These valuable resources will be well-studied and used. And marked with sticky notes!
I’m feeling excited about diving into these, though I still have to finish reading the previous books that I purchased… I buy more resources than I have time to go through them because I’m so busy, but I’ll get around to it. Do you do this, as well?
Just being a listener is powerful. Depending on the person who needs listened to and the situation, listening can be the only thing needed to help somebody. We’re bombarded with messages about listening and responding in a particular way. That we must follow A, B, and C or we aren’t being effective or that we might cause harm to the speaker. While we should aim to listen skillfully and to do no harm, we still can’t forget [or minimize] that just listening is impactful. We don’t always need to know what to say, that should relieve some pressure, all you have to do is listen and be present.
If you have a friend or family member who is experiencing issues and concerns, consider just listening to them first, rather than listening and offering up advice. While listening, practice being an active (non-distracted) listener, paying attention to nonverbal messages, listening to understand, making some eye contact, and being empathetic.
Keep in mind, that the speaker might not need an in-depth conversation. They may just need someone to listen and be there for them. The act of sharing out loud helps lift weight off of shoulders and problem solve. The brain processes differently while speaking out loud, as opposed to keeping your thoughts to yourself.
Ivy, mentor and mental health advocate, wrote about the power of listening. She says, “I have always emphasized that it is important even if you don’t agree with or understand how someone is feeling, to simply just listen to them and what they are going through. Simply asking someone if they are okay and letting them know you are there for them, is something so simple, yet so extremely powerful. Too often we feel like we won’t have the right words to say to people who reach out to us in need, so we keep our distance as a safer alternative. But you can make such a huge difference by just listening to someone’s story.”
Ivy continues, “When we listen to others, we let them know without even saying the words that their feelings are valid, that they themselves are valid and that we care about them. When we listen to other people’s story and allow them to be vulnerable and honest with us, the unexpected benefit is that we too can feel empowered to tell our own story and feel confident that someone will also listen to us when we are struggling.”
Listen to someone’s story and let them know that you’re there for them.
When you want to help, but feel like you can’t
Have you ever felt overwhelmed or stressed out by feeling like you need to help that someone who is coming to you about their problems? Maybe you have your own things that you’re going through and don’t have enough space to hold what they’re going through, as well. Perhaps, you’re feeling burnt out and need to practice self-care. You shouldn’t try to help another person when your glass is empty. Nothing comes out of an empty cup when you try to pour from it. [Even if your glass is full, practice daily self-care.] Whatever your situation, if you still want to be there for them, then just being a listener takes some pressure off of you. You can be present for the other person, but not hold as much responsibility in giving advice.
When to suggest that someone considers talking to a professional counselor
Know when to suggest that someone needs to go seek a mental health professional’s services. Topics like abuse, neglect, addiction, suicidal ideation, and suicide are red flags. Report abuse and neglect when you suspect something serious is going on, so that it can be looked into. Know the signs of suicide in order to prevent it and know what to do. Non-Judgmentally, ask open-ended questions to see what’s going on. Gently suggest that they speak with a mental health professional. Mention two or three benefits of speaking with a professional.
For information on lifeline contacts and resources, visit here.
Other times when a person should talk with a professional is when what they’re going through has impacted their life in such a way that they have difficulty functioning and maintaining a normal routine. Their job, family, social life, sleep, eating, major areas like that have been impacted. Especially, if this has been going on for a few weeks or longer, but really anyone, at anytime should go talk with a professional. It’s easier to fix something before it gets out of hand. This distress scale can help keep tabs on the impact that what you’re going through has on you.
Final words on just listening
Mindy Pierce, MA, LPC of Grow Counseling adds this to help us think further as listeners.
“Here are a few questions to help us think further about the powerful importance of listening and how well we listen:
• Who is the best listener you know?
• What makes that person a good listener?
• How do you feel when you are with that person?
• What can you learn from that person that would make you a better listener?
• What do you hesitate to talk to your partner about? Why?
• What happens to those withheld thoughts and feelings?
• What are the consequences of that withholding for you? For the relationship?
• What conversations would you like to go differently?
• If people think you aren’t listening to them, what will they assume it means? What will this lead to?
The next time something is really bothering you, notice if something holds you back from sharing that with someone. What fears or expectations do you have about what would happen if you shared? And if you do share, what happens?”
The rest of Mindy’s thoughtful article can be found here.
Being present and listening can be helpful to someone. Your friend or family member might just need someone to talk to, so they can empty part of what they’re carrying, a way to problem solve, or process what they’re going through. As a listener, a response isn’t always required. Be there for someone by listening to their story and letting them know that you care. Don’t underestimate the power of just listening, it’s helpful.
Introduce myself and give a little information on my credentials.
Check your valid photo ID to verify that you are who you say you are.
Review the In Case of Emergency plan. I’ll also review who your emergency contact is with you and jot down your current location address.
Review the housekeeping paperwork that you completed, such as the Notice of Privacy Practices and Informed Consents.
Briefly talk about the SimplePractice platform and what’s available to you through your client portal.
I’ll answer any questions that you may have.
Review the Intake Questionnaire that you completed.
Collaborate on the Treatment Plan, covering issues or symptoms that you’d like to work on, goals and outcomes, and steps towards those goals and managing symptoms.
Discuss anything you could work on in between the initial session and the second session. If appropriate, I’ll probably suggest that you have a private journal or notebook to take notes during sessions and to use throughout the week.
Answer any questions that you may have.
Verify your current location address.
Check-in. Talk about how your week was and how you’re doing.
If we need to, review the Treatment Plan.
Talk about things going on and work towards your goals that reflect the Treatment Plan. How we work towards your goals is 100% unique to you. We will also identify your strengths and interests and where we can use them.
Discuss what you could work on over the next week.
Telemental health has actually been around for several years.
• Telemental health is only for the underserved and those who live in rural areas.
Anyone can use telemental health. It saves travel time, gas money, and can more easily fit into a busy schedule.
• You miss out on nonverbal cues with telemental health.
During video chat, nonverbal cues can still be picked up. Proper room lighting, camera placement, and having a strong internet / wifi connection play an important role in this. The mental health professional will let you know if they can’t see you.
• It takes longer to develop rapport with telemental health.
It takes the same amount of time as in-office sessions to develop rapport, keeping in mind that the counselor should be a good fit to work with.
• Telemental health is not secure.
Telemental health can be set up HIPAA compliant and secure to the standard of ethics. There are multiple safeguards in place.
What National Certified Counselor (NCC) Means to Potential Clients
Counselors can have multiple letters or credentials behind their name. One that most people are familiar with is Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). Counselors can be board certified, have a certificate in a specialty (addiction, marriage and family therapy, anxiety…) and treatment method (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution-Focus Brief Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy…).
The Counselor is Committed
The NCC is voluntary, it is not required to practice (licensure is a requirement), but it is an additional step that counselors can take to display and ensure the high level of service that they provide their clients. Counselors who have NCC are dedicated to the counseling profession.
The counselor voluntarily submits to an established conduct review conducted by professionals in counseling
Counselors work with sensitive health information. If a client or somebody has a question about their actions, they may follow an established process to obtain a neutral review of their concern.
The counselor is required to remain current with developments in the profession
Continuing education that is approved by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) is required in order to maintain the NCC. This ensures that the counselor is current with all areas of the profession.
The counselor may have areas of specialties
The counselor demonstrates expertise with NBCC specialty certifications. These include, Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC), Master Addictions Counselor (MAC) and National Certified School Counselor (NCSC). Certifications reflect that they have met national standards for a specialty practice, with additional education and experience and a specialty examination.