The Gift of Listening

The Art of Listening

One friend, one person who is truly understanding, who takes the trouble to listen to us as we consider a problem, can change our whole outlook on the world."  — Dr. E. H. Mayo

Be a good listener. Your ears will never get you in trouble."    — Frank Tyger

The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them."   — Ralph Nichols


Jim Ayers, a former Walk-In  Clinic Director, posits that “Mental illness is not having voice.”  One implication is that to “have voice” there must be a listener--someone to be present, without judgment or condition, who is truly paying attention to what we say, not thinking about the next thing they will say. And it’s always best if they can just listen, not try to “solve” the problem for us.  Just listen.

When we have this in our lives, we truly have available to us one of the most affirming experiences there is:  someone to whom we can reveal our most intimate thoughts and secrets without fear, regret, or reprisal.  It might be our life partner, a close friend, a respected person in our network, even a stranger!  Whoever it is, we all need it.

As a friend of Walk-In, you know this is exactly what we do to support the people who come here.  No topic is verboten. When the client talks, we listen. 

Sadly, most of the people who come don’t have that “listener” in their life.  Walk-In counselors can play the role for a while, and as we journey with the client, we hope and encourage them to grow and find their own true “listener” separate from us.

In the book “Heart and Soul of Change”, the authors remind us that our clients seldom remember if they learned to use CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) or if they experienced Motivational Interviewing in their therapy sessions.  But they sure do remember if their counselor listened to them! 

So listening is what we do.