How to Practice Active Listening in Counselling? (+7 Basic Components)

The current blogpost will be based on the question “what is active listening in counseling pdf?”. We will discuss the importance of active listening in counseling and the purpose of using active listening in counseling. We will also discuss the various components of active listening in counseling.

What is active listening in counseling?

Active listening is a psychotherapeutic technique that is defined by listening actively to the client and paying attention to the verbal and non verbal cues of the client. The aim behind using active listening in counseling is to understand and comprehend the intent behind the client’s verbatim and ask questions for further clarification to prevent any biased interpretation.

The active listening in counseling suggests that a counselor :

  • Give the client their undivided attention
  • Listen to the client’s verbatim carefully
  • Give the client an active feedback to avoid misinterpretation
  • Clear any ambiguities by probing further with the client using various questions for further clarification
  • Understand the incongruencies and congruences between the client’s feelings and words
  • Accurately summarise the client’s message  
  • Paraphrase the client’s message
  • Challenge the client only after establishing a strong rapport with the client
  • Provide active feedback to the client based on their words and feelings
  • Maintain and encourage silences
  • Try to take note of the client’s body language and facial expressions

The active listening prevents the counselors from :

  • Interrupting the client while the client is sharing their feeling
  • Changing topics and forcing the client to switch from one topic to another
  • Talking about themselves and inducing results
  • Taking decisions based on any biased judgements about the client
  • Advising, reassuring, judging or criticising a client
  • Parroting the client’s words too often
  • Finishing the sentences of the client for the client
  • Being impatient with the client
  • Ignoring the client’s feelings in the situation
  • Pressurising the client to talk we=hen he gets silent
  • Pushing the client to get quiet and behave normally if the client starts crying
  • Avoid listening to the client for preparing yourself for the reply
  • Avoid jumping to conclusions

What are the basic components of active listening in counseling?

The basic components of the active listening skills in counseling sessions are the following :

  • Nonverbal cues
  • Verbal affirmations
  • Maintaining silence
  • Paraphrasing
  • Reflecting
  • Attending the client
  • Providing feedback
  • Avoiding judgements
  • Nonverbal cues

In counseling sessions, active listening skills demand the therapist to be a keen observer of the client’s body language, facial expressions, emotions, feelings, moods and the client’s energy. During active listening the counselor also maintains good eye contact with the client.

In order to connect better with the client, the counselor uses active listening to understand and identify the non verbal cues of the client that can later help the counselor infer connections while case formulation.

  • Verbal affirmations

Verbal affirmations are short 2-3 word phrases that are used by counselors in active listening to encourage the client to keep sharing whatever he or she is sharing with the counselor. While the client shares his experiences and feelings, the counselor “nods his head”, “says mmhmm”, “says ahan” or “says tell me more about it “ to encourage the client to share his experiences. This way the client gets the message that the counselor is actively involved and listening to the client.

  • Maintaining silence

Often it happens during a session that a client tends to become silent. While utilizing the active listening technique, in such a scenario, the client is not forced or pushed by the counselor to speak rather the client is given space and the counselor sits with the client maintaining the silence.

  • Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing is based on a strategy that intends to provide the counselor with an opportunity to better understand the client through active listening. In paraphrasing the counselor tends to convey the message of the client back to the client inorder to confirm if the counselor’s understanding of the client’s message is in accordance with the client’s intent.

  • Reflecting

Reflecting in active listening is related to the counselor providing the client with his understanding of the client’s feelings so that the client knows that he is being heard and valued during the sessions. For example the counselor might say “I can see that whenever you talk about your step mother you tend to get louder and more aggressive”.

  • Attending the client

Attending the client in counseling sessions through active listening is based on putting the client’s needs first. Attending the client suggests that the counselor empathizes with the client and understands the client’s needs well. Being there for the client by providing a listening ear without being judgemental is a key to active listening in counselling sessions.

  • Providing feedback

Providing active feedback is a main component of active listening in counseling sessions. Active and positive feedback appreciates and encourages the client to share more with the therapist.

Providing feedback also helps the counselor to clarify his understanding of the client’s intent.

  • Avoiding judgements

Activelistening is based on avoiding judgements and interruptions. While counseling the counselors are suggested not to draw inferences by jumping on to the conclusions and rather focus on every minor detail that might be helpful in case formulation.

What is the significance of active listening in counselling ?

Active listening in counseling is related to the following :

  • Active listening in counseling helps the client and the counselor to develop a strong connection
  • Through active listening in counseling sessions, the counselor’s are able to build a rapport with clients.
  • The counselors are able to empathize with client’s through active listening.
  • The active listening in a counseling session minimizes the should and musts in a counseling session and thus the clients feel well attended to and heard during the sessions.
  • Active listening provides the counselors with opportunities to  overcome the barriers in case formulation by probing the client further about any issues and clarifying their understanding of the client’s intent.
  • Active listening in counseling promotes an environment of mutual trust and respect during the counseling sessions.


The current blogpost was based on the question “What is active listening in counselling pdf?”. We discussed  various techniques of active listening used in counseling and also learned the significance of using active listening in counseling sessions.

Frequently asked questions : active listening in counselling pdf

What is active listening in Counselling?

Active listening in counseling is a therapeutic intervention that is the basic need for developing rapport with the client. It focuses on attending well with the client while focusing on the client’s verbal and non verbal language.

How does active listening help in Counselling?

Counselors use the active listening skills to better understand the clients and gain a deeper insight into their problems. Active listening helps the counselors to build rapport and form trust. In this way the client feels heard and understood. 

What are four features of active listening?

Following are the four features of active listening :

  • Neutral and nonjudgmental.
  • Patient (periods of silence are not “filled”)
  • Verbal and nonverbal feedback to show signs of listening (e.g., smiling, eye contact, leaning in, mirroring)
  • Asking questions.
  • Reflecting back what is said


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