my comments. Similarly, this gentle demeanor helps my clients feel as if they are in safeenvironment in which they can freely speak their mind. Dr. McKee also commented on myvoice and said that it will be helpful to me later on and will allow me to perturb the client whilestill maintaining a non-threatening position.In addition to using the L.U.V technique, having an attentive body language, and a softvoice, I believe I also did well with my use of paralinguistic utterances. To encourage my clientto continue telling her story, I made a
subtle “mmmmmm” noise
when she finished a thought orduring an important segment in her narrative. Furthermore, I occasionally used paralinguisticutterances as a
response and “skipped a turn” instead of
providing a direct feedback. This
practice of “skipping turns” has been hard for me to employee but I’m starting to
understand itsimportance and how to use it.Specifically, social conversation dictates a 50/50 relationship in which one person speaksand one person listens with the roles continuously switching. However, in counseling, this socialnorm is severely skewed in that the counselor listens more and speaks significantly less. Hencethe expression of
cause the counselor is skipping his or her turn in whichthey were supposed to speak. Instead of speaking, the counselor inserts a paralinguistic utteranceor some anticipatory body language to encourage the client to keep speaking.
Aside for “skipping turns”,
it is imperative for a counselor to know how to appropriatelyask questions to his or her client. I also thought I also did well in this area, and asked openquestions that would probe her to more thoughtfully reflect upon her situation. For example, myclient spoke about the importance of getting validation for her profession. Thus, I asked what itwould mean to her if her area of study had that validation. This question lead to her
How Paraphrasing Builds Empathy
How does paraphrasing affect the client–counsellor relationship?
First of all, it helps the client to feel both heard and understood. The client brings their material, daring to share that with you. And you show that you’re listening by giving them a little portion of that back – the part that feels the most important.
You paraphrase it down. And if you do that accurately and correctly, and it matches where the client is, the client is going to recognise that and to feel heard: ‘Finally, somebody is there really listening, really understanding what it is that I am bringing.’
This keys right into empathy, because it’s about building that empathic relationship with the client. And empathy is not a one-way transaction.
‘empathy’ as the ability to ‘perceive the internal frame of reference of another with accuracy and with the emotional components and meanings which pertain thereto as if one were the person, but without ever losing the “as if” conditions’. Carl Rogers (1959, pp. 210–211)
In other words, we walk in somebody’s shoes as if it their reality is our reality – but of course it’s not our reality, and that’s where the ‘as if’ comes in. I’ve heard this rather aptly described as ‘walking in the client’s shoes, but keeping our socks on’!
Empathy is a two-way transaction – that is, it’s not enough for us to be 100% in the client’s frame of reference, understanding their true feelings; the client must also perceive that we understand. When the client feels at some level that they have been understood, then the empathy circle is complete.