Being a psychologist has provided me with the privilege of sitting and hearing from clients about their most personal struggles. I have spent many hours listening to clients, and although the focus has been on assisting them to move forward, it has also taught me a wealth of lessons.
Today’s blog post will be on exactly that- the power of listening. I am so often reminded in the therapy room that clients don’t necessarily want to you to ‘fix’ their problems.
“… remember that often what your loved one may be looking for is someone to simply listen to their struggles and validate their pain.”
Clients often come to therapy having spoken to loved ones about their struggles. It is not uncommon for clients to express frustration towards their loved ones providing advice or trying to ‘fix their problems’. Often clients are able to acknowledge the love and care behind this advice, however it nevertheless can leave them feeling invalidated or dismissed. On many occasions clients tell me that they can see the ‘solution’ that their loved ones advise them to pursue, however it is not necessarily easy for them to pursue it. Stupid or helpless is how clients communicate feeling after receiving such “unsolicited advice”.
Now you may be thinking at this point, “Surely a psychologist is more than someone who just listens?” Don’t get me wrong, psychologists assist in more ways than “just listening”, however it can be easy to underestimate the power of listening. It can be easy to underestimate how empowering it can be for a client to feel that someone cares and understands what they are experiencing.
In supporting a loved one through hardships or emotional pain, it can be so easy to jump straight to ‘advice giving’ or ‘fixing’. However, remember that often what your loved one may be looking for is someone to simply listen to their struggles and validate their pain. It can empower your loved one when you acknowledge and understand their pain and suffering. Trying to ‘fix’ can often leave your loved feeling worse.
Michelle Dean (M Clin Psych, BA (Hons – First Class), brings her genuine care and compassion for people, along with her keen insight and analytical abilities to her work.
Through her various roles, she has developed a deep understanding of how these difficulties develop and impact on people in different life stages. Michelle has been able to assist her clients in developing skills to manage their anxiety and depression, along with enabling them to develop a healthy sense of self and greater self confidence. Michelle is a high calibre and compassionate professional and she is wonderful at being able to see the complexities of a clinical presentation and bring her therapeutic work down to a manageable and structured approach.