How can listening to people be therapeutic? What are some proper ways to respond to clients’ feelings? Why is body language so important when listening to others?

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This is quite a complex question to answer in generic terms, particularly as you are not stating a particular case. But I’ll give you some generic ideas on how to approach these questions.

Generally speaking, in a therapy session, listening to people is very important. Being listened to has undoubtedly got an important therapeutic effect on clients. You might want to highlight the fact that many people nowadays don’t have anyone they can openly talk to. The main reason for this is that people usually fear that they will be judged by others if they reveal their personal worries to them. Speaking to a therapist, on the other hand, doesn’t carry this risk. A therapist is listening calmly and objectively, which allows the client to open up and speak freely without having to worry about embarrassing themselves. This is why the therapist’s listening can be very therapeutic for the client indeed.

In order to make the therapist’s listening an even more effective therapeutic tool, the therapist needs to ensure that their body language keeps displaying an open and non-judgemental mindset. In order for the client to feel at ease and to help the client to open up about their feelings more, it is important that the therapist’s body language reflects this goal. You could mention an open body position at this point in your answer, where arms are not folded and legs are not crossed, which indicates that the therapist is open towards what the client has got to say. Facing the client directly and maintaining occasional friendly eye contact would further underline this message, as it indicates interest and understanding.

With regard to your question about how to respond to a patient’s feelings, it is important for the therapist to not say or do anything that could potentially destroy the patient’s willingness to open up. Generally speaking, I would suggest that a therapist’s response should stay in line with what I described above: making the client feel at ease and helping the client to trust the therapist, in order to be able to open up fully. Therefore, a therapist should never make any personal judgments with regard to what the client has been saying. Instead, the therapist should make objective yet empathetic remarks, which show the client that they are not being judged and which help the client to reflect.

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