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We need to talk

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Counselling and psychotherapy training institute TA East will be hosting a listening post at South Woodford Library this summer. Victoria Baskervill explains what it means to be truly listened to.

We all need to talk, be listened to and be in contact with each other, to thrive in this world.

“Listening is about being present, not just about being quiet.” Krista Tippett, Becoming Wise, 2016.

In contemporary society, we often don’t have or take the time to stop and listen to the birds sing, to hear children’s laughter, or to look up from our phones and really listen and hear each other.

There have been moments in both my personal and professional life which I can pinpoint being truly listened to, heard and understood. Sometimes, these have been chance meetings with strangers, yet I have come away feeling ‘met’.

Carl Rogers, a pioneer of humanistic theory, explored ‘listening’ in his early work. From his findings, he surmised that when we truly listen, we hear a deeper narrative underneath. He talked passionately about the power of listening as a way of understanding relational dynamics with self and others, and a way to make personal change.

As a psychotherapist, I have worked with many clients who don’t feel listened to, resulting in low self-esteem and negative patterns. Yet, I have been deeply moved by the power of listening in the consulting room, resulting in a profound quality of relationship.

Rogers described a special way of being and listening, that to truly listen and hear the other, we need to enter into the other’s world. He coined this idea as ‘empathy’, the ability to share someone else’s feelings or experiences by imagining what it would be like to be in that person’s situation; a theory that has been embraced by many other psychotherapists.

TA East is a counselling and psychotherapy training institute. The training is delivered in the spirit that all people are OK, everyone has the capacity to reach their full potential and all people can change. And we are now inviting the Redbridge community to come along and be listened to, heard and understood by another, demonstrating the value of empathy and being listened to. Sessions will last for 30 minutes. These will not be counselling sessions, though they will be facilitated by trained and trainee counsellors and psychotherapists.

“People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don’t find myself saying ‘soften the orange a bit on the right-hand corner’. I don’t try to control a sunset, I watch it in awe as it evolves.” Carl Rogers, 1969.

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Victoria Baskerville
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