What to Say to Someone Who Is Going Through a Hard Time With Dr. Kelsey Crowe

Tips from an empathy expert

kelsey crowe

Verywell / Julie Bang

Every Monday on The Verywell Mind Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Amy Morin, LCSW, interviews authors, experts, entrepreneurs, athletes, musicians, and other inspirational people about the strategies that help them think, feel, and do their best in life.

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Meet Dr. Kelsey Crowe

Kelsey Crowe, PhD, heads Empathy Bootcamp, a company that trains people to be more empathetic

She earned her doctorate in social welfare from the University of California, Berkeley and she has taught social work classes at California State University. 

She is also the author of "There Is No Good Card for This." In it, she describes what to say to someone who is going through a difficult situation, like the loss of a loved one or a divorce.

Why Dr. Kelsey Crowe Is Mentally Strong

Kelsey is a breast cancer survivor. Her experience showed her how difficult it can be for other people to know what to say or what to do when someone is going through a hardship.

She took what she learned from that experience, as well as her knowledge of empathy, and created a roadmap for other people with her book. She gives actionable ideas that can help anyone feel more confident when they respond to someone else’s pain.

What You’ll Hear on the Show

  • What cancer taught Kelsey about empathy
  • The things other people did or said that made a difference in her life
  • Why it’s so difficult to know what to say to someone who is going through a hard time
  • How to get over the fear of saying the wrong thing
  • The one question you can ask in almost any situation
  • How to know when you should say nothing at all
  • The kind gestures you can do for someone who is struggling
  • How to know when it’s OK to share your own experience
  • How to avoid toxic positivity
  • The difference between curiosity and concern
  • What to do if you have avoided saying something to someone you know is struggling

What You’ll Learn About Mental Health and Mental Strength

Although many people have grown more comfortable talking about their own mental health, talking to someone else about their emotional pain can still feel quite awkward.

But a few kind words and a willingness to listen to someone can go a long way toward helping them when they’re struggling.

Fortunately, we can all learn empathy skills and build confidence in our ability to respond to someone’s emotional pain.

Quotes From Dr. Kelsey

Dr. Kelsey Crowe

There are so many people in our lives that we come across that have problems. So, just be there for them. But if you don't care, leave it alone because then it just seems like curiosity and not [out of] concern.

— Dr. Kelsey Crowe
  • "What do people wanna hear? They do want to hear [about] hope, but it has to be founded in something real, not a TV show."

More About the Podcast

The Verywell Mind Podcast is available across all streaming platforms. If you like the show, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts.

Reviews and ratings are a great way to encourage other people to listen and help them prioritize their mental health too.

Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript does not go through our standard editorial process and may contain inaccuracies and grammatical errors. Thank you.

For media or public speaking inquiries, contact Amy here.

Links and Resources

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By Amy Morin, LCSW
Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk,  "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time.