listening in social work jobs

Social Work Jobs: 3 Secrets to Master Listening

Importance of Listening in Social Work Jobs

Many clients agree that the experience of being truly heard by another person provides deep healing. Along with the listening comes empathy and acceptance. Aside from feeling “heard and understood,” the client feels that there is someone who is interested and cares!

Many clients agree that the most important thing that they take from counseling is that they feel listened to and understood. Even when their therapist has helped them to clarify, focus, or facilitate change, attentive listening ranks as the most valuable part of the experience.

Listening makes the speaker feel worthy, appreciated and respected. By giving someone all of our attention, we can facilitate interaction on a deeper level, enabling the client to open more of the inner self. By paying close attention, therapists desiring to perfect their social work jobs facilitate more beneficial communication.

Passive Listening and Active Listening

Listening and hearing are two different things. Hearing involves perceiving the sound, is involuntary, and may just reflect auditory capabilities. Listening, in contrast, is much more active. In fact, listening usually requires more energy than speaking as it involves receiving and interpreting the information.

Passive Listening is not much different from hearing. We think that we are listening, but in fact, we are only letting this information go past our brain. When someone listens passively, there is no reaction to what is heard from the speaker; only listening quietly.

On the other hand, Active Listening is entirely different.  It is interactive and dynamic as the listener engages and reacts to the speaker in a holistic manner, whether orally, through facial expressions, or body language. Social work jobs demand active listening!

Keys to Active Listening

Paying Attention

It begins with paying attention! Paying attention means facing the client and maintaining eye contact. Once you have made eye contact, relax, you don’t have to stare at the client. Looking away now and then is fine. Just carry on like any other person. But be sure you remain attentive!

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Avoid the distractions of background activity and noise, or even your thoughts and feelings. You must eliminate, as much as possible, any distraction. Avoiding distractions including the natural dialogue that we all have running through our minds incessantly is critical to success in social work jobs.

Keep an open mind

Listening without judging doesn’t only mean refraining from voicing criticism. It includes avoiding internal judgment as well.  Once you indulge in these judgments you’ve compromised your effectiveness as a listener. Remember, the speaker’s words are expressing thoughts and feelings. You don’t know those thoughts and feelings, and the only way you will is by listening.

Try to feel what the speaker is feeling

If when your client speaks about sadness or pain, you allow yourself to feel sad as well or feel happy when something joyful is expressed, and convey those feelings through your facial expressions and words—then your effectiveness as a listener is enhanced. Empathy is the heart and soul of good listening and the key to success in social work jobs. It can be achieved only by putting yourself another’s place.


Reflective Listening is the process of restating what has been just said either by paraphrasing or summarizing, so the client understands that you have clearly heard what was said. It confirms that the therapist validates the client, through acknowledgment; inviting further expression.

Reflecting is probably the most critical listening technique in social work jobs. By interpreting what was said, it provides the client a chance for greater insight by hearing the feelings of the heart and the thoughts in the mind somewhat differently which enhances self-awareness and acknowledgment of the truth.

Do you hear? Then listen!

The infamous General George C. Marshall once said, "Deep listening is miraculous for both listener and speaker.”  Sue Patton Theole put it, “When someone receives us with open-hearted, non-judging, intensely interested listening, our spirits expand." Therapists are trained, highly focussed, deep listeners. They don’t just hear people’s words; they know how to listen to them!

mental health therapy jobs need character improvement

Mental Health Therapy Jobs Require Character Refinement

The Uniqueness of Mental Health Therapy Jobs

Those who have mental health therapy jobs enter into a unique relationship with their clients. Discounting personal relationships, where do you find an interaction so heavily focused on listening, feeling, and communicating with such care and precision? Bottom line: therapy is both a fantastic opportunity and an awesome responsibility requiring constant character refinement.

Promoting Modeling

A critical function for those in a mental health therapy job is to be a role model for the client. It 's hard to overestimate the impact upon the client in seeing how the therapist has successfully resolved her problems.  Therapy reaches beyond the boundary of the cognitive and enters into the realm of the experiential as the client is not only told what do, but sees firsthand how to do it.

This modeling requires far more than wisdom. Clinician occupying mental health therapy jobs must have undergone a journey yielding self-knowledge, aside from recognizing and accepting various aspects of her inner-self. Being such a role model creates an imperative for the therapist to refine her character regularly to maintain and maximize that influential position.

Building Trust

Due to the client’s vulnerability, trusting the therapist is nearly impossible unless the clinician is compassionate. As such, therapists must be warm, caring, and empathic. If you don’t genuinely care about people, then a mental health therapy job is not for you! Your client needs someone who is warm, who understands, and who cares. Words aren’t enough – the client needs to feel it.

That empathy and compassion needs to be continually refreshed and refined to remain genuine. Therapists who burn out emotionally not only lose their effectiveness, but also could become a liability for their clients. Their insensitivity and feigned concern can be toxic. On the other hand, the clinician whose heart is expanding becomes a more trusted, beloved and effective therapist.

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Enhancing Success

Generally speaking, those successful in mental health therapy jobs tend to have an optimistic outlook and a strong belief in the possibility of personal growth and change. However, that doesn’t mean that they underestimate the strength of the defense system.  While being sensitive to people’s fear of change, particularly at crucial points in the therapeutic process, they remain hopeful.

Hope is a powerful motivator, especially in the face of seemingly insurmountable problems.  Feeling that something is going to work is often critical to effective treatment. For a clinician to be successful, reality must be balanced with hope. As the therapist becomes a more hopeful person in general, sessions become infused with greater potential and promise.

The Fringe Benefit

Although knowledge, skills, and experience are crucial to success in a mental health therapy job, therapists must not ignore the need to refine their character constantly.  Neglecting to do so will let down your clients and may stymie your career.  On the other hand, undertaking this refinement will indeed transform your therapy.  You know what – it will transform you as well!

mistakes in your mental health therapy job

3 Mistakes Threatening Your Mental Health Therapy Job

How Much Do You Want Your Mental Health Therapy Job?

Did you ever stop to consider what could put your mental health therapy job at risk?  While it’s certainly no fun to discuss problems, sometimes this discussion helps us better define the positive. But then again, if you don’t mind that your career might be briefer and more problematic than you planned, don’t bother reading any further.


Experienced clinicians can drill down fairly quickly with a new client, recognize the core problem, its impact, and what changes will need to be done in order to effect lasting change.  However when a therapist is too quick to want to heal, the benefits of even the best diagnosis can be squandered.

The wise therapist needs to take a deep breath and permit the client to proceed at a self-defined comfortable pace.  The organic process of lasting change and transformation often takes a long time. You may not even be the therapist anymore by the time that sublime moment arrives. You need to accept that you are here at this moment to be helpful at this particular juncture.

Therapist/Client Imbalance

Those who are dedicated to their mental health therapy job believe that the thrust of it is to share “truths” with their clients. Some clients when they begin therapy actually want therapists who will give them all the answers. But ultimately even they don’t want to have someone else tell them what to do. They have come for deeper self-knowledge and to acquire the tools to heal.

Too much emphasis on discussing the therapist’s insights can cause another problem.  While understanding is essential, it is woefully insufficient.  Once understood, feelings need to be felt, and then talked about. This is what healing is all about!  Jumping into that discussion before the client “feels” the problem hijacks this critical process, leaving crucial work unfinished.

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Rescuing Your Client

But perhaps the most costly mistake stems from who you are.  Because most who are passionate about their mental health therapy job are generally kind and compassionate, their beautiful soul may actually handicap them in experiencing their client’s pain. Although you know you want your client to discuss the hurts, it is difficult to watch and be with the client as this happens, particularly when you feel connected. You want to rescue the client from this.

It is known that many occupying mental health therapy jobs are drawn to it because of their own pain. This is not to say that every clinician is inadvertently promoting suffering through misplaced compassion. Rather, it is essential that you, the therapist recognize who you are, how you ended up in this field, and just how it impacts us when you come to perform your acts of kindness.

Mistakes Can Be A Blessing?

Making a mistake, especially for those of us who were raised to fear them, can feel painful, embarrassing and overwhelming. But mistakes can be our greatest source of growth. Our mistakes and missteps provide powerful information and insight, if we’re willing to recognize them and resolve to do the work to correct them.

online speech therapy job

The 3 Secrets to Landing an Online Speech Therapy Job

Landing an online speech therapy job is a dream come true for an SLP!  This is true for several reasons. While not every change the Internet has wrought is beneficial, many therapies, including Speech Therapy are increasingly turning to the Internet, creating new possibilities for clients and clinicians alike.  But before you throw your hat into the ring, consider the following.

An Online Speech Therapy Job offers Convenience and Flexibility

Online speech therapy jobs offer many conveniences. There is no need to travel anywhere- a savings of time, money and personal wear and tear.  All you need is your laptop and headset.  Give the session in the most comfortable and convenient place you can find- even in your home. Once you are finished, you are finished.  Don't worry about the gas bill- it will never come!

For many SLPs scheduling can be a problem.  But with an online speech therapy job, your hours can be both convenient and flexible. Your scheduling conflicts will decline if they don't disappear altogether. And you be the one to decide if you will work part-time or full-time.

Professional Growth

With an online speech therapy job, you will have the opportunity to be your boss and grow your career while working from the comfort of your home.  Aside from the savings, eliminating travel will boost productivity as well.  This will afford you more to spend more time working with kids and less time in the car.  Another perk- managing caseload and workload becomes easier.

With the ever-expanding array of innovative web-based materials, an online speech therapy job will thrust you into the cutting-edge area of the field.  As manifest by the plethora of games and exercises already available, the creativity on the web seems constrained only by the limits of the human imagination.  And as the field continues to grow, you will continue to grow with it!

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Personal Satisfaction

Perhaps when all is said and done, an online speech therapy job offers an even more sublime satisfaction. Online speech therapy has many benefits for the client. The most widely recognized of those benefits is that services can be provided to clients who live in geographically constrained areas where conventional therapy methods are not available.

Also, online speech therapy offers those provided services convenience as well.  Due to its inherent flexibility, treatment can be provided in that setting which is most comfortable.  This can be practically anywhere.  While commonly used in schools or at home, ASHA's policy is that there are no real limitations to where online speech therapy can be used effectively as long as the services comply with professional, institutional, state, and federal guidelines.

So if you haven't yet tried your hand at an online speech therapy job, or even if you have, now is the time to make it a focus.  As the Internet continues to change our world at an ever-accelerating pace, the quality of your therapy need not change.  What you need is more opportunity!  An online speech therapy job may provide just that.