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Silence And Counseling

They stated that they often used silence to convey empathy, or to facilitate client reflection on certain topics. Many therapists reported that silences were also used to challenge the client to take responsibility, or to facilitate client expression of feelings. In some cases, the silence conveyed no message and was simply used for therapists to take time for themselves to think of what to say.

Factors That Allow Clients to Discern The Meaning of Messages Convey by Counselors' Use of Silence

What factors help clients to understand precisely what message a counselor is trying to convey when using silence? Lane, Koetting and Bishop (2002) feel that great care needs to be taken to ensure that clients do get the message intended. They note that the intervention of silence must be skillfully employed which is to say that counselors need to know what they are doing when it comes to using silence as a therapeutic technique. If the counselor is not skillful in using silences to convey whatever messages they wish silence to transmit, the likelihood is, according to the authors, that the silence could be interpreted as "distance, disinterest, and disengagement, leading to breaches in the trust and safety of the therapeutic alliance." (p. 1091).

Levitt (2001) states that part of a counselor's skill in knowing how to use silence to convey messages is understanding why and how the client uses it to communicate. In this regard, Levitt notes that clients will often use silence to signal disengagement, or emotionality, or for expressiveness' purposes. At other times, a silence will be merely part of the client's interactive process, or he/she might be pausing to remember something. In any case, in order to use silence properly, counselors are advised to understand how clients' use pauses to communicate and attempt to mimic these if they wish to convey messages through silence that are maximally likely to be understood by clients.


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Silence And Counseling. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 23:51, August 19, 2017, from
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