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Psychology: The Importance Of Empathic Listening

Powerful Essays
Listening is an art, a skill, and a discipline that is considered to be an integral aspect in the success of the therapeutic alliance. Listening is not a passive technique, it is an active process in which the therapist listens to what is said, and how it is said, as well as listening to the whole person and the context of their social setting. Aspects of listening encompass linguistic, paralinguistic, and non-verbal aspects in order to tune in both mentally and visibly. Egan (2014) explains full listening as listening actively, listening accurately, and listening for meaning. According to Egan (2014) listening does not just occur; it requires effort on the part of the counsellor in order to avoid engaging in inadequate listening. The counsellor…show more content…
Empathic listening is a process, not a state of being (Watson, 2000). This subtle and elusive quality is not something one is born with, it has to be learned through training and experience. It is worth considering however, that while it is a learnt skill it has to be genuine as it is necessary for the counsellor to be experienced as empathic and congruent in the process (Rogers, 1975). In order to convey true empathy there should be no element of evaluation or diagnostic quality. The resources required to listen empathically, to get to the heart of clients communications, is a taxing and demanding exercise and process which requires great concentration (Watson, 2000). One of the notable advantages of empathic listening is that it facilitates the client’s sense of being heard, understood and recognised; it acknowledges and honours the person’s identification with a particular person (Guilfoyle,…show more content…
“Helpers forget at times that their labels are interpretations rather than understandings of their clients”, (Egan, 2014, p. 78). Egan suggests that the counsellor ensures the client, rather than theories and models, remains the focus of their attention. Some therapists may have a tendency to focus on asking informational questions and focusing on facts, rather than gaining an understanding of the client as a person. In order to move away from this, Egan (2014) suggests that counsellors concentrate on clients contextually with a focus on key themes and messages being voiced. The role of sympathy in human relationships is valuable; however in the therapeutic context it is misplaced. Expressing sympathy may result in a move away from a problem management and reinforce self-pity in the client (Egan,
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