Active Listening

Active listening is a key way to provide emotional containment for both pupils in the group.

Active listening is…

  • Focused listening
  • Non judgemental
  • Use of reflection, paraphrasing and summarising
  • Use of open questions
  • Checking understanding
  • Use of non-verbal signs e.g. nodding

Active listening is not …

  • Having a conversation
  • Giving advice
  • Problem-solving
  • Saying ‘Oh I know exactly how you feel, that happened to me’ – even if it has!

Reflection and Paraphrasing

  • Reflection repeats what has actually been said
  • Paraphrasing restates using  your own words
  • Used for both content and feelings

When reflecting feelings it is important to be both non-judgemental and tentative  as only the person themselves will really knows how they are feeling. Try to avoid using ‘You must be feeling…’ but instead start reflective statements with one of the following ‘tentative’ openings:

I wonder if you are feeling…
I imagine you feel…
You seem to be feeling…
Perhaps you might be feeling…

It sounds as if you are feeling…

Summarising
Summarising what someone has said by drawing together their main points in a few statements can both show the person that you have really listened to them and also help clarify what has been said.

Reflecting Body Language
By reflecting on body language it is possible to sensitively include the feelings of a silent child. Remember to begin with a tentative opening and avoid saying ‘ you must be feeling…’

It is important that the child hears the reflection as being supportive rather than critical.

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Therapeutic Story Writing book coverTherapeutic Storywriting – A Practical Guide to Developing Emotional Literacy.

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