An effective, or active, listener is one who reflects on the other person ‘s message by making a brief statement of the essence of the message in his or her own words. Effective listening is a good way to prevent communication breakdowns
and misconstrued intentions, which are typically at the root of most ethical dilemmas. Most of us falsely assume that we are listening when we hear. Listening requires focused attention.
Empathy during communication assists the client in re vealing more about him or herself. It shows that the therapist is interested in listening. Being empathic requires that the therapist put him or herself in the client’s shoes and to under stand information from the client ‘s po nt of view. Listening with empathy requires the therapist to consider the client’s words, feelings, and intent. The client will feel a deeper sense of safety if the message is acknowledged. Empathetic listening is the highest form of listening. It takes the most work but reaps the greatest reward.
This chapter focuses on the therapeutic relationship. When developing an awareness and skill in managing this impor tant aspect of the therapeutic process, we must examine layers upon layers of practice. First, the important elements are reviewed; then communication skills and conflict resolution skills are strengthened. Professionalism, another im portant aspect of the process, reveals legal and ethical concerns and client confidentiality. Woven into professionalism is scope of practice, a code of ethics, and standards of practice.
Healthy relationships always involve healthy boundaries. Within this concept lie concern over neglect and abuse, conflicts of interests, dual relationships, and transference and countertransference . Crossing of boundaries can also involve sexual misconduct. Learning how to reduce its occurrence with professional behavior and managing risk are hallmarks of a professional.