Paying attention to verbal and non-verbal cues and responding appropriately to what’s being said and, importantly, to what’s not being said can be regarded as listening. From birth, we spend quite a couple of years being taught how to speak, read and write; but how to cultivate the act of listening is rarely possible, which is the skill we use in most of our daily essential activities.
We often find listening quite difficult to the extent that one individual listening skills are different from another person as regards to mental health intervention and general way of life. As appropriate use of communication skills can serve as a foundation for healthcare for individuals and family who had or experiencing emotional stress and psychological distress.
Communication in terms of listening further helps as an optimistic approach of interest, warmth and respect, therefore, being considered therapeutic as well. While therapeutically representing the source of all responses effectively generating assistance, listening is appreciated by various psychological approaches and common sense in alleviating patients’ psychological challenges and distress. For healthcare, through a dialogue that is developed, listening can minimise the distress and lessen the assisted suffering, because it enables the individual to hear their words, bringing to mind self-reflection.
Cultivating general listening skill
Developing the process of listening skill generally is an important component of communication and pathway to healing process, which may involve understanding client utterances and feelings and then communicating that understanding back to them in a more professional and clear manner. In the process of listening, such is an attitude of therapy that involves through absorption of the narrative of the individual without offering suggestion or order so that, upon listening, reports diseases or life experiences from a psychological perspective.
Another instance of active listening process is offering an opinion of a discussion with family, relatives of friends after a shared story with the aim of proffering immediate or lasting solution to the issue, in others words, while listening with sympathy or makes comments that aim to calm who is heard during a meeting.
Another strategy of cultivating active therapeutic listening is through the process of seeking legal advice from a lawyer where an expert consultation is provided and the information is transmitted to a professional to listen and advise or provide accurate information about concerns.
Also, listening therapeutically in this style can have a positive influence on the one being listened to when supporting them in the formulation of more constructive reactions to psychological distress. Researchers had earlier noted that, the practice of active listening by health practitioners’ means recognising a patient’s suffering, offers offers client’s opportunity to speak and express themselves in a manner they so desire. Instance of such is through the use of open questions, synopsis, and elucidation which have been an important therapeutic tool as listening helps for obtaining information about patients or clients’ needs.
Why we should engage in therapeutic listening
Unlike our usual listening, therapeutic listening consists of more programmes that must be followed in a certain order; it is arranged in a number of different sequences to address a client’s portrait and goals in a specific clinical manner. Not only can therapeutic listening be used independently, it can also be used as a tool to harmonise other sensorimotor-based therapies as part of a sensory diet in the health centre or at home.
Making it suitable for a greater diversity of clients, this listening offers therapists or counsellors a broader range of applications.
Therefore, with nearly any sensory-based clinical issue, therapeutic listening serves as a tool to be used. Applied to health in meeting potential patient conditions that may influence the achievement of expected results with this technique, therapeutic listening is an inevitable approach. Therapeutic listening can help with challenges in following instructions, with transitions or changes in routine, struggles with sleep, difficulty in both verbal and non-verbal communicating, bowel and bladder control, and eating, as well as challenges perceiving and navigating space.
Becoming aware of what one is doing when they are listening is the process of understanding that there are distinctions between only receiving information and listening with the aim of solving challenges.
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Onah Caleb is a a research assistant in Benue State University (Nigeria). He runs the blog KaylebsThought.