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C. Active Listening

Active Listening is the process of listening attentively while someone else speaks, paraphrasing and reflecting back what is said, and with holding judgment and advice.

As clinicians, Peer Supporters may be inclined to “diagnose” or “fix” the Peer. However, this instinct should be subdued during the Peer Support discussion, and Peer Supporters should focus rather on Active Listening.

While Active Listening is one of the main components of Peer Support, this step can be the most difficult. If you find conversation is too difficult for the Peer, focus on informational tools you can share and review how the Peer can find help when he/she is ready.

Below is a list of Do’s and Don’ts for Peer Supporters while engaging in Active Listening:

Do:Don’t:
✔ Let Peer guide the conversation
✔ Allow for silence
✔ Ask open-ended questions, like “Tell me more?”
✔ Ask clarifying questions
✔ Encourage Peer to elaborate
✔ Reframe what Peer has said
✔ Normalize Peer’s feelings
✔ Empathize
✔ Share a short, relevant personal story
✔ Highlight Peer’s virtues/merits
✔ Maintain eye contact
✔ Be aware of body language
✖ Judge Peer’s actions/feelings
✖ Determine accuracy of facts
✖ Investigate the case
✖ Push for more details
✖ Interrupt
✖ Dominate the conversation
✖ Launch into your own personal story
✖ Minimize Peer’s feelings
✖ Try to solve Peer’s problems
✖ Psychoanalyze
✖ Offer false hope
✖ Assume your experience or reactions
are the same

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