Reflective listening

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This technique involves listening to what the client is saying, forming an understanding of what the client is talking about and then giving voice (reflecting) to that understanding. This can be a mere substitution of the client’s words, a guess at the unspoken meaning, an observation about the client’s emotions or suggesting the next sentence in the client’s paragraph (known as continuing the paragraph). Good reflective listening keeps the client talking, exploring, and considering. It is also specific in the sense that the AOD worker selects specific information on which to reflect.

The depth of reflection increases with the level of the AOD worker’s experience and expertise. Simple reflections can be useful, but can sometimes lead to slower progress if the AOD worker is not able to add complexity and depth by interpreting the spoken and unspoken content, anticipating what may come next [389]. Some examples of how to initiate reflective listening include [389]:

  • ‘It sounds like you…’
  • ‘And that worries you…’
  • ‘You are…’
  • ‘Would it be correct to say that you…’.

In clients displaying symptoms of co-occurring mental health conditions, these statements should be simple, concise and frequent. Avoid repeated reflecting of the client’s negative statements and allow him/ her time to consider these reflections [1168].