Reflective listening

I’m sorry I missed Monday’s post. I wasn’t able to get to the computer for the past two days. Talk about being behind. Way behind.

I wanted to continue on the topic of communication from the Family to Family from NAMI. Today’s topic is reflective listening. Again, this can be used with anyone, but especially with the mentally ill.

Basic Steps for Making Reflective Responses

1. Ackowledge the reality of your relative’s ‘lived experiences’ – that is, THEIR reality (rather than your reality). Like hearing voices for instances.

2. Direct your responses to what someone having this experience must be feeling (rather than what YOU are feeling). In I-statements you were talking about what you were feeling. Here you are concentrating on the other person’s feelings. You are reflecting them.

3. Communicate that you understand what s/he believes and how s/he feels.

4. Do not attempt to correct or ‘disconfirm’ his/her viewpoint until you have reflected his/her perception and feelings. This is very important. Even if what they are feeling is not true (like someone is poisoning me), you need to acknowledge the feeling, before disbunking their reality.

For instance:

S/he says: My food is poisoned

You say: It must be frightening to think someone is trying to hurt you.

What you are doing is staying with the feelings that have been communicated. This means you are going to listen for the emotional content of what you are hearing, rather than getting upset about the words. In this way, you can reflect back the essential part of your relative’s communication.

So you listen, then repeat back the feelings you are hearing the other person say. Like active listening. Then you take time to show them the reality in a caring way.

Don’t ever argue with someone who is having voices or is convinced someone is after them. Listen to them, ackowledge their feelings. Help them feel safe. Don’t ever disregard what they are feeling or hearing. It is real to them.

Reflective listening is not always easy to do. Many times you want to quickly deny what they say. Stop and think first. Listen with your heart to the feeling beneath the words. Then respond.

If they hear that you are validating their feelings, they will continue to express themselves more. They will have a better chance of healing and recovery.