Thursday, April 17, 2014

Supportive Listening - The Circle Way Works By Agreement

Find a partner and agree to the time, equal amount for each, and decide who will go first

Look into each other’s eyes for the good, caring, intelligent, vibrant person hiding there

Listener: get as close as feels safe to the other and give concentrated, delighted attention

Reflecting back your interest, concern, and confidence in the other

What you want to support is the discharge of feelings, both difficult, painful and confused ones and also more positive and joyful feelings.  Often only your caring attention will elicit discharge, as the person may just need a safe place to express them.

Discharge can be lively talking, laughing, weeping, shaking, sweating, yawning, goose flesh.  These are signs that feelings are being released, and you should do nothing to interfere with that, only showing sympathy and understanding and an encouragement that the person is doing the right thing and should continue.  When the discharge stops it can help sometimes to repeat back the thought that started the discharge, it may continue.

Until you learn other ways to contradict the person’s distress it is best to say nothing except such questions as: “How does that feel?” or “What’s that thought?”

Don’t give advice, don’t analyze, don’t judge, be sympathetic but don’t cry louder than the person you’re listening to.

To insure the safety needed to open one’s feelings, it is essential that whatever is said in a session be kept absolutely confidential.  If you wish to refer to something the other said in a session you must ask her/his permission

Like any skill, the art of co-counseling gets better the more you practice it.

The one who is being listened to gets to decide what she/he will work on.  It’s good if you are able to take some time beforehand to think about that and guide your own session.

The listener may then suggest you explore earlier instances of these feelings to discharge on, or may suggest a posture, a facial expression or tone of voice you might try for a contradiction, or may exaggerate or understate the situation for a new perspective

Don’t forget humor – laughter is good discharge and is healing!

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