Listening attentively and sensitively are traits that the Counsellor will demonstrate, however in training there are four mistakes that often pop up. If you bear these four in mind as you are listening, you will notice when and where you're doing them or catch yourself just before you do.
- Being Judgemental
- Giving Advice
Sometimes a Counsellor has a tendency to interrupt and not allow the client to finish what they were saying.
For instance you may butt in and try to finish their sentences, (this may be something you do with your friends and family.) A Counsellor may also change the subject without really noticing. Interruptions can invoke many negative thoughts in clients who are cut off such as "She isn't listening to me." "She doesn't think much of what I have to say." "She is only interested in hearing herself talk."
The second mistake is being too controlling. You may not think you're doing this. You may direct or lead your client into your own agenda rather than theirs. If you monopolise the helping conversation, you clients have little chance to speak. If you are too controlling you restrict opportunities for listening.
3. Being Judgemental
The third mistake is to be too judgemental. Listening well, requires you to possess an accepting attitude that respects clients as separate and unique human beings.
4. Giving Advice
The fourth mistake is to give advice. Often we have the urge to do just that when sitting with our clients.
However, in doing so you take over the ownership of your client's problems and lives. You may barely listen to what your clients say before you come up with what they should be doing or thinking. You may find that this happens within your mind before you even say anything.
Good listening skills
To a large extent you allow the client to control the content during the session. Your role is to help your clients reveal their internal perspectives, on their own terms and at their own pace.
Active listening entails not only understanding clients' communications but also showing that you have understood.
Active listening involves responding to your client in a respectful way. This will help to create a safe emotional atmosphere, which demonstrates you are tuned into your client's feelings.
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