Attending and listening

Authored by: Shane M. Murphy , Annemarie I. Murphy

Routledge Handbook of Applied Sport Psychology

Print publication date:  October  2010
Online publication date:  October  2010

Print ISBN: 9780415484633
eBook ISBN: 9780203851043
Adobe ISBN: 9781136966675

10.4324/9780203851043.ch2

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Abstract

The foundation of most training programs for mental health practitioners is the process of becoming a good listener. All approaches to counseling emphasize the critical importance of listening and attending to the client. These skills are not easy to develop. Many graduate counseling training programs devote two years or more to the development of basic counseling skills. Yet listening and attending skills are infrequently discussed in sport psychology. Research in our field almost never focuses directly on the basic skill of listening, although advanced skills such as goal-setting and imagery-training have been studied extensively. Despite the limited attention in the literature on becoming a good listener, experts in sport psychology attest to the high degree of importance they attach to this process. As Orlick (1989) stated:

First I start with the athletes’ needs … I really listen to athletes. I listen intently. I focus totally on what they are saying and really draw from their experiences. I encourage them to reflect upon and continue to discover what works best for them in different circumstances.

(p. 362) The core of this chapter is the presentation and discussion of the microskills approach to counseling, originally developed at Colorado State University in the late 1960s (Ivey, Normington, Miller, Morrill, & Haase, 1968). As elaborated over the years, especially by Allen Ivey (Ivey, Ivey, & Zalaquett, 2010), the microskills model identifies a hierarchy of skills, beginning with basic building blocks such as ethics, competence and wellness, and culminating in the ability to integrate skills from theories of psychology into a personal counseling style. In this chapter, we focus on the basic skills of attending the nonverbal and body language attributes that signal a readiness to listen, and listening, which can be further broken down into such basic skills as questioning, paraphrasing, and reflecting. This approach has been influential in the training of counselors, psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists, and others in the helping professions (Egan, 2007a). These microskills are critical to effective sport psychology consulting.

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