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Listening Skills in Counseling

Most counseling training describes the discrete skills of listening with similar words,
but typically, a listener needs to attend to the speaker, which means position him or
herself to indicate to the speaker that the speaker is the center of the listeners
attention. Those behaviors can include eye contact, body position, even turning the
head to the side, giving the client your ear, so to speak, encouraging comments from
the listener, mirroring body positions. (You will be amazed at how much mirroring
behavior happens in a session). ince most communication occurs nonverbally, the
listeners nonverbal behaviors are critical in the establishment of trust and safety for
the speaker, who may be revealing personal secrets never before revealed.
o the listener needs to set in his or her mind an intention to create and sustain
!nd there will be times when your attention drifts. "eset your intention and come
back to the session. Your speaker, who is watching you intently, will see your
attention shift. You many need to say something about being struck by your
speakers comment, and following it out of the session, and ask them to repeat it.
The ne#t important part of listening is to capture the verbal and nonverbal
communication of the speaker.
You will be listening for the story line or chronology typically, and $ like to listen for
patterns of speech, for e#ample, the use of words like should, ought, and must,
which can point to a pattern of thinking. %istening will involve hearing what was not
said also.
%istening will include observing the process or nonverbal communications. &or
e#ample, a client may become particularly animated when mentioning one situation,
or e#cited at another, and $ want to be able to check with them about that nonverbal
Empathy Skills in Counseling
'mpathy to me means the ability to name the emotions $ am observing and to ask
the speaker if $ am accurate in my perceptions.
(hen $ do this, $ often see speakers calm down, as they e#perience being heard
respectfully. )ftentimes, my speakers *ust need to be heard respectfully. $n other
words, the do not need me to solve the problem, but to listen to and recognize their
The +iscrete kills associated with empathy include listening, and reflecting patient
feelings and implicit messages, in an ,$, statement usually.
! reflection might go something like this, ,).-., here is what it sounds like so far, you
are angry about your ....., did $ hear you accurately/
$f the speaker replies that $ did not hear them accurately, $ ask them to repeat, and
then $ listen and reflect again, and again if need be, until the speaker says that my
reflection is accurate.
"emember that all $ am doing here is listening, like a tape recorder, no
interpretation, *udgement, or problem solving yet.
$ am hearing in a supportive and accepting way only.
-evin 0. +rab, in his 1+& called The Top Ten 2asic 3ounseling kills, reports that this
process of paraphrasing includes four steps.
4.%isten and recall. The entire client message to ensure you recalled it in its entirety.
"epeat the speakers words in your own head, and this does take attention and
intention, and is so important.
5.6et clear on the content of the message. 6et the details down.
7."ephrase or repeat back to the client an essential summary of details and feelings.
8.!sk if you have heard the message accurately.
Genuiness Skills in Counseling
The listener is congruent in their verbal and nonverbal behaviour, which indicates
your comfort with the other human being in your presence.
$ like to think that this 9other soul9 deserves to be heard respectfully, no matter what
the behavior. "eminding myself of that commitment helps my sustain genuine
interest in my client.
$f my nonverbal communication indicates incongruence, that is, my words are
reassuring, but non:verbal indicate tension, the speaker is less likely to feel safe.
Unconditional Positive Regard
kills in counseling include an internal acknowledgement that the speaker is
acceptable, and an acceptance is conveyed through non*udgemental verbal and
nonverbal behaviors.
Concreteness Skills in Counseling
3oncreteness skill in counseling involves helping the client to identify and work on a
specific problem from the various problems presented. $t might also involve keeping
the client on track with that problem in this session, clarifying facts, terms, feelings,
goals, and uses a hear and now focus to emphasize issues in today9s session.
$ know deep and powerful change is possible. $ have done it and $ have seen others
do it, and $ think it is important to communicate to your client that change is very
available and possible, but not predictable.
!nd for you counselors and educators out there, can you imagine working with
someone when you are on the same heart beat with them/
'ncourage your client to embrace change as a challenge and e#perience the great
positives in their mindset and the environment.