• Paraphrasing is one of the competent skills of how you show understanding in active listening.
  • Repeating back the essence of a client’s words and thoughts using the client’s main words: the purpose is to check on the clarity of counselor’s understanding
  • Paraphrasing must be decided upon some goals (reinforce, clarify, highlight, double-check, etc.).
  • The function of paraphrasing is that it acts a promoter for discussion
  • Focusing only on the verbal content of client’s messages is the first step in learning to respond to their voice, body and verbal messages
  • Excludes understanding of their voices and body messages.
  • Paraphrasing means rewording (not the same words) speakers’ verbal utterances. It is important that you paraphrase because you drive people crazy if you parrot them. However, occasionally same words can be used.
theory and practice of counseling  LISTENING & UNDERSTANDING SKILLS Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing: Examples

Using same words:

You can use the same words.

  • Client: I feel terrible
  • Counselor: You feel terrible.
  • Client: I heard a noise.
  • Counselor: A noise?

Staying close to the kind of language:

You try to stay close to the kind of language they use. Here are a few basic examples.

  • Client: I’m finding swallowing difficult.
  • Speech therapist: You’re having trouble swallowing.

Tips for Paraphrasing:

A good paraphrase can provide mirror reflections that are clearer and more to the point than original

statements. If so, clients may show appreciation with comments such as “That’s right”. Tip for paraphrasing is to start your responses with the personal pronoun ‘you’ to indicate that you reflect clients’ internal viewpoints. Another tip is to slow your speech rate down to give you more time to think. You need a good memory and a good command of vocabulary to paraphrase well. Confidence and fluency in the skill require much practice.

Reflect Feelings

The therapist hears not only what is in the words; he hears what the words do not say. He listens with the “third ear” (Reik, 1952, p. 144)

Reflect Feelings

• Skilled counselors are very sharp at picking up clients’ feelings.

Active listening entails showing understanding by tuning into client’s viewpoint and reflecting, with your body and voice messages, on the feelings of the client.

  • Reflecting feelings is both similar to yet different from paraphrasing. Both are concerned with the meaning of the words. However, paraphrasing is simple mirroring, whereas reflecting is concerned with feelings and emotions..
  • Clients may send voice and body messages that qualify or negate verbal messages. Reflecting feelings usually involves paraphrasing. However, the language of feelings is not words. Feelings are bodily sensations which may then have word labels attached to them. Consequently, paraphrasing alone has distinct limitations. For example, clients may send voice and body messages that qualify or negate verbal messages. Client says ‘I’m OK, one yet speaks softly and has tearful eyes, A good reflection of feelings picks up these other messages as well. This implies that reflecting feelings entails responding to clients’ music and not just to their words. To do this, counselor responses incorporate appropriate voice and body messages.

Distinction between Thoughts & Feelings

  • Thought: ‘I feel that equality between the sexes is essential,’ describes a thought.
  • Feeling: ‘I feel angry when I see sex discrimination,’ labels a feeling.

Example: “I feel like going home” is not an emotion.

Receiver & Sender Skills in Reflection

  • Receiver skills
  1. Understanding clients’ verbal and nonverbal messages.
  2. Taking into account the context of clients’ messages.
  3. Sensing the surface and underlying meanings of clients’ messages.
  • Sender skills
  1. Responding in ways that pick up clients’ feeling words and phrases.
  2. Rewording feelings appropriately, using expressive rather than wooden language.
  3. Using voice and body messages that significantly neither add to nor subtract from the emotions conveyed.
  4. Checking the accuracy of your understanding.

Picking up Feeling Words and Phrases

  • Carkhuff (1980) recommends use of your own experiences in identifying feelings and emotions.
  • He recommends that one should get a general impression of what the client is expressing. Then the counselor can use his experiences to understand client’s feelings. The counselor needs to know different feelings associated with one condition, e.g., if client is feeling lonely, how do you feel when lonely, ask yourself. Do you feel sad, dejected, perhaps even scared, etc.
  • Mirror the intensity of client’s feelings:
  • Mirror the intensity of clients’ feelings words in reflections. For example. Ali has just had a negative experience about which he might feel ‘devastated’ (strong intensity), ‘upset’ (moderate intensity) or ‘slightly upset’ (weak intensity). You may err on the side of either adding or subtracting intensity.

Mixed feelings:

  • Sometimes clients may have varying degrees of mixed feelings, ranging from simple opposites (for instance, happy/sad) to more complex combinations (for instance, hurt/angry). Good reflections pick up all key elements of feelings messages.

For instance:

Client: I’m sorry, but relieved not to have got the promotion. Counselor: You’re upset, but feel a weight off your shoulders at not being promoted. Client: I both like being with her. Yet also like being on my own. Counselor: You appreciate her companionship, but enjoy your own personal space too.

Assist labeling of feelings:

  • Sometimes counselors assist clients in finding the right feelings words. Here reflecting feelings go beyond reflecting feelings to helping choose feelings words that resonate for them.


I don’t quite know how to express my reaction to losing my job … possibly angry … upset, that’s not

quite it… bewildered. Counsellor Hurt, anxious, confused, devastated … are any of those words appropriate? Client: Devastated, that’s what I really feel.

Categories of Feelings: Anger

A range of options regarding the use of appropriate words should be available to counselors seeking to identify feelings in the helpee. The words can be changed in intensity with the context in which they are used.

Mild Feeling: Annoyed, bothered, irritated.

Moderate Feeling: Disgusted, Harassed, Mad, Provoked, Put upon, resentful, spiteful.

Intense Feeling: Angry, boiled, burned, contempt, enraged, fuming, furious, hot, infuriated, smoldering, steamed.

Categories of Feelings: Fear

Mild Feeling: Apprehensive, concerned, tense, tight, uneasy.

Moderate Feeling: Afraid, alarmed, anxious, fearful, frightened, shock, threatened, worried.

Intense Feeling: Desperate, overwhelmed, panicky, petrified, scared, terrified, tortured.

Categories of Feelings: Happiness

Mild Feeling:

Amused, comfortable, glad, pleased, relieved.

Moderate Feeling: Delighted, eager, happy, joyful, up.

Intense Feeling: Bursting, ecstatic, elated, enthralled, excited, terrific, thrilled.

Categories of Feelings: Sadness

Mild Feeling: Apathetic, bored, confused, disappointed, discontented, mixed up, resigned, unsure, low

Moderate Feeling: Abandoned, discouraged, distressed, down, drained, empty, hurt, lonely, lost, sad, unhappy, weighted

Intense Feeling: Anguished, crushed, deadened, depressed, despairing, helpless, humiliated, hopeless, miserable, overwhelmed, smothered, tortured

Activity: Write down Urdu words relevant to different feelings with varying intensity.

Summarizing Skills

Summaries are brief statements of longer excerpts from counseling sessions. Summaries fulfill the following purpose:

  • Used to pull together material in a counseling session over a period of time.
  • Counselor generally summarizes selected key concepts
  • Is helpful:
  • To keep a client moving
  • To add more data to what already has already been given
  • To provide structure to a causal random conversation

Types of summaries

The following are different types of summaries that a counselor can use in his sessions:

• Basic reflection summary:

Basic reflection summaries can take place at any stage of counseling. They are short summaries that counselorsmake after clients have spoken for more than a few sentences. Such summaries pull together the main feelings


You feel very unhappy with your boss. You think he does not appreciate you and manipulatespeople all the time to get his way. Your relationship has got to the point where you speak to each other onlywhen absolutely necessary.

  • Summarizing at the end of a session
  • Summarizing at the end of several sessions
  • Summarizing at the end of counseling process before termination
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