Gimme Five: When working with kids and teens around building social skills and healthy relationships, listening may be a helpful place to start. The Gimme Five strategy is a way to learn and practice listening with the whole body. The strategy is also a useful visual and experiential technique to demonstrate the process of active listening. Here are the steps:
• This exercise can be used visually with a hand or a drawing of a hand with five fingers
o Each finger represents one of the five: eyes, ears, mouth, hands, feet.
• Then explain that in the practice of listening includes:
o Eyes forward
o Open ears
o A paused mouth
o Still-ish hands
o Quiet-ish feet
Sample Progress Note: The focus of the session was to (tailor based on tx plan). The therapist engaged the Ct. in a skill building exercise around listening to help the Ct. with building social skills and healthy relationships. The Ct was (engaged/not engaged) in the activity.
Adult Strategy of the Week:
Active Listening: The art of listening in part entails the speaker feeling the listener is an active member in the exchange. There are several ways we can demonstrate active listening and both providing psychoeducation and modeling to our clients about this can be helpful for improving relational dynamics in their life. Below are some beginning strategies to show one is actively listening.
• Putting away distractions to help with focus
• Use verbal communication (e.g. hmmmm, I hear that)
• Use non-verbal communication (e.g. nods, eye contact)
• Ask open-ended questions to show interested
• Reflect what you are hearing (e.g. It sounds like, or that sounds…)
• Be present in that moment (e.g. in mind and body)
• Listening with an open mind (e.g. without judgement)
Sample Progress Note: The focus of this session was… The therapist provided psychoeducation on active listening and engaged the client in a listening exercise. Client reported that the exercise (seems helpful/seems challenging/etc), and they identified ways they can practice outside of session.
Modality Strategy of the Week:
Person-Centered Listening: To listen with genuineness involves our cognitive, emotional, and physical presence. When we listen genuinely, we are making sense of the words in our minds, engaging in empathic perspective taking, and showing we hear with attentiveness. Over time, it can help foster more meaningful and productive exchanges in one’s day. Here are a few ways to practice genuine listening:
• Listening with our ears, eyes, and heart.
• Listen to the words and try to picture what the speaker is saying.
• Standing in the other person’s shoes.
• Try to feel what the speaker is feeling.
• Practicing mirroring.
• Give feedback, reflect back, summarize.
Sample Progress Note: The focus of this session was to… The therapist lead the client in a genuine listening exercise to build social skills and healthy relationship patterns. The client reflected that they found this exercise to be (helpful/thought-provoking/challenging/relieving).
Mindfulness/Meditation of the Week:
Mindful Listening: Genuinely being present while listening to another involves being intentional and mindful in that moment. The HEAR strategy is easy to remember and integrates both a mindfulness practice and intentionality with the practice of listening:
1. HALT — Halt whatever you are doing and offer your full attention.
2. ENJOY — Enjoy a breath as you choose to receive whatever is being communicated to you—wanted or unwanted.
3. ASK — Ask yourself if you really know what they mean and if you don’t, ask for clarification. Instead of making assumptions, bring openness and curiosity to the interaction. You might be surprised at what you discover.
4. REFLECT — Reflect back to them what you heard. This tells them that you were really listening.
Sample Progress Note: The focus of the session was to (tailor based on tx plan). The therapist led the client in the HEAR mindfulness exercise to practice genuine listening. The client that they found this mindfulness activity to be (helpful/thought-provoking/boring/calming).
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