As a counselor, we are taught a variety of ways to offer intentional, active listening. When someone is actively listening, they’re intentionally focusing on the other person. It is expected that the listener reiterates and clearly repeat back what the client has said; in other words, it is essential that we understand what the client is saying. We must get a clear picture of what the client is talking about by asking questions and staying attuned to the details of what they’re saying.
Next is an affirmation, a person who is struggling has probably sought counseling to have their problems acknowledged by professional. We should reflect problems and feelings back to the client and help them explore this difficulty in depth. I find that it is beneficial when the counselor can offer this understanding to allow the client to hear back what they have just shared. The counselor benefits and understanding the content, and the client benefits from feeling affirmed and validated for their feelings. In this realm, it is also acceptable to challenge the client in a non-threatening way that will help them see a situation differently.
Another critical area of active listening focuses on facilitating the space and emotional regulation on the counselor’s part. The client should feel safe and understood during the sessions. The tone of the counselor’s voice and the body language of the counselor should match what the client is feeling to some degree. These forms of facilitation are imperative to building a strong working relationship.
With Intention, Sarafina