At times, when working with a client, they will come in based on one complaint or condition, sometimes purely mental health related, at other times, also related and having an impact on their physical health. It is important as a therapist to listen with fully open ears, because your best laid plans for a session can come undone quickly based on what has occurred for a client in the last few days.
We must track not only what the client is telling us verbally, but non-verbally as well. An anxious phone call before a session might signal an event which the client won’t even mention during the phone call, but that I will find out once the session commences. A dropped subject may signal that the client didn’t feel as if they were fully heard. Sometimes, a client, either due to shame or self blame will avoid bringing to the table a topic that needs to be addressed in sessions.
This is the reason why, besides incorporating art therapy, I have felt it necessary to be trained in a body oriented therapy like Sensorimotor psychotherapy or a therapy where “body scans” play a key role in processing an event or trauma, like in EMDR. What comes across in our bodies, through feeling or sensation can tell us an awful lot about ourselves! I truly believe this and the latest research in neuroscience is proving it
Not only myself as the therapist “truly” listening with non-verbal “ears”, but the client growing as well in learning to discernment and self-awareness to listen to their own body signals and sensations, to get at the root core of what the emotions are that they are feeling. We run so much in this society on “automatic pilot” and exhibiting acting out, or reacting behaviors that we don’t understand at all why we are expressing ourselves as we do. This is where mindfulness, being aware of every moment, taking it in moment by moment, and slowing down to notice, is key in keeping ourselves grounded and acting in proportion to what we are facing from others and the world around us.
In therapy, it is a two-way dyad. the mindfulness, or awareness of it, on the therapist’s end will increase it on the client’s end. And to be “fully listening” is a big part of this.