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CHAPTER THREE LISTENING SKILLS IN SOCIAL WORK PRACTICEThe Practice of Generalist Social Work (2nd ed.)
Key Ideas Good listening and communication skills are crucial to effective social work practice. There are specific listening approaches and skills that social workers need to master to develop trusting working relationships with clients. © 2011 Taylor & Francis
Attending Way in which social workers convey their interest in communicating with clients, which promotes exploration of ideas and problems Attending has verbal and nonverbal components Requires physical and psychological preparation on the part of the social worker © 2011 Taylor & Francis
Discovery-Oriented QuestionsInvite client to communicate goals for the relationship Helps social workers to put aside biases and pre- conceived notions about clients Helps put clients at ease to allow clients to guide the conversation © 2011 Taylor & Francis
Use of Silence Allowing moments of silence in the course of a conversation with a client can be very useful for clients and social workers. Silence can mean the client is … Thinking Confused Experiencing uncomfortable thoughts or feelings Working on developing trust Normally quiet Achieving closure © 2011 Taylor & Francis
Following Responses Immediate feedback that tells clients they’ve been heard and understood Social workers can use a variety of responses to communicate to clients that their message is getting through Verbal examples include, “If I heard you correctly…”; “Tell me more about…”; “Mm hmm” Nonverbal examples include nodding the head or other facial expressions that show understanding © 2011 Taylor & Francis
Paraphrasing A restatement, in the social workers’ own words, of the client’s relevant or main points— focuses on the content of a client’s message Helps clients know they’ve been heard accurately Helps clients to clarify their own thoughts Helps to focus on the content of a message © 2011 Taylor & Francis
Clarifying Asks for client feedback on a particular aspect of a message to clarify a point Like paraphrasing, but focuses in on a particular point in a message to check for meaning and accuracy in understanding Helps to ensure against making assumptions or generalizations about a message © 2011 Taylor & Francis
Summarizing A way of providing snapshots of topics discussed or managing a conversation to provide focus Helps to bring closure to a session or a particular topic Helps to confirm understanding of a message Helps to focus in on a particular topic or aspect of a conversation © 2011 Taylor & Francis
Closed- and Open-Ended QuestionsClosed-ended questions encourage clients to provide short, factual responses. Often used to collect information, get focus on a topic, or manage a conversation Open-ended questions encourage clients to expound on answers to provide some depth, detail, and context. Often used to get clients to explore or get more in- depth on a topic © 2011 Taylor & Francis
Indirect Questions Questions phrased as statements rather than questions Allow client to decide whether or not to respond Provide an alternative to questioning in the course of a conversation © 2011 Taylor & Francis
Use of Empathy Assists clients in identifying and labeling feelings and provides support for clients to explore feelings Basic empathy Inferred empathy Invitational empathy © 2011 Taylor & Francis
Common Communication PitfallsJargon Leading questions Excessive questioning Multiple questions Irrelevant questions © 2011 Taylor & Francis
Diversity ConsiderationsSocial workers need to consider elements of their own and clients’ cultures and how these elements impact the working relationship. Social workers can use supervision, education, self- exploration, and exploration with the client to learn more about diversity considerations and how they may influence the relationship between social worker and client. © 2011 Taylor & Francis
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