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88 m a s s a g e & b o d y wo r k m a rc h /a p r i l 2 0 2 3 A wise teacher of mine once said, "When a client is speaking to you, listen as if what they are saying is the most important thing you will hear all day." Making sure your client feels heard seems like it should be an automatic offering. However, time and again clients report leaving a previous therapist to find a new one because they didn't feel their needs were heard or met. Clearly, there is a gap. Even if you believe you already demonstrate excellent listening skills, it's worth examining your communication practices to ensure you are offering active listening at every stage of the client/therapist interaction (scheduling, pre-session, on the table, post- session, between sessions, and at subsequent sessions) and at every level of being (physical, mental, and emotional). It's a game changer when it comes to building connection and loyal relationships. WHAT IS ACTIVE LISTENING? Active listening is a practice of being deeply present with another person when they are speaking. It involves doing more than just hearing their words; it means being essential skills | BACK TO BASICS How to Ensure Your Client Feels Heard By Cindy Williams engaged in the experience of communication while seeking to understand their wants and needs. It includes using all your senses as you hear them, watching their body language, empathizing with what they are feeling as they speak, and meeting them where they are with ref lective responses. When you are listening, it is worth asking yourself: What message are they trying to convey and what does it mean to them? For example, if a client says they are experiencing neck pain, their facial expressions and body positioning can guide you to recognize how much that pain is affecting them. If you are on the phone with them and can't see their expressions, you can listen for emotion in their tone and volume. These observations are what guide you to accurately ref lect the experience they are sharing. HOW TO ACTIVELY LISTEN AND RESPOND There are many communication models for active listening. Below is a basic sequence of components I use to listen and respond with the goal of building strong relationships and offering the client what they want and need. Reflect > Remember > Deliver Reflect: Ref lection is what makes listening "active." It shows the speaker you truly hear them and seek to genuinely understand what they are saying. Ref lecting happens physically, mentally, and emotionally, and uses all the senses. When you ref lect what a person is saying, brief ly summarize what you heard them say and ask if you are on the right track. Listen for the physical concerns as well as how their concerns cause them to think and feel. Keep

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