My brother-in-law has his PHD in counseling. He is a certified Christian counselor in Virginia. Recently he shared with me this bit of wisdom, “Sometimes a lay counselor can be just as much help to a troubled person than a professional counselor”.
He told me that the most important part of counseling is to develop listening skills. When someone is hurting, a person does not need someone who will judge his every word, but he needs someone with whom he can feel safe. He needs someone who will listen to him and reflect back to him what he is feeling.
Here are a few tips that my brother-in-law shared with me to help me sharpen my listening skills when counseling women.
- Recognize that listening is a skill; concentrate on developing your listening skill.
- Listen, even if you do not particularly like what the person is saying.
- Always look directly at the person who is talking and give full attention.
- Never interrupt a person when he is speaking.
- Withhold giving all judgments and opinions until you have heard all the facts.
- Encourage others by giving verbal feedback and asking questions. This helps provide you with more details of their problems.
- Focus on problems, not on people.
- Always give Scriptural solutions to problems and not personal opinions.