presents training on empathy, wellbeing and professional development and writes on these topics for scientific, professional and lay readers.

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About this Event

Length – 3 weeks, 15 contact hours, 2.5 per week + homework

Time – 10h30 to 13h00 South African and Central European Time

Tuesdays – 8, 15 & 22 June
Fridays – 11, 18, 25 June

Online platform – Zoom

Language – English


Tickets ZAR 14 999 (South Africa and African Continent)

Euro 750 (Europe)

Prices are excluding VAT.
If you are based outside South Africa we will not charge you with VAT. 

Your ticket includes access and use of the online environments (Miro & Zoom) for the duration of the course.
All tools and materials are also available after the course for personal use.
A certificate from DesignThinkers Academy is awarded to participants who successfully complete the course.
Discounts are available for teams signing up, Freelancers, Non-Profits and Government Organizations.


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