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  • Writer's pictureMelanie Reinersman

Do You Hear What I Hear? Teaching Clients to Listen

Updated: Jul 5, 2023

Active listening skills are one of the fundamental counselor competencies that must be achieved for the work with the client to be successful. CDA Insights has mentioned this skill in previous articles, such as the publications on Feedback, The Present, and Counselor Competencies. Equally important is helping the client to listen to themselves – both their head and their heart (not to mention the rest of the body)! ~ Melanie Reinersman,

Photo by Alex Blăjan from Unsplash

FOCUS ON: The Four Listening Styles

The primary focus of the person listening to a message is thought to depend on what style of listener they are. Four listening styles have been identified: people, action, content, and time. The people-oriented listening focuses on the speaker; the action-oriented listening aims to find out what the speaker wants; the content-oriented listener enjoys hearing well-development information with solid explanations; and the time-oriented listener wants the speaker to get to the point quickly. Read more about the general manners in which individuals attend to messages.

FOR PRACTITIONERS: How to Listen to Yourself

Those who commit to putting in the effort to differentiate between the things that are personally true verses what others taught as fact can reap the benefits of knowing how to listen to oneself. This includes making good choices, reducing stress and increasing self-esteem. However the efforts require constantly asking good questions, indulging in imagination and eliminating clutter. Read more from this mental health blog.

FOR PRACTITIONERS: Increasing Awareness of the Body's Wisdom

Many people do not know how to listen and understand what their own body is telling them. Practitioners can help clients identify bodily sensations so as to achieve better alignment in areas of career and life. Employing somatic practices such as breathwork, movement exercises, touch, and vocalization/vibration can shift the client's response to outside stimuli. For example, a client who feels overwhelmed by an upcoming job interview may experience unpleasant sensations in their stomach and could benefit from a mood check and conscious dialogue with a career coach. Read more in Career Convergence.

JOB SEARCHING: Listening Strengths and Weaknesses

Job seekers must listen during the conversations with potential employers. Each job seeker’s strength and weakness related to listening may be affected by their personality type. Looking at the job seeker’s Myers-Briggs type (per the MBTI), a specific picture of the individual’s listening skills is described. Review the different types’ listening skills at Personality Growth.

TOP TEN: Ways to Teach Listening Skills

Modeling, the most effective way to teach someone to listen, involves overcoming barriers such as distractions and bias. Breaking down barriers includes being comfortable with silence, heeding the tone, and watching the non-verbal communication. Read all ten from Future Focused Learning.


“When you listen, you are still. When you listen, you separate from your ego. When you listen, you learn a thing or two.” ~ Hania Khuri-Trapper
“Listening is a positive act. You have to put yourself out to do it.” ~ David Hockney


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