Empathy is the action of understanding and being sensitive to the feelings, thoughts, motives and experience of another person.
(http://mow. Merriam-Webster. Com/ dictionary/ empathy) Empathetic listening, also known as active listening Is a method of listening that Involves understanding both the content of a message as well as the Intent of the sender and the circumstances under which the message Is given.
(http://w. N. N. V. Tooling. Com/definition-9501 55-54511 -empathetic-listening. HTML) To be able to effectively listen empathetically, you must be able to give the person peaking with your full attention, no multi-tasking. Do not judge the person speaking, try to put yourself in their shoes and understand what they are feeling.
Make sure to pay close attention to the emotions behind the words of the speaker. Are they angry, afraid, frustrated or resentful? Respond to the emotion as well as the words. Do not talk. You must realize that you do not need an immediate reply. If you let the silence happen, the person speaking often will break the silence and offer a solution.Make sure that the person speaking knows that you are listening and trying to make sure hat you understand them by asking questions to clarify what they are saying. It also helps to restate what you think the person Is saying.
(http:/two. Lovelace. Org/articles/ Lifelikeџ-TLS-for-empathetic-listening. HTML) If you are new to active listening, I would suggest putting all pens and paper away. This will ensure that you are not tempted to take notes or jot down questions. Another good idea is to send your phone to biochemical so that the ringing telephone is not interrupting the person speaking.
Lastly, turn off your computer so there is no temptation there to get on it. It is also important to make sure that the person speaking is comfortable. I would suggest a comfortable chair and non-fluorescent lighting. This will help to relax the person speaking so they are not as on edge as they might otherwise be. Empathetic listening has been something that I have been working on since starting this class.
When I completed the self-assessment for Interpersonal effectiveness, I realized that this was one of my weakest areas. I am usually the queen of multi-tasking and my patients were the ones to pay the price.The tips I gave about putting all pens and paper away, turning off my computer, forwarding my hone and placing a counselor in session sign on my door so that there are no interruptions were the first steps I took to improve my empathetic listening skills. I then asked my patients what would make them feel more comfortable and was offered the responses that the chairs were hard and the lights were very bright.
So, my next investment was a more comfortable chair for my patients and a lamp so that I did not have to use the overhead fluorescent light.I asked my patients to fill out an anonymous survey this week about differences in their counseling sessions and what they think about my effectiveness since I have men trying these new methods and I got a lot of positive feedback. My patients say that they are more comfortable in my office, and have repeatedly voiced how they feel more Important In our counseling sessions because I am no longer distracted by patient and understanding since I have made these changes. My boss pulled me aside last Friday and asked me what brought about the changes in my counseling methods.
I told her about the class I was taking and explained to her the results of my self-assessment. She said that she has been talked to about the improvement in my counseling. She said she has noticed a lot of improvement in my technique, and wanted to let me know I was doing a good Job.
The one area that I find challenging still is interrupting them to ask questions or trying to fill the silence when they stop talking rather than giving them time to collect their thoughts and continue on. I am actively working on this area and I am sure that it will Just take practice to perfect this skill as well.Listening empathetically has changed my conversations in many ways. I have noticed that I am more attentive and am easier able to pick up on little things like heir tone, their emotional state and whether or not they are telling the truth. I have always known that there are some people who are in substance abuse treatment because they are being made to be there, not because they want to be there. Usually it is pretty easy to tell which is which by how they obey the rules and what they have to say in counseling sessions.
I have found since starting this class and working on my weaknesses, I am able to pick up on the truth easier than before.I also feel that it has improved the relationship between my patients and me. It has made them more rusting and comfortable so they open up a lot better than they did before.
I have noticed that it takes less time to reach important stages of change now. I feel like I understand my patients more now than I did before and I attribute this to the changes I have made in my empathetic listening skills and my interpersonal effectiveness skills. This whole class has been very eye opening in regards to how I have been doing things up until now and the vast difference in my effectiveness between then and now.I have noticed that it takes less time to build the bond necessary for my patients to trust me and feel comfortable talking to me.
I even have one patient that I was ready to transfer to our highest group, “Phoenix Group”, and when I discussed it with her on Monday, she requested to stay in my group because she liked my counseling and was not interested in changing. She told me that she has a very hard time opening up to people and trusting people and that I have gotten her trust and respect in the last three weeks and she is not willing to trade that in for a group upgrade. I would consider this to be one of my best days at my Job!!!When I started this class, I thought I was a very competent Substance Abuse Counselor. I was able to assist my patients, get my work done and multi-task. Wow, was I wrong! I was a decent counselor who was trying to do too much at a time at the expense of my patients. This class has shown me the type of counselor I want to be and the type of counselor my patients both need and deserve.
At the beginning of this class, when I did the self-assessment of my interpersonal effectiveness, I rated my best two qualities as my competence and my ethics. My two weaker areas were my emotional intelligence and my mindfulness.Come to find out, competence should have been rated as one of my bottom two along with my mindfulness. So, I have to lower my competence score because my multi-tasking and sidetracking during my counseling sessions adversely affected my relationships with my patience and my less competent counselor than I thought I was. Now, I feel like I am much more mindful of my patients needs and emotions, and I feel like I hear them more than I did before. I believe this makes me a much more competent counselor and as long as I keep working on it and improving these skills, I can only improve from here.