Crisis Line Best Practices 02: Reflective Listening, what is it?

Published on February 19, 2020

Reflective listening is a communication style used by our Crisis Counselors to make sure that they’re paying full attention, and letting youth know that they hear what they’re saying. Our counselors use reflective listening in a few different ways, but they primarily focus on repeating, acknowledging, and summarizing.





It is a tool in reflective listening where our counselors repeat back what youth is calling in about.  This is usually a verbatim retelling of the caller’s story and is an effective strategy allowing the caller to know that we’re hearing every word they’re saying.  It is also a tool for our counselor to block out any distractions and put 100% focus on the caller.


Is getting the breadth of the story and repeating back the most important points to the youth’s story. This gives counselors the chance to help condense a caller’s 20-plus minute story into the most important parts while still allowing the caller to know that we’re listening to everything they’re telling us.

The major point of reflective listening is an important piece to what our counselors do for youth and families who call into the California Youth Crisis Line is to show reassurance to the caller that we’re understanding what is being said in the conversation and that we’re not distracted.

A lot of the times when a counselor reflects on a story being told to them, the caller can see it in a different way. Reflection also allows counselors to pick up on anything they may have missed in the conversation and figure out what the caller is saying. Reflective listening is also a way to keep a conversation on track and avoid tangential distractions.

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