John's Blog

The Blog of John Gibson, PhD


The Art of Listening

Therapy is not easy to describe. There are many methods and techniques, and even these will vary to a degree depending on the personality of any given therapist. But in therapy, here are some things I routinely do with almost all clients/patients:

  • I listen. I use my head (knowledge), heart (compassion), and experience (wisdom).

  • I ask questions. Clarifying questions. Questions designed to make you think, go deep into the core of who you are and who you’d like to be.

  • I teach. The human psyche is delightfully complex. It’s a rich stew of defenses, feelings, motivations, beliefs, conflicts, anxieties, avoidances, values, temperament. The more you know about your own psychology, the better you become at adapting to the world. I strive to help you understand yourself more deeply. At the same time, we live in a social world, so I also strive to help you understand the key people in your life.

  • I provide support. We all need somebody to encourage us, believe in us, root for us. Never underestimate the power of having somebody in your camp. After all, human beings are hard-wired for social connection. We need the support of others to help us become our best.

  • I give feedback. I make observations, summaries, interpretations, and suggestions. Sometimes I try to get you to focus on what is (acceptance), other times I ask you to consider what could be (possibilities). Or maybe I’ll help you “connect the dots” of your life, pull things together in a new way. And unlike common advice, which tends to be universal and good for all of us, when I make a direct suggestion it’s usually quite specific to you and your circumstances.