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Examples are religious prayer where the one who prays hopes to be heard directly by a god, or the catholic tradition of confession with an anonymous listener later to offer forgiveness or good advice.

In common sense, listening is often considered a passive position in a conversation. One person speaks and the other keeps quiet. That is also the case in the world of therapy. Jackson (1992) has described the listening healer in the history of psychological practice. The therapist traditionally listens quietly and passively to the client who is the one who does the talking. The listener gathers information from the speaker and reaches an understanding from this. The active part of this process takes place in the head of the listener and the aim is primarily to gather clinical information and understanding.

4.2.1. Psychoanalysis The psychoanalytic therapist listens while the client is encouraged to talk ‘in free flow’, less out of regard for the value or interest of the story itself than the experience it highlights. The therapist will “have to listen attentively for the subtle clues which would indicate where the crucial hidden element was to be found” (Billig, 1999, s. 18). Talk is the medium for the cure. The therapist’s interest is about “the underlying structure, part science, part mythology, that purport to explain the experience, both the highlighted and those forgotten” (Parry, 1992, p. 37).

4.2.2. Client-Centred Therapy Carl Rogers developed the Client-Centered therapy (1951, p. 158) according to which the central hypothesis is that the relationship between client and therapist can move the former. This relationship is based on the therapist’s letting the client taking the lead, allowing her to talk about whatever she wants.

Rogers (1951) quotes a client who said, ”I listened to myself while talking. And in doing so I would say that I solved my own problems” (p. 40). Rogers understood this as caused by the attitude of the therapist and his responses that made it easier for the client to “listen to myself”. The client moves from experiencing himself as an unworthy, unacceptable and unloveable person to the realization that he is accepted, respected, and loved, in this limited relationship with the therapist. The word ‘loved’ is used here to mean to be deeply understood and deeply accepted. 18

Dialogical Action Research  

Dialogical Action Research - About therapeutic listening, creating space for voices to emerge and to be heard

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