What can a skilled listener do to help you?
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Lee Allen Registered Member MBACP
11th July, 20110 Comments
The question you might want to ask yourself when considering counselling is ‘what can a skilled listener do to help you? In this article I want to answer this very question, which I hope will inform your decision.
Okay let’s go to you, you are not happy, things aren’t right in your world, you need to make decisions, you need to understand why you feel the way you do, all these are issues you might feel you need help to resolve. What is really happening to you is your ability to understand and help yourself is compromised, how then can a Counsellor make a difference? Well I would not hesitate to conclude that while your life is not all it could be, you might be struggling to really believe in yourself and to find a way to help yourself feel better about yourself. Then what is happening to you while you struggle to make sense of yourself in your world, well fundamentally what are you doing, you are struggling to listen to your innate self, that is the true you, and through not listening, you are struggling to find a way to live that is right for you. So a Counsellor being a skilled listener uses this skill to reflect back to you what you are articulating, and through tracking what you say, questions what you say if at odds from your non verbal responses, they can then enable you to truly listen to yourself. Having a dialogue with yourself that is validated and announced back to you, can start a process of you beginning to not only understand why you are where you are, yet help give rise to questions about what you want to do with your life and how you are going to do it. In a sense your counsellor is acting like a mirror that reflects back to you the you, you struggle to hear, let alone listen to, and through this mirror you can begin to understand the you, you have been denying to yourself.
This sounds simple, and gives rise to the question, couldn’t anybody do this for me, well that would be a very rare person, a person that has no vested interests in your life and any decisions you make, who do you know who can be fully non judgemental and confidential, and is completely separate from your ever day world, and can give you a relationship that is fully about you on a regular basis, okay the answer is? You might say well my best friend, brother, sister, father, mother really listens to me and understands me, so why can’t he or she be described as a skilled listener, well again they may well help, yet they could be in a sense too close to you ,and the space you need for someone to truly reflect your world could be undermined by the fact they may well know you to well and could have a vested interest in what you decide to do with your life, especially if it includes them.
I want to consider further the listening skill counsellors train years to acquire, and what really makes you the client really feel understood when a Counsellor reflects to you what you have said, well it is the empathy and unconditional positive regard you feel from your counsellor that helps you really hear yourself and believe in what you say. Now then to break down this listening skill it becomes more than a skill it becomes an attitudinal quality counsellor’s work hard to provide and maintain, and I would not hesitate to state, you would struggle to find that in your everyday life. If you want such a helping relationship, what I have described is a relational orientated counsellor, which Person Centred Counsellors are all about and have spent years to become, to help clients like you.
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