Reflective skills introduction

Listening is not enough. Clients need you to respond so they know they are being heard and understood.

Reflective skills allow you to communicate your understanding of the client’s circumstances, concerns, issues or perspectives. They demonstrate understanding of the client’s internal frame of reference (how they see themselves and their circumstances).

Reflective skills are essential for building rapport and trust, and for encouraging exploration and preventing premature focusing or action. Reflective skills provide an excellent way of communicating empathy, understanding and acceptance. They allow you to ‘track’ the client’s thoughts and feelings, to check unobtrusively that you have understood, and to impose minimal direction from your frame of reference.

Reflecting basically involves you offering back to the client what they have said, but in your own words. There are three reflective skills:

  1. Restating
  2. Paraphrasing
  3. Summarising