19 Feb 2008

Looking Inside

Posted by supportivelistening

It’s easy to think of supportive listening as this simple thing that people do–pay attention, nod, show that You care, and they’ll feel better–the emotional equivalent of a pat on the back and a “there, there.”

But there’s a lot more to it than that. As I see it, supportive listening is an application of timeless therapeutic principles that are usually ascribed to luck, or to mysterious intuition and talent (“She’s just such a good listener… Whenever we talk, I come up with all kinds of solutions for my problems”). Carl Rogers (have You had a chance to read any of his stuff?) wrote beautifully on the incredible impact that unconditional positive regard, accurate empathy and authenticity can have on people. He also suggested (very convincingly, in my opinion) that in the vast majority of cases, people can find their own integrated solutions without requiring the guidance (subtle as it may be) of an external, omniscient parent/teacher/therapist.

There are times when external guidance may be necessary, of course, but we are often all too quick to tell people what to do, how to think, and whom to believe. The idea that people can figure stuff out for themselves seems to be, for the most part, unfashionable. In my opinion, people can do a lot more for themselves than we’re commonly led to believe – given the right support structure.

Paul and I have been very encouraged with the positive responses we’ve received from workshop participants, and are now working to design a more in-depth class. The class will meet over a number of sessions, provide more specific techniques for Supportive Listening and explain the principles and philosophy behind this approach. Most importantly, we’re building the class to provide lots of opportunities to practice. We will add details about registration for the class as time goes by – stay tuned! And, in the meantime, take good care of yourselves and of each other.

– Eran

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