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How to Find Free Couple’s Counseling

You may be looking for free counseling for couples for a variety of reasons. Fortunately, there’s a variety of options available. When you use the following guidelines, you can learn how to find free couple’s counseling to help you achieve your goals.

Check With Non-Profit Organizations

If you and your significant other have an interest in seeking counseling, you may be able to find it for free through non-profit organizations. A variety of non-profit organizations available through state agencies can help with marriage and couple’s counseling services. You may also be able to locate a state agency that can help place you with free couple’s counseling at a non-profit.

Visit Your Local Church

Particularly if you already have regular contact with members or attend services there, visiting your local church may be a good option. Under some circumstances, you may find they offer free marriage and couple’s counseling services. If clergy members aren’t available, you may be able to receive a referral for a member of the church who provides these services for free or at a low cost. Remember that many churches advocate for married couples to stay together and not divorce. That may be one of the church program’s ultimate goal no matter the circumstances.

Research Online Couple’s Counseling

It’s possible for you to find online couple’s and marriage counseling services for free, too. A variety of websites offer these services in real time, and you may also be able to access pre-recorded video resource sessions. Be sure to research these websites thoroughly beforehand, though, to ensure that they’re not trying to sell you something at a later date. Ideally they should be operating as non-profits that receive grant funding or have sponsorships or investors. If possible, you might choose to combine traditional and online counseling as a means of receiving additional advice and support.

Use Forums and Chatrooms

Forums and chat rooms can be excellent ways for couples to receive free counseling from therapists who are working for non-profits or in “pro bono” capacities. You and your significant other may be able to have discussions individually or with support groups. You’ll also be able to find forums and chat rooms where couples can discuss similar experiences with their peers. These tools can be useful because they can help couples shed new light on their circumstances.

Look Up Couple’s Counseling in Your Area

When you look up couple’s counseling in your area, you may also come across some choices. These options can potentially include free and low-cost options. When calling offices, explain your financial situation and why you’re seeking free or low-cost options. They’ll explain their payment scales, the insurance they accept and if free services are available. Some offices may be able to refer you to other providers if they don’t offer free services.


the importance of paraphrasing in counselling

the importance of paraphrasing in counselling


What is Paraphrasing?

Paraphrasing is repeating back your understanding of the material that has been brought by the client in your own words. A paraphrase reflects the essence of what has been said.

We all use paraphrasing in our everyday lives. If you look at your studies to become a counsellor or psychotherapist, you paraphrase in class. Maybe your lecturer brings a body of work, and you list and make notes: you’re paraphrasing as you distil this down to what you feel is important.

The Power of Paraphrasing:

  • The speaker feels heard.
  • Helps the listener to adjust frame of reference.
  • Highlights areas of high importance.
  • Acts as an invite to explore deeper.
  • Can indicate an end to the current discussion.

How Paraphrasing Builds Empathy

How does paraphrasing affect the client-counsellor relationship? First of all, it helps the client to feel both heard and understood. The client brings their material, daring to share that with you, and you show that you’re listening by giving them a little portion of that back – the part that feels the most important. You paraphrase it down. If you do that accurately and correctly, and it matches where the client is, the client is going to recognise that and feel heard: ‘Finally, somebody is really listening, really understanding what it is that I am bringing.’

This keys right into empathy, because it’s about building that empathic relationship with the client – and empathy is not a one-way transaction. Carl Rogers (1959, pp. 210-211) defines ‘empathy’ as the ability to ‘perceive the internal frame of reference of another with accuracy and with the emotional components and meanings which pertain thereto as if one were the person, but without ever losing the “as if” conditions’. In other words, we walk in somebody’s shoes as if their reality is our own – but of course it’s not our reality, and that’s where the ‘as if’ comes in. I’ve heard this rather aptly described as ‘walking in the client’s shoes, but keeping our socks on’!

Empathy is a two-way transaction – it’s not enough for us to be 100% in the client’s frame of reference and understanding their true feelings; the client must also perceive that we understand. When the client feels at some level that they have been understood, then the empathy circle is complete.

For example, if you watch a TV programme in which somebody achieves something that is really spectacular, you may find yourself moved for this person. You’re almost there with them on this journey, and as they’re receiving their award or their adulation, and the audience is clapping for what they’ve done, you may even be moved to tears. But the person on the TV cannot perceive your reaction – the empathy is empty, because it’s one-way.

So empathy is effective only if your client feels heard and understood – i.e. they sense that empathic connection. Using paraphrasing is a way of completing the empathy circle – a way of letting them know that we see and hear them.

Other Benefits of Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing also highlights issues by stating them more concisely. This is focusing down: it invites the client to go and delve deeper into part of what they have said. We can also use paraphrasing to check out the accuracy of our perception as a counsellor.

Below is an example of my use of paraphrasing to clarify my understanding of what was brought. This shows how paraphrasing affects the therapeutic relationship; because the paraphrase fits well for the client, she feels heard and understood. As this happens, the material deepens.

I really have a battle with doing things for the impression that others will have of me, or the approval that I will get from other people for what it is that I do. So much so that I will very often override myself, my family, so that I can gain the acceptance, I guess, of other people, whether friends, family or clients in a work situation. I will always favour what the action would be that would gain that acceptance, that would not bring up any sort of confrontation or maybe have a conflict situation arise from it.

So, I guess, I’m eager to please, wanting to make sure that all things are well and smooth – and that I’m liked and accepted with whatever the transaction or situation may be.


As you’re saying that, it really feels like a lot of hard work. A lot of hard work, pre-empting whatever it is that they would have expected of you, and then ‘sacrificing’, I guess, is a word that came up for me – sacrificing your own wants/needs to be able to meet what you perceive is expected of you. Have I understood that correctly?

Yeah, the word ‘sacrifice’ really captures the feeling that comes up for me when I sort of reflect and look over that kind of situation. So often, I will sacrifice my own wants and my own desires…

In this example, the client really resonated with the word ‘sacrifice’, which the counsellor introduced as a paraphrase; she really felt understood. And it’s interesting to note that throughout the rest of this stimulated session, the word ‘sacrifice’ became almost a theme.

Another paraphrase in this example was ‘hard work’. Although the client hadn’t used this phrase herself, she was presenting visually as weighed down. Her shoulders looked heavy as she was bringing the material. So the counsellor was paraphrasing, not only the words of the narrative, but digging deeper, looking for the feelings and paraphrasing the whole presence of that client within that relationship.

Listening for ‘the Music behind the Words’

Here is another example of paraphrasing, from the same skills session. Try to see if you can hear, as Rogers would put it, ‘the music behind the words’, where the counsellor looks deeper than just the words the client is bringing, paraphrasing back their whole being.

Out of my own will or my own free choice, I would put that aside and favour what would be accepted – or what I think someone else would rather I do. And sometimes it’s hard. It leaves me with a situation of not knowing if they actually really realise what it is that I sacrificed, that I’ve given up, so that it can fall into what I think they would prefer in that situation.

It feels confusing to you in that situation of whether they even perceive what it is that you are sacrificing, what you’re giving up. That it almost feels like you’re giving up part of yourself to match what you think they may want or need from you. And I kind of got the feeling, as you were saying that you wonder if they even see that.

Yeah. As I was sort of verbalizing and talking through that, I actually realised that even within that sacrifice, it’s all my perception of what I think they might want me to do. And just saying that is actually a bit ridiculous. Because how am I to know what it is that they want or need to do? So here I am – disregarding my own desires, for lack of a better word – to do something I assume someone else would want me to do instead.

I thought it was really interesting that this client started off in what felt to me like an external locus of evaluation. She was confused, and wondering whether the people she refers to understood what she was giving up to meet their perceived expectations. Immediately after the counsellor’s paraphrase, this client experienced a moment of movement from an external to an internal locus of evaluation, where she realised it was all about her own perceptions and responsibility. In this way, she went from being powerless to having the power to change this situation.

Next Steps in Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing is so much more than just repeating the client’s words back to them using your own words. Although it might feel very simplistic – and there’s often a tendency to paraphrase the narrative/story that the client brings, rather than their feelings/process – there’s so much more to it than that and so much deeper that we can go. There’s real power in paraphrasing.

I suggest that you:

  • Practice active listening and paraphrasing in your day-to-day life.
  • Practice paraphrasing in your own stimulated skills sessions.
  • Try to look for the full person when paraphrasing, e.g. not just the client’s words, but also their body language, facial expressions, and way of being within the counselling relationship.
  • Record these sessions (with your peer’s consent) and listen back to them.
  • Speak to your peers about paraphrasing.
  • Evaluate each other’s skills and explore how you might paraphrase more effectively.
  • Look whether you’re getting empathic connection within your paraphrasing.
  • Search out moments of movement when you paraphrase.
  • Ask how paraphrasing affects both the client and you, as a counsellor.

Paraphrasing is definitely something that should be debated. I hope that this chapter will encourage you to go out there with a new passion for – and a new way of looking at – paraphrasing!

Alternatives to Questions

What else can we use when we’re not sure what exactly a client means? For example, if a client was speaking about his brother and father, he might say: ‘I really struggle with my brother and my father. They don’t get on, and at times he makes me so angry.’ Who does the client mean by ‘he’: the brother or the father? Not knowing who makes him angry means I cannot be fully within the client’s frame of reference.

I could ask: ‘Sorry, just so I can understand, who it is that you’re angry at – your father or your brother?’ This risks ripping the client out of that emotion (the anger). Instead, we could use reflection: ‘He makes you so angry.’ This invites the client to expand on what he has said. He might say: ‘Yes, ever since I was a young boy, my dad was always…’ In this case, I didn’t need to ask a question – we’re still in the feelings, and I’ve got what I needed in order to be fully in the client’s frame of reference.

Of course, the client might not reveal the information I need in his answer – for example, if he responded to my reflection: ‘He does. He makes me really angry – in fact, so angry that I don’t know what to do about it anymore.’ In that case, I would still need to put in a question: ‘Is this your dad or your brother that you’re referring to?’

Rogers, C, 1959. ‘A Theory of Therapy, Personallity, and Interpersonal Relations, as Developed in the Client-Centered Framework’, in S Koch (ed.), Psychology: A Study of a Science (Vol.3), New York: McGraw-Hill, 184-256.

the importance of paraphrasing in counselling

Paraphrasing in Counselling

Table of Contents

In essence, paraphrasing is a micro skill that allows counselors to create an authentic bond with their clients  Together with encouraging and summarizing, paraphrasing plays a crucial role in therapeutic communication, making the client feel understood and listened to.  In other words, paraphrasing in counseling is what makes the client say, “ Finally, someone who understands what I’m going through.” Without this essential ingredient, counseling sessions would be nothing more than dull and impersonal exchanges of ideas.

What is the difference between reflecting and paraphrasing in Counseling?

Paraphrasing and reflecting are close synonyms for most people, both playing a crucial role in any form of communication.

Although paraphrasing and reflecting are fundamental counseling communication skills [1], these two processes can have slightly different connotations in a therapeutic context.

In essence, reflecting is like putting a mirror in front of your clients, helping them gain a better sense of the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors they experienced in a situation that has meaning for them.

Of course, this does not mean you have to parrot their message; simply highlight the link between different ideas and emotions and how one influences the other.

When reflecting, it is vital to match the client’s tone and even body language so that he/she knows that you’ve received the message and the feelings that accompany his/her story.

On the other hand, paraphrasing is about capturing the essence of their story with a brief statement that emphasizes the underlying emotional vibe.

This technique is particularly useful when clients know how ideas and emotions can merge to create a subjective experience, but you want them to feel understood and listened to.

In a way, we could argue that paraphrasing is a brief version of reflecting.

Let’s look at a brief example of paraphrasing in counseling:

Client: I had a huge fight with Andrew last night. At some point, he stormed out and didn’t come back ‘til morning. I tried calling him all night, but his phone was switched off. I was worried sick and thought he did something stupid. This whole thing was like a nightmare that I could not wake up from.

Therapist : It seems this unpleasant event has put you through a lot of fear and anxiety.

Now let’s take a look at reflecting:

Therapist : I can only imagine how terrifying it must have felt to see your partner storm out after a huge fight without telling you where he is going or when he’ll be back.

As you can see, both processes require active listening. But while paraphrasing is a short statement that highlights the emotional tone of the situation, a reflective response captures “the vibe” of the story, along with other essential details.

How do you paraphrase?

Start by listening.

Whether the purpose is to paraphrase or reflect, listening is always the first step.

Through active listening, counselors gain a better sense of what their clients have experienced in a particular situation. Active listening means looking beyond the surface and trying to connect with the client on an emotional level.

To achieve this level of emotional depth, counselors listen with both their ears and their hearts. That means putting themselves in their clients’ shoes and zeroing in on the emotional aspect of the experience.

Focus on feelings and thoughts rather than circumstances

When we listen to another person’s story, the most visible aspects are related to the actual events that he or she has gone through.

But details like names, dates, locations, or other circumstantial issues are less relevant than how the person interpreted and consequently felt in a particular situation.

When it comes to paraphrasing, counselors are trained to look beyond circumstances and identify why a client has chosen to talk about a particular event.

In almost every case, the reason is a set of emotional experiences.

Capture the essence of the message

Although people can experience a wide range of emotions in a given situation or context, there’s always an underlying feeling that defines how they react.

That underlying emotional vibe is the “golden nugget” that counselors are looking to capture and express through paraphrasing.

If done right, paraphrasing in counseling creates an emotional bridge that sets the foundation for authentic and meaningful interactions. This will encourage clients to open up and share their struggles.

Offer a brief version of what has been said

The last step is providing a concise version that highlights the emotional tone of the story.

Once this message reaches the client, it creates a sense of understanding that builds trust and authentic connection.

Long story short, paraphrasing is a valuable tool for cultivating empathy and facilitating therapeutic change.

How does paraphrasing help in communication?

Cultivating clarity (on both sides).

Any form of communication, whether it’s a therapeutic process, a negotiation, or a casual chat between friends, involves exchanging ideas.

And when people exchange ideas and opinions, there’s always the risk of confusion and misunderstanding.

By paraphrasing what the other person has shared, not only that you cultivate empathy, but you also let him/her know that the message has been received and understood correctly.

Research indicates that paraphrasing in counseling helps clients clarify their issues. [2] The more clients understand the inner-workings of their problems, the better they can adjust their coping strategies.

In a nutshell, paraphrasing eliminates ambiguity and paves the way for clarity.

Facilitating emotional regulation

One of the main functions of paraphrasing is to build empathy between two or more people engaged in conversation.

But the effects of paraphrasing on emotions extend way beyond empathy and understanding.

One study revealed that empathic paraphrasing facilitates extrinsic emotional regulation. [3] People who receive empathy through paraphrasing feel understood, and that prompts them to engage in a more intense emotional regulation process.

What starts as extrinsic emotional regulation slowly becomes intrinsic emotional regulation. This is the reason why someone who’s going through a rough patch can feel better by merely talking to a person who listens in an empathic manner and doesn’t necessarily hand out solutions or practical advice.

Paraphrasing can be a vital skill in heated arguments where two people have opposing views that result in emotional turmoil.

If one of them manages to exercise restraint over their intense emotional reactions and tries to paraphrase what the other shares, it could change the whole dynamic of the conversation.

What is the role of paraphrasing in listening?

As we discussed throughout this article, paraphrasing is one of the critical aspects of active listening.

It’s what turns a passive individual who listens only to have something to say when it’s his/her turn to speak into an active listener who understands and resonates on an emotional level.

Furthermore, paraphrasing is a means by which we provide valuable feedback on the topic of discussion, keeping the conversation alive.

It is also the tool that allows therapists to build safe spaces where clients feel comfortable enough to unburden their souls by sharing painful experiences and gaining clarity.

To sum up, paraphrasing in counseling is a vital micro skill that creates an authentic connection, providing clients with the opportunity to experience a sense of understanding.

Knowing there is someone who resonates with your emotional struggles makes your problems seem less burdensome.

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Effects of Empathic Paraphrasing – Extrinsic Emotion Regulation in Social Conflict

Maria seehausen.

1 Cluster of Excellence “Languages of Emotion,” Freie Universität, Berlin, Germany

2 Dahlem Institute for Neuroimaging of Emotion, Freie Universität, Berlin, Germany

3 Department of Psychiatry, Charité University Medicine Berlin, Campus Benjamin Franklin, Berlin, Germany

Philipp Kazzer

Malek bajbouj, kristin prehn.

In the present study, we investigated the effects of empathic paraphrasing as an extrinsic emotion regulation technique in social conflict. We hypothesized that negative emotions elicited by social conflict can be regulated extrinsically in a conversation by a listener following the narrator’s perspective and verbally expressing cognitive empathy. Twenty participants were interviewed on an ongoing or recently self-experienced social conflict. The interviewer utilized 10 standardized open questions inviting participants to describe their perception of the conflict. After each of the 10 descriptions, the interviewer responded by either paraphrasing or taking notes (control condition). Valence ratings pertaining to the current emotional state were assessed during the interview along with psychophysiological and voice recordings. Participants reported feeling less negative after hearing the interviewer paraphrase what they had said. In addition, we found a lower sound intensity of participants’ voices when answering to questions following a paraphrase. At the physiological level, skin conductance response, as well as heart rate, were higher during paraphrasing than during taking notes, while blood volume pulse amplitude was lower during paraphrasing, indicating higher autonomic arousal. The results show that demonstrating cognitive empathy through paraphrasing can extrinsically regulate negative emotion on a short-term basis. Paraphrasing led to enhanced autonomic activation in recipients, while at the same time influencing emotional valence in the direction of feeling better. A possible explanation for these results is that being treated in an empathic manner may stimulate a more intense emotion processing helping to transform and resolve the conflict.


Emotion regulation research to date has mainly focused on an individualistic point of view emphasizing control mechanisms in the individual, such as attention deployment, cognitive reappraisal, or the willful suppression of emotional expressions (Gross and Thompson, 2007 ; Butler and Gross, 2009 ; Rime, 2009 ). Compared to the abundance and sophistication of the research pertaining to classification schemes on such intrinsic regulation, systematic analysis of extrinsic emotion regulation and especially of controlled interpersonal affect regulation (i.e., the process of deliberately influencing the emotional state of another person, as opposed to non-conscious affect spreading) is still relatively sparse. Rime ( 2009 ), however, points out that an emotional experience is virtually indivisible of a social response, which in turn is bound to shape and modify the original emotion, so that emotion has to be regarded as a fundamentally interdependent process.

Niven et al. ( 2009 ) propose a classification system for controlled interpersonal affect regulation strategies, derived from Totterdell and Parkinson’s ( 1999 ) classification of strategies to deliberately improve one’s affect. Their final classification distinguishes between strategies used to improve versus strategies used to worsen others’ affect, and between strategies that engage the target in a situation or affective state versus relationship-oriented strategies. The technique of empathic paraphrasing, which is investigated in the present study, can be categorized as aiming at affect improvement and engagement within this classification framework. However, it also contains a relationship-oriented component, as empathic paraphrasing communicates interest and commitment in understanding the other’s perspective, thereby implying that their feelings are valid and worth listening to.

Empathy has been conceptualized in many different ways, usually involving a cognitive and an emotional component (Preston and de Waal, 2002 ; Lamm et al., 2007 ; Decety and Meyer, 2008 ). Cognitive empathy means the ability to take the perspective of another person and infer their mental state, while emotional empathy refers to the observer’s affective response to another person’s emotional state (Dziobek et al., 2008 ).

Paraphrasing or active listening (coined by Carl R. Rogers in Client-Centered-Therapy) is a form of responding empathically to the emotions of another person by repeating in other words what this person said while focusing on the essence of what they feel and what is important to them. In this way, the listener actively demonstrates that he or she can understand the speaker’s perspective (cognitive empathy). Rogers described empathy as the ability to sense the client’s private world as if it were one’s own, but without losing the “as if” quality (Rogers, 1951 ). Empathy is communicated through active listening, which in the Client-Centered approach aspires to evoke personal growth and transformation through providing a space of unconditional acceptance for the client. Rogers considered empathy, positive regard, and congruence both necessary and sufficient conditions for therapeutic change (Rogers, 1942 , 1951 ).

This early notion on the importance of empathy for facilitating therapeutic change has gained ample empirical support over the last decades of research. How empathic a therapist is perceived to be has been identified as a critical factor for positive therapy outcome for both psychodynamically oriented and cognitive-behavioral psychotherapies (Bohart et al., 2002 ; Duan and Kivlighan, 2002 ; Orlinsky et al., 2004 ; Marci et al., 2007 ; Elliott et al., 2011 ; Norcross and Wampold, 2011 ). Based on a review of several studies Marci et al. ( 2007 ) describe a significant influence of perceived empathy on mood and general clinical improvement, even when controlling for other factors. Along this line, a meta-analysis conducted by Bohart et al. ( 2002 ) confirms a modest but consistent importance of empathy during psychotherapy. Zuroff et al. ( 2010 ) specifically examined the relationship between patient-reported measures of the three Rogerian conditions (positive regard, empathy, and genuineness) and therapeutic outcome, and found that patients whose therapists provided high average levels of the Rogerian conditions across all patients in their caseloads experienced more rapid reductions in both overall maladjustment and depressive vulnerability (self-critical perfectionism). Farber and Doolin ( 2011 ) conducted a meta-analysis on 18 studies also focusing on the effects of positive regard as defined by Rogers on treatment outcome, and found an aggregate effect size of 0.26, confirming a moderate influence of this factor.

The effectiveness of showing empathy on treatment success has also been assured within the field of medical care. Medical researchers have coined the term clinical empathy , which Mercer and Reynolds ( 2002 ) define as (1) understanding the patient’s situation, perspective and feelings (and their attached meanings), (2) communicating that understanding and checking its accuracy, and (3) acting on that understanding with the patient in a helpful (therapeutic) way. Hence, within the clinical setting empathy entails not only cognitive and affective components but also a behavioral component to communicate understanding to the patient, i.e., through active listening (Davis, 2009 ). Accordingly, the active demonstration of empathy has already been recognized as a crucial component of promoting cooperation in challenging situations within the field of clinical care. Halpern ( 2007 ) stresses that physicians who learn to empathize with patients during emotionally charged interactions can thereby increase their therapeutic impact. By the same token, a growing body of evidence demonstrates that empathic communication effectively helps patients through challenging and fearful situations, ranging from painful dental treatments over psychological problems to pandemic crisis (Cape, 2000 ; Reynolds and Quinn Crouse, 2008 ; Bernson et al., 2011 ). Neumann et al. ( 2009 ) reviewed prior empirical studies on clinical empathy and conclude that clinical empathy is a fundamental determinant of successful medical care, because “ it enables the clinician to fulfill key medical tasks more accurately, thereby achieving enhanced health outcomes ” (Neumann et al., 2009 , p. 344).

In sum, the effectiveness of empathic communication as an extrinsic emotion regulation technique has already gained solid empirical support from psychotherapy and medical research. For the present study, social conflict was chosen as the context to examine the effects of empathic paraphrasing on emotion, for two reasons. Firstly, social conflict is often accompanied by intense emotions such as anger and hurt, and therefore lends itself easily to the investigation of extrinsic emotion regulation, without requiring artificial emotion induction in the laboratory. The setting of real-life social conflict renders it possible to work with “real” emotion, while at the same time concentrating on a non-clinical population. Secondly, empathic paraphrasing is used with vast prevalence within the field of conflict resolution. Paraphrasing is generally applied as one of the most important constitutional elements across all domains of conflict mediation (business mediation, family mediation, community mediation, victim-offender mediation, etc.). Hence, it seems expedient to take a closer look at the emotional effects of a technique so widely used within the context of its most common application.

Social psychology research offers evidence for a connection between dispositional affective empathy as well as dispositional perspective taking and adaptive social conflict behavior (Steins, 2000 ; Gehlbach, 2004 ; de Wied et al., 2007 ). However, there is hardly any research on the effects of being treated in an empathic manner (as opposed to feeling empathy oneself) on conflict behavior. Moran and Diamond ( 2008 ) report positive effects of therapist empathy on parent’s negative attitudes toward their depressed adolescent children. Being treated in an empathic way seems to help parents to also empathize with their children going through a rough time. This is an interesting finding, which contains parallels to social conflict situations and stimulates the question which emotional effects are triggered by being treated empathically, and how these emotional processes aid own empathic reactions toward others.

An interesting train of evidence regarding the socio-cognitive effects of being treated empathically is provided by research on interpersonal mimicry and language matching in social interaction. Numerous studies confirm that non-verbal interpersonal mimicry increases affiliation and positive social judgment as well as pro-social behavior not only toward the mimicker but also toward people not involved in the mimicry situation, indicating that being mimicked not only leads to an increased liking toward the interaction partner, but to an increased pro-social orientation in general (van Baaren et al., 2004 ; Ashton–James et al., 2007 ; Fischer-Lokou et al., 2011 .; Guéguen et al., 2011 ; Stel and Harinck, 2011 ). This is true for the mimickee as well as the mimicker (Stel et al., 2008 ). Maddux et al. ( 2008 ) also report that strategic mimicry in negotiation abets more favorable negotiation outcomes, facilitating both individual and joint gains. This effect was mediated by higher levels of trust toward the mimicker. Ashton–James et al. ( 2007 ) tested several hypotheses on why mimicry promotes pro-social behavior and found that being mimicked during social interaction shifts self-construal toward becoming more interdependent and “other-oriented.” Additionally, mimicry strengthens one’s perception of interpersonal closeness with other people in general.

Correspondingly, language style matching, i.e., similarity in use of function words, has been found to predict relationship initiation and stability (Ireland et al., 2011 ). On a similar vein, according to the interactive-alignment account of dialog, the success of any given conversation depends on the extent of the conversation partners arriving at a common understanding of the relevant aspects of what they are talking about, i.e., a common situation model (Pickering and Garrod, 2004 ). Interlocutors tend to automatically align at different levels of linguistic representation, e.g., through repeating each other’s words and grammar (Garrod and Pickering, 2004 ). This alignment at low-level structure positively affects alignment of interlocutors’ situation models – the hallmark of successful communication – as people who describe a situation in the same way tend to think about it in the same way as well (Markman and Makin, 1998 ; Menenti et al., 2012 ). These findings strongly support the hypothesis that paraphrasing, which involves a certain degree of language matching and bears parallels to mimicry on a verbal level, administrates emotional and socio-cognitive effects on the person being paraphrased.

Regardless the impressive amount of research reviewed above, the specific dynamics of emotional response to empathic paraphrasing are yet largely unclear. Rime ( 2009 ) suggests that socio-affective responses such as comfort and empathy temporarily alleviate a narrator’s negative emotions and generate a deep feeling of relief. However, if no cognitive reframing and re-adjustment of goals, motives, models, and schemas occur, the alleviating effects of socio-affective responses can be expected to be only temporary, because the cognitive sources of the emotional unsettledness have not been transformed. Following this reasoning, the emotional effects of empathic paraphrasing should be expected to be short-lived. On the other hand, Rogers argued that receiving empathy and positive regard are necessary conditions for being able to revise overly rigid structures of the self and assimilate dissonant information and experiences (Rogers, 1942 , 1951 ). Hence, empathic paraphrasing may initiate a cognitive-emotional process progressing in several stages, with emotional alleviation and an increased mental openness and disposition for cognitive restructuring possibly being the first one. In this respect, the present research makes a valuable contribution by moving beyond correlational designs to presenting the first experimental study assessing in detail the emotional effects of empathic paraphrasing in the context of social conflict, hopefully providing a useful basis for further analysis in future studies.

To investigate whether and how empathic paraphrasing in the context of a real-life social conflict extrinsically regulates emotion, we invited participants to an interview in which they were asked to talk about an ongoing or recently self-experienced social conflict with a partner, friend, roommate, neighbor, or family member. The interviewer responded to participants’ descriptions by either paraphrasing (experimental condition following half of the interview questions) or taking notes (control condition). We assessed valence ratings pertaining to participants’ current emotional state as well as skin conductance response (SCR), blood volume pulse (BVP), blood volume pulse amplitude (BVPamp), and heart rate (HR) as indicators of autonomous nervous system (ANS) activity during the interviews. We also recorded the interviews for documentation and analysis.

Psychophysiological and voice parameters have been proven to be reliable indicators for emotional responses (Scherer, 2003 ; Kushki et al., 2011 ). HR is regulated by sympathetic (increase) as well as parasympathetic (decrease) pathways of the ANS (Li and Chen, 2006 ; Kushki et al., 2011 ), and reflects autonomic arousal (Critchley, 2002 ) as well as emotional valence (Palomba et al., 1997 ). BVP is a measure of changes in the volume of blood in vessels and has been associated with affective and cognitive processing (Kushki et al., 2011 ). BVP amplitude has been found to be lower during episodes of increased sympathetic activity (Shelley, 2007 ) and has also been shown to decrease when feeling fear or sadness in several studies (Kreibig et al., 2007 ). SCR depicts changes in the skin’s ability to conduct electricity and is considered a sensitive psychophysiological index of changes in autonomic sympathetic arousal that are integrated with emotional and cognitive states. In addition, SCR reflects vicarious emotional responses to another’s affective state (pain), and is therefore also connected to empathy (Hein et al., 2011 ).

Based on the literature reviewed above, we hypothesized that empathic paraphrasing would lead to a reduction of negative emotion in the situation of talking about the conflict. Specifically, we expected valence ratings to be more positive after paraphrasing. Furthermore, we hypothesized that empathic paraphrasing would lead to lower autonomic arousal, reflected in psychophysiological measures and voice analysis.

Materials and Methods


Twenty healthy subjects [10 female; age: mean (M) = 27, standard deviation (SD) = 7.9] participated in this study. All participants were native German speakers, and had recently experienced a potentially ongoing social conflict with a partner, friend, roommate, neighbor, or family member. No conflicts involving physical or psychological violence were included in the study. Due to technical problems, SCR and voice data of four participants as well as BVP data of three participants were lost. Therefore, 20 participants entered the analysis of self-report data, 16 entered voice data analysis and analysis of SCR, and 17 entered analysis of HR and BVP.

The study was carried out in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki and was approved by the ethical committee of the Charité University Medicine Berlin. All participants gave written informed consent prior to investigation and received payment for participation.

Interview design and procedure

Participants were told that the study investigates emotion in social conflict, especially how emotions develop while speaking about a social conflict. The interviewer further informed participants that she would try to understand their perspective, and sometimes summarize what she understood so far, while at other times take notes to help her memorize certain things and have them present over the course of the interview.

Interviews consisted of 10 standardized open questions (e.g., “What exactly bothers you about the other person’s behavior?”). After the participant answered each question, the interviewer either paraphrased what had been said, or silently took notes (control condition). Following these paraphrasing interventions or control conditions, respectively, participants were asked to rate their current emotional state. In order to avoid confounding effects resulting from the content of the questions, as well as distortions due to emotional processing over the course of the interview, interventions, and control condition were given alternately during the interview. Half of all participants received an intervention (empathic paraphrasing) after the first question, a control intervention after the second question, and so forth; the other half received a control intervention first. All interviews were conducted by the same female interviewer, who had previously received 190 h of training in conflict resolution and has worked on cases in community mediation, business mediation, and family mediation over several years, applying empathic paraphrasing as one of the core techniques of conflict resolution.

Paraphrasing in the present study was implemented in such a way that after each narration the interviewer briefly summarized the facts of the narration and described her understanding of how the narrator felt, and why, and what she understood was important to the narrator regarding the situation described. To confirm the accuracy of her paraphrasing, the interviewer asked if her understanding was correct at the end of each paraphrase. An example of a paraphrase is given in the Appendix.

All interviews were audiotaped. Interview length was 30.16 min on average (SD = 11.03), depending on how extensively participants answered to the questions. Figure ​ Figure1 1 depicts the interview questions as well as a schematic overview of the interview procedure and measurements.

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Interview guideline and procedure .

Data acquisition and analyses

Participants were asked to indicate their current emotional state (valence rating) on an eight-point Likert scale ranging from −4 to 4 (“How positive or negative do you feel right now?”) 10 times during the interview, following the interventions and control condition, respectively. Ratings were analyzed with two-tailed t -tests for repeated measures in IBM SPSS Statistics 20.

Skin conductance response and BVP were recorded continuously with a sampling frequency of 40 Hz using a commercial sampling device ( Biofeedback 2000 X-pert , Schuhfried GmbH, Austria) during the entire interview. Both interviewer’s and participant’s voices were recorded using Audacity 1.2.6 with a highly directional microphone (Shure, WH20 Dynamic Headset Microphone, IL, USA).

Skin conductance data was analyzed in LedaLab V3.3.1. Time frame of analysis was 25 s after the onset of the intervention or control condition. Within this interval, SCR was decomposed by continuous decomposition analysis (CDA; Benedek and Kaernbach, 2010 ). For each participant and interval, the maximum phasic activity was computed (with a minimum amplitude of 0.001 μS) and averaged for each participant across all intervals of both conditions).

Blood volume pulse and BVPamp were analyzed for intervals of 23 s after the onset of intervention or control condition using Matlab 7.1 (The Math-Works, Inc., MA, USA). Data were smoothed using a six point Gaussian filter. BVP was further used for extracting HR data through computing the inverse of the distance between successive peaks of the BVP signal in intervals larger than 0.4 s (Kushki et al., 2011 ). Mean SCR between both conditions (paraphrasing interventions and control conditions), BVP, BVPamp (in%), and HR (in beats per minute) were also analyzed with two-tailed t -tests for repeated measures in IBM SPSS Statistics 20. In addition, we compared BVP, BVPamp, and HR during the paraphrasing intervention and the interview question directly following the paraphrase, with a standard time frame of 4 s for the question phase.

Analysis of voice recordings was done with seewave in R statistics (Sueur et al., 2008 ). Using Audacity 1.2.6., intervals of speech for voice analysis were selected manually by listening to the recorded interviews and cutting out participants’ responses to each question – following an intervention or control intervention, respectively.

Behavioral data

Valence ratings following paraphrasing revealed less negative feelings than ratings following the control condition [ t (19) = 3.395, p  = 0.003]. Effect size is d  = 0.76 (Cohen’s d for repeated measures, calculated with pooled means and standard deviations).

Differences in valence ratings over the conditions are shown in Figure ​ Figure2 2 .

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Mean valence ratings (with standard error of the mean) after the empathic paraphrasing and control conditions .

Time series plots over the entire course of the interview show a U-shaped trend in valence ratings over time, which is mainly due to ratings following the control condition (see Figure ​ Figure3). 3 ). However, a repeated measures ANOVA including sequence of intervention over time as an additional factor demonstrates that the effect of the intervention remains untouched by sequence [main effect of sequence F (4, 72) = 1.768; p  = 0.145; main effect of intervention: F (1,18) = 11.400; p  = 0.003 interaction intervention × sequence F (4, 72) = 1.489; p  = 0.215].

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Mean valence ratings over the course of the interview, averaged over both conditions (A) and split up into paraphrasing and control condition (B) . At each of the 10 trials, 10 subjects received an intervention and 10 received a control intervention.

Psychophysiological data

Two-tailed t -tests for repeated measures show that participants had a higher SCR during paraphrasing than during the control condition [ t (15) = 2.589; p  = 0.021]. Effect size is d  = 0.65 (Cohen’s d ). Complementary results were found in participants’ HR, which was also higher during paraphrasing than during the control condition [ t (16) = 6.491; p  = 0.000; effect size d  = 1.57]. No significant differences between the conditions for BVP were found [ t (16) = 0.22; p  = 0.812]. However, there was a strong trend for mean BVPamp [ t (16) = −2.119; p  = 0.050; effect size d  = 0.51], which was lower during paraphrasing than during taking notes. Comparing BVPamp during paraphrasing with the interview question directly following the paraphrase, we also found that BVPamp is lower during paraphrasing than during the following interview question [ t (13) = 2.381; p  = 0.033; effect size d  = 0.64]. For HR and BVP, no such difference between paraphrase and subsequent interview question was found. Figure ​ Figure4 4 illustrates differences in psychophysiological measures and voice intensity over the two conditions.

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Measures of sympathetic activation (mean values with standard error of the mean) . (A) Skin conductance response (SCR; in μS), (B) Heart rate (in beats/minute), (C) Blood volume pulse amplitude (BVPamp in%), and (D) Voice volume (in dB) during empathic paraphrasing and control condition.

Voice analysis data

Mean intensity/volume of participants’ voices was lower when they replied to an interview question following a paraphrase [ t (15) = −2,466; p  = 0.026; effect size d  = 0.62]. There was no difference in mean fundamental voice frequency (F0) between the conditions [ t (15) = 0.583; p  = 0.568]. F0 range and F0 standard deviation did not differ between the conditions, either (see Table ​ Table1). 1 ). However, speech rate and articulation rate showed trends for slower speech following paraphrasing [speech rate t (15) = −1.86; p  = 0.082; articulation rate t (15) = −2.05; p  = 0.059]. Cohen’s d yielded effect sizes of d  = 0.47 for speech rate and d  = 0.51 for articulation rate.

Means (M), standard deviations (SD), t -, p -, and d -values of all parameters in intervention and control condition .

* and ** indicate significant findings .

Table ​ Table1 1 gives an overview of means and standard deviations of all psychophysiological, voice, and self-report parameters over the two conditions.

The aim of our study was to investigate the short-term emotional effects of empathic paraphrasing in social conflict. To achieve this, we conducted interviews on real-life social conflicts currently experienced by our participants. During the interview, paraphrasing was alternated with a control condition (taking notes). Emotional valence ratings were obtained after each intervention and control intervention and psychophysiological and voice recordings were executed continuously during the interviews. Our hypothesis was that paraphrasing would lead to more positive emotional valence and lower autonomic arousal. Viewing the results of our study as a whole suggests that empathic paraphrasing has a regulating effect on a narrator’s emotions, however, this effect seems to be more complex than originally expected. In sum, we found that participants felt better when the interviewer paraphrased their emotions and perceptions of the conflict. At the same time, and contrary to our expectations, SCR, HR, and BVP amplitude indicate higher autonomic activation during paraphrasing. Voice intensity as well as speech and articulation rate of participants on the other hand was lower when answering to a question following a paraphrase.

Effects of paraphrasing on valence

The self-report ratings demonstrate that participants felt better after the interviewer had paraphrased what they had said. Also, the relatively high effect size suggests that this effect is strong and practically relevant. The interview itself also induced valence effects over time, insofar that participants experienced a decline in emotional valence in the middle of the interview, which recuperated toward the end of the interview. However, due to the alternation of intervention and control intervention, which was again alternated in sequence over participants, this trend does not affect the intervention effect.

This self-reported valence effect is consistent with participants’ lower voice intensity after paraphrasing compared to the control condition. Banse and Scherer ( 1996 ) have linked high voice intensity with negative affects or aggressive speaker attitudes, thereby suggesting a conjunction between high voice intensity and negative emotional valence. Conversely, speech and articulation rate are also slightly lower following an intervention, even though these effects are not statistically significant. Speech rate is defined as the number of spoken units (e.g., words/syllables) per unit of time (minute/second). It is calculated across continuous speech segments, which may include pauses, disruptions, or dysfluency. Articulation rate is an analogical measure based only on fluent utterances, excluding pauses, and dysfluency (Howell et al., 1999 ). Speech rate has been demonstrated to increase when experiencing anger or fear compared to neutral emotional states (Scherer, 1995 ; Rochman et al., 2008 ). Hence, the lower speech and articulation rates following paraphrasing also suggest that participants experienced less negative emotion after paraphrasing.

By the same token, HR was higher during paraphrasing than during the control condition, which according to Palomba et al. ( 1997 ) can also be interpreted as a valence effect. HR deceleration has been associated with negative emotional valence during presentation of unpleasant visual stimuli. In social tasks, HR acceleration has been measured in accordance with intensity of emotion, and to a lesser degree, with emotional valence (Palomba et al., 1997 ). Palomba et al. ( 1997 ) found significant differences in HR deceleration between positive, negative, and neutral visual stimuli, with positive stimuli producing the highest and negative stimuli the lowest HR. Hence, self-report data, voice data, and HR analysis all support the conclusion that emotional valence was positively influenced by offering cognitive empathy through paraphrasing. This effect of paraphrasing on valence bolsters Rime’s ( 2009 ) supposition that being treated empathically while socially sharing negative emotion produces a short-term alleviation of these negative emotions.

Interestingly, the positive impact of mimicry on social judgment mentioned in the introduction (i.e., promoting liking toward the mimicker) suggests the generation of positive emotion as a result of mimicry. This was not the case for paraphrasing in our study: valence ratings in the intervention condition center around the neutral. Nevertheless, it is still possible that paraphrasing led to an increased liking toward the interviewer, while overall affect was neutral. Social judgment was not assessed in the present study, hence, no direct comparison with mimicry is possible. However, it would be interesting to compare the effects of mimicry and paraphrasing on emotion in future studies, as well as to study verbal mimicry or matching more extensively in the context of distressing conversations such as social conflict discussions.

Effects of paraphrasing on arousal

Skin conductance response, HR and BVP amplitude indicate a period of higher autonomic arousal while the interviewer paraphrased what participants had said, compared to taking notes on what they had said. Again, effects sizes of physiological measures suggest medium and in the case of HR, very strong, effects. This is surprising, as we presumed that the lower intensity of negative emotion induced by paraphrasing would be accompanied by lower arousal. Instead, paraphrasing apparently enhanced autonomic arousal. Quite conversely to psychophysiological data, the lower voice intensity following the intervention on the other hand suggests a calming effect of paraphrasing on autonomic arousal, as several studies on emotion and voice quality have associated high voice intensity with high sympathetic autonomic arousal emotions (Scherer, 2003 ). This apparent contradiction between voice data and psychophysiological data appears initially confusing, as vocal changes and changes in SCR both originate in mediated variation of HR, blood flow, and muscular tension caused by an arousing event (Duffy, 1932 ; Laver, 1968 ; Schirmer and Kotz, 2006 ).

However, this discrepancy can be explained by the fact that BVP and SCR were recorded while participants listened to the interviewer paraphrasing, whereas voice analysis was done on recordings of participants’ answers to the interviewer’s next question, following the paraphrase. Thus, the autonomic arousal induced by paraphrasing may already have subsided and passed into a calmer state at the time participants answered the next question. This possibility is difficult to double-check for SCR as this parameter is reactive to speech and will thus be higher while participants are talking, even though autonomic sympathetic arousal induced by the intervention might have diminished already. However, we reassessed this hypothesis using BVP, BVPamp, and HR data, comparing the paraphrasing phase with the subsequent question phase and found a confirming result for BVPamp, although not for the other two measures. Participant had a lower BVP amplitude while listening to the paraphrase compared to listening to the interview question asked in direct succession. This indicates a specific effect of paraphrasing on autonomic arousal, which is not induced by speech in general. It should also be noted that voice intensity following paraphrasing is significantly lower than voice intensity following the control condition. Hence, given the assumption made above is correct, participants’ autonomic arousal is first heightened by listening to the paraphrasing, and after a short period of time lowered to a level below the control state. This is a very interesting finding, for which two possible explanations should be considered.

Firstly, it is possible that empathic paraphrasing not only leads to a reduction of negative emotion in participants, but even induces positive emotions, such as happiness and relief about being listened to and validated. This would explain the initial higher autonomic arousal, which would in this case be due to a short-term experience of positive emotions, in accordance with Rime ( 2009 ) dissipating quickly. However, the behavioral data does not support this notion, as the valence ratings remain in the negative range of the scale even after paraphrasing, only approximating the neutral zero-point. Also, it should be noted that empathic paraphrasing is distinctly different from everyday forms of volunteering empathy or forms of social sharing of emotion as referred to by Rime. Paraphrasing does not offer sympathy or emotional empathy, but instead takes a purely cognitive road by demonstrating that the listener can understand the narrator’s perspective. It does not seem likely that this technique should have the same emotional effects as common social sharing responses such as offering sympathy.

Therefore, as an alternative explanation of our results, it is more conceivable that demonstrating cognitive empathy through paraphrasing temporarily leads to a heightened focus on and increased processing of negative emotion, which might eventually have a resolving effect on these emotions. This explanation seems probable considering the nature of paraphrasing, which entails repeating emotional narrations in a pointed way, thereby sharpening and clarifying the emotional experience. In a study on the relationship between therapist pre-session mood, therapist empathy, and session evaluation, Duan and Kivlighan ( 2002 ) found that intellectual empathy (demonstrating an understanding of the client’s perspective, i.e., empathic paraphrasing) was positively correlated with client-perceived session depth (power and value of the session), but not correlated with perceived session smoothness (comfort and pleasantness of the session). In a way, paraphrasing confronts people with what they are feeling, and thus can stimulate a deeper processing of negative emotion (depth), which temporarily involves higher autonomic arousal and may even be perceived as trying and hard work (smoothness), but eventually abets resolution of the emotional conflict. It however seems unlikely that this process advances automatically without fueling cognitive work such as reappraisal and re-adjustment of goals and schemas. Yet, the clarifying focus on one’s own emotion, accompanied by the non-judgmental stance of empathic paraphrasing might strongly push this process forward. This notion is in line with Rogers’ original claim to evoke personal growth and transformation in the client through empathic paraphrasing, thereby achieving therapeutic change (Rogers, 1942 , 1951 ).

Also, considering the findings from mimicry and language matching research, which have demonstrated that being treated empathically on basal levels such as facial expression and language style promotes attitude and behavior change, it seems plausible that empathic paraphrasing may foster socio-cognitive processes in a similar direction. As paraphrasing contains a deliberate effort to verbally align with the narrator, it may generate a shared situation model and in this way promote successful communication. It would be interesting to consider if empathic paraphrasing, as it bears a certain resemblance to mimicry on a verbal level, can also stimulate pro-social behavior in the person being paraphrased; for instance a greater willingness to open up for the other party’s perspective on the conflict. This would strongly support the idea of paraphrasing stimulating a clearance of negative emotion.

There seems to be wide consensus between psychotherapists of different disciplines that psychotherapy benefits from an optimal level of arousal in the client, similar to the Yerkes–Dodson law, which posits an inverse U-shaped correlation between arousal and performance in complex tasks (Bridges, 2006 ). Markowitz and Milrod ( 2011 ) argue that emotional arousal is central for engaging the client in psychotherapy and making the therapeutic experience meaningful. They claim that the therapist’s ability to understand and respond empathically to negative emotional arousal should be considered the most important one of the common factors of psychotherapy. The therapist provides support and at the same time acts as a model, teaching the client to tolerate, verbalize, and integrate their feelings. Thus, negative feelings diminish and lose toxicity. In a similar vein, the traditional concept of the “corrective emotional experience” by Alexander and French ( 1946 ) describes the transformation of painful emotional conflicts as re-experiencing the old, unsettled conflict but with a new ending. This notion, which has gained ample empirical support, holds that processing emotional conflicts within a safe and empathic environment is necessary for therapeutic change (Bridges, 2006 ).

A resembling road is also pursued by acceptance and mindfulness-based interventions. Research on acceptance-based and mindfulness-based therapy has shown that accepting and mindfully observing negative emotions (instead of trying to suppress them) leads to the dissolution of these emotions (Eifert and Heffner, 2003 ; Arch and Craske, 2006 ; Hayes-Skelton et al., 2011 ). Czech et al. ( 2011 ) cite several experimental studies which have demonstrated that acceptance of negative emotion decreases distress and increases willingness to engage in challenging tasks. Empathic paraphrasing may have similar effects, as it essentially applies the principles of mindfulness and acceptance from the outside – through a listener who takes on an accepting role, thereby prompting the narrator in the same direction. Offering cognitive empathy through paraphrasing draws attention to emotions, non-judgmentally describes and accepts them, and is thus very similar to acceptance-based and mindfulness-based therapy. The central difference might be the locus of initiation of these processes, which in the case of empathic paraphrasing comes from somebody else. Comparing the effects of mindfulness and empathic paraphrasing and investigating the potential consequences of this difference on emotion processing and emotion regulation could be an interesting research focus for future studies.

Limitations of the present study

A potential short-coming of the present study pertains to the nature of the control condition, which consisted of taking notes silently. It could be argued that, as only the experimental condition involved speech, the differences found might be due to a general effect of being spoken to, rather than to an isolated effect of empathic paraphrasing. However, it should be noted that within a social conflict situation, the content of a reply to emotional descriptions can never be perceived as completely neutral, and any control condition involving speech will induce emotional effects of its own, e.g., irritation or even anger caused by inapplicable verbal comments of the interviewer following participants’ emotional disclosure. The present control condition was deliberately chosen for providing a neutral baseline against which the effects of empathic paraphrasing can be tested before moving on to other modes of comparison.

An aligned point of concern might be that it cannot be ascertained how the control condition was perceived by participants. For instance, even though they were informed that the note-taking simply served the purpose of bolstering the interviewer’s memory during the conversation, some participants may still have worried about the notes containing subjective judgment. This would most likely induce stress and add an emotional bias to the control condition. In this case, however, one would expect an increase in autonomic responses during the control condition, which did not occur. Still, considering these shortcomings of the control condition, the results need to be reproduced with varying kinds of control conditions involving speech before they can be viewed as definite.

It should also be mentioned that this study focused exclusively on short-term emotional reactions to paraphrasing, in order to obtain a constitutional data base illustrating the regulatory effect of this communicational technique. Our results suggest that in addition to influencing immediate emotional valence, paraphrasing sets in motion an initially arousing process of coping with negative emotions associated with the social conflict, which eventually may lead to resolving these emotions. However, as we did not assess longitudinal measures pertaining to the emotions associated with the social conflicts in question, this conclusion has to remain speculative until backed up by further research.

Finally, the relatively small sample size of the study makes it prone to distortions from individual variations and gender differences, e.g., in emotion expression. Again, replication of the results based on larger groups of study participants is called for.

Conclusion and directions for future research

The present study provides first experimental evidence that offering cognitive empathy through paraphrasing extrinsically regulates emotion in social conflict. Paraphrasing led to less negative feelings in study participants, while at the same time inducing higher autonomic arousal, which subsided after a short period of time. A possible explanation for these findings is that empathic paraphrasing stimulates an increased and focused processing of negative emotion in social conflict, and thus may contribute to resolving these emotions.

Future studies investigating the emotional effects of demonstrating cognitive empathy may further scrutinize the short- and long-term effects empathic paraphrasing has on arousal, and test the hypothesis that paraphrasing induces a cognitive-emotional process which facilitates the resolution of negative emotion in social conflict. Also, it would be interesting to investigate the dynamics of this process more closely and identify factors necessary for its successful development. Presently, we are working on a neuroimaging paradigm designed to overcome some of the above mentioned shortcomings and further explore the effects of empathic paraphrasing on the disposition to consider other people’s perspective in social conflict.

Conflict of Interest Statement

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.


This study was financially supported by the Cluster of Excellence “Languages of Emotion” at Freie Universität Berlin which is funded by the DFG (German Research Foundation), and by the Open-Access publication fund of the DFG and the Freie Universität Berlin.

Example of a paraphrasing sequence

Interviewer: “What is worst for you about this situation?”

Narrator: “The worst thing is not knowing what happens now, well, this uncertainty. I mean, there is a problem, I have to make sure the rent is being paid, because in the end I am responsible, because I am in the rental agreement…and then – not being able to deal with that situation, not being able to act, because I just don’t know what is going to happen. The worst…now I am not so sure anymore, what was worst about it – well, also interpersonally it was very disappointing, because after all I took care of everything, voluntarily, and…I mean, when she is acting this way now, that is also a lack of recognition for what I do, what I accomplish. For my whole courtesy. What aggravates things is that is was clear from the beginning that she does not do so well financially, but urgently needed an apartment, and I let her move in with me to help her. And that is something that is…not being trampled under her feet…but you notice that there is a lack of recognition. Well, I think this second issue is worse than the first one.”

Interviewer: “So it is a combination, is it? For one, this thing, that in some way your existence is on stake here, that you are saying, this uncertainty is hard to bear – that you do not know how the rent is going to come around in the future. And then also the interpersonal issue, that you are saying you are disappointed of her, because you helped her, and in return you get this now, right? Especially the lack of recognition, the interpersonal treatment is what is worst – did I understand that correctly?”

Narrator: “Yes.”

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Encouragers, Paraphrasing and Summarising

A counsellor can encourage a client to continue to talk, open up more freely and explore issues in greater depth by providing accurate responses through encouraging, paraphrasing and summarising. Responding in this way informs the client that the counsellor has accurately heard what they have been saying. Encouragers, paraphrases and summaries are basic to helping a client feel understood.

Encouragers, also known as intentional listening , involve fully attending to the client, thus allowing them to explore their feelings and thoughts more completely. Paraphrasing and summarising are more active ways of communicating to the client that they have been listened to. Summarising is particularly useful to help clients organise their thinking.

The diagram below shows how encouragers, paraphrases and summaries are on different points of a continuum, each building on more of the information provided by the client to accurately assess issues and events.

Encouragers – Encouragers are a variety of verbal and non-verbal ways of prompting clients to continue talking.

Types of encouragers include:

  • Non-verbal minimal responses such as a nod of the head or positive facial expressions
  • Verbal minimal responses such as “Uh-huh” and “I hear what you’re saying”
  • Brief invitations to continue such as “Tell me more”

Encouragers simply encourage the client to keep talking. For a counsellor to have more influence on the direction of client progress they would need to make use of other techniques.

Paraphrases – To paraphrase, the counsellor chooses the most important details of what the client has just said and reflects them back to the client. Paraphrases can be just a few words or one or two brief sentences.

Paraphrasing is not a matter of simply repeating or parroting what the client has stated. Rather it is capturing the essence of what the client is saying, through rephrasing. When the counsellor has captured what the client is saying, often the client will say, “That’s right” or offer some other form of confirmation.

Example: I have just broken up with Jason. The way he was treating me was just too much to bear. Every time I tried to touch on the subject with him he would just clam up. I feel so much better now. Paraphrase: You feel much better after breaking up with Jason.

Summaries – Summaries are brief statements of longer excerpts from the counselling session. In summarising, the counsellor attends to verbal and non-verbal comments from the client over a period of time, and then pulls together key parts of the extended communication, restating them for the client as accurately as possible.

A check-out, phrased at the end of the summary, is an important component of the statement, enabling a check of the accuracy of the counsellor’s response. Summaries are similar to paraphrasing, except they are used less frequently and encompass more information.

  • July 21, 2009
  • Communication , Counselling Process , Encouraging , Microskills , Paraphrasing
  • Counselling Theory & Process

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Comments: 23

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Yeah,must say i like the simple way these basic counselling skills are explained in this article. More of same would be most welcome as it helps give a better understanding of the counselling process and the methods and techniques used within the counselling arena

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I really find this information helpful as a refresher in my studies and work. Please keep up the excellent work of ‘educating’ us on being a better counsellor. Thank you!

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Wonderfully helpful posting. Many thanks!

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Thankyou so much. I am doing a assignment at uni about scitzophrenia and needed to clarify what paraphrasing truly meant. Cheers

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So helpful to me as a counselor.

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Thankx so much for these post. I’m doing Counselling and Community Services and I need to clarify what summarising and paraphrasing really meant. Once again thank you, this information it’s really helpful

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Hello Antoinette friend and doing guidance and counselling need uo help about this question With relevent examples explain the following concepts as used in communicating to clients. (I;listening to verbal messages and using encouraged minimal prompts. 2)making use of non verbal communication and exhibiting attending behaviours using Gerald Eganis macro skill SOLER/ROLES. 3.paraphrasing 4.identifying and reflecting feelings and emotions from the clients story 5.summarizing 6.confrotation 7.counsellor self disclosure 8.asking open and close open ended concept 9.answering questions 10.clarifying

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thanks I am doing a counselling community services at careers Australia

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Really love the explanations given to the active listening techniques it was really useful and helpful good work done.

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Helpful. Thanks!

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I really like hw u explain everything in to simple terms for my understanding.

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Hai ,thanks for being here .Am a student social worker,i need help an an able to listen to get the implied massages from the client.and to bring questions to explore with them .I love to do this work .What shall I do i train my self in listening.

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really appreciate.

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You explanation of these three basic intentional listening are very helpful. Thank you for remained us.

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very helpful indeed in making the client more open and exploring the issues more deeply

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Very important cues.thanks

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the article was helpful .thank you for explaining it in more clear and simple words.appreciate it alot .

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I need to write about what counselling words mean ie I understand summarising and paraphrasing any more would be useful as I’m near the end of my course

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I have a role play exam tomorrow on counselling and find above explanation very useful. thanks for sharing.

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This explanation is clear and precise. Very easy to understanding than the expensive textbook. Please keep posting as this helps a lot. Thanks and God bless.

Pingback: Summarising In Counseling (a Comprehensive Overview) | OptimistMinds

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One of the simple and memorable descriptions of this I’ve read, thanks so much!

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Counseling Reviews

Basic skills for counselling (paraphrasing).


When you are rephrasing so you need to think like a paraphrase helper who is always there to help and creativity not for just checking purposes.

Hi, I just wanted some clarification on #4 of Why we paraphrase. I am a little confused with the sentence that states, "With this skill to emphasize content is also useful if attention to affect is premature or counter-productive."

Counselling skills are the tools that counsellors use to help clients. They can be divided into three main categories: communication skills, intervention skills, and assessment skills. Communication skills involve active listening, empathy, and rapport building. Intervention skills involve providing support, guidance, and encouragement. Assessment skills involve identifying client goals and objectives, assessing progress, and making referrals. Counselling skills are important because they provide a framework for helping people achieve their goals. When used effectively, counselling skills can help people overcome challenges, make progress, and improve their lives. Read another amazing blog:

For the Helpers by the Helpers

the importance of paraphrasing in counselling

  • Listening Response 2: Paraphrasing

1 . A brief introduction about paraphrasing

Paraphrasing has been regarded in professional literature as an influential reaction that greatly contributes to the process’s progress. This reaction encourages additional thoughts and new expressions which then aid the client in examining conflicts. Using paraphrasing during counselling also assists the social worker to clarify and brighten the client’s expressions.

2. What is paraphrasing?

  • Paraphrasing is rephrasing the main content of the client’s message (usually in a shortened form) to clarify the essence of what he or she has just said.
  • Paraphrasing is about stating thoughts from a different angle.
  • It concentrates on immediate client statements.
  • It is about taking what the client has said and repeating it back to them in your own words BUT not necessarily using the same words.
  • An accurate paraphrase would involve interchangeability of client’s ideas.
  • In summary, paraphrasing is simply just about condensing, capturing and stating in your own words the important con t ent message of what someone has just said.

3. What is not paraphrasing?

  • Paraphrasing is not equivalent to repeating what the clients say.
  • Repetition only shows that the social worker has memorized the message. It does not show whether the client’s words and ideas have been understood.
  • Parroting (repeating what the client has said word for word) also conveys the idea that that social worker is not “being there” with the client. In addition, it might irritate the client as they do not add anything valuable to the interview

To avoid parroting, try and recall how you were processing as you listened to the client, come at what the client has said from a different perspective, use your own words, change the order and refer to an expressed but unnamed emotion.

Having said that, at times, it is helpful for the social worker to repeat the client’s preferred words especially if the client uses a particular word rather frequently. This is highly useful as it helps the client feel a higher degree of rapport with the social worker. Also, when a client shares a particular insight, parroting might help the insight to sink in further.

4. Key points to remember while paraphrasing:

  • When restating in your own words bear in mind that you have to so in a manner where the content and meaning of what has been said remains the same without any change. In other words, the social worker should not add or alter the meaning of the client’s statement.
  • Also, such rephrasing statements should be void of judgment.
  • In addition, paraphrasing statements should be presented without an attempt to problem-solve.
  • Always check the accuracy of your paraphrasing with your client through phrases such as “Is that right?”.
  • A tip for helping students who have difficulties in paraphrasing would be to slow down the pace of the helping relationship so that they would have more time to think. During this time, students should try to recall the key message and attend to it. Also, recall key points and try to reconstruct it you’re your own words.

Moreover, many people have this conception that paraphrasing is merely putting the other person’s ideas in another way. However, effective paraphrasing comes from an attitude, a desire to know what the other person means. Hence, it is essential to communicate the meaning that their words convey to you

  5. Lead-Ins for paraphrasing :

Social workers use a wide range of different lead-ins for paraphrasing. This would add variety to the interview. Some common examples are listed below:

  • What I hear you saying is…
  • In other words…
  • So basically how you felt was…
  • What happened was…
  • Sounds like you’re feeling…
  • To put it in a different way, you seem to be saying…
  • As I understand it…
  • It seems like…
  • So, from where you sit…
  • I’m not certain I understand you; you’re feeling…

Social workers should remember to state paraphrases in a tentative way so the clients can correct errors, confirm accuracy or provide more detail. Also, a tentative paraphrase helps to pave the way for open discussions that might lead to deeper explorations. Examples of such tentative statements are “Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m sensing…” and “Would I be right to say that you feel…”.

6. What is the purpose of paraphrasing?

In the beginning stage, paraphrasing is especially important as the social worker is just starting to understand how the client feels and thinks

The client has an opportunity to know that the social worker has been listening to them, is with them and is interested in what he or she has to say. Thus, paraphrasing has a powerful and positive effect as the client in turn would release their defense guard and would share more without fear. Sharing more would lead to new understanding or insights for client with respect to their feelings and problems.

Through paraphrasing, client can also have an idea if the social worker has understood what he or she has said. If he or she feels that they have yet to be accurately understood by the social worker, then this provides them a chance to try to make the message clearer or correct the inaccuracy. On the other hand, if the paraphrase is accurate, it engages the client more and makes them open up more.

Paraphrasing is useful for confirming understanding such as confirming the social worker’s perceptions. Paraphrasing helps in the process of sorting out important from less important information. This helps the client to not only focus on the content of his or her message but also aid them in organizing their disjointed thoughts.

Lastly, paraphrasing helps to highlight content when attention to feelings is too early or self-defeating.

7. Examples of Paraphrasing:

7.1: Condensing client’s message and capturing the essence of it

Client: I lost my job at the start of the year. On top of that I had marital problems with my husband. My children just don’t seem to respect me.

Social worker: The message I get is that you’ve had a number of serious things going wrong this year.

7.2: Though using the same words, trying to make it sound like it is from a different angle by changing the sequence of the words.

Client: I know it doesn’t help my depression to sit around at home or stay in bed all day.

Social worker: It sounds like you know you should avoid staying in bed or sitting around all day to help your depression.

7.3: Checking accuracy of the rephrased statement with client

Client: I have been having a terrible time at work. I am so restless and I cant seem to concentrate. My supervisor warned me that I am not doing a good job and that if I don’t improve, she would fire me.

Social Worker: In other words, you find difficulty in concentrating and that your supervisor is displeased with your work and may fire you. Is that right?

8. How paraphrasing could be used with other skills

It is important to note that reflecting expressions in the relationships have been regarded as a similar psychological technique to paraphrasing although it includes emotional aspects which are beyond cognitional elements that are used in paraphrasing. Nevertheless, using both paraphrasing and reflecting in the counselling process encourages the client to explore and examine their feelings and thoughts and also brightens significant hidden aspects and lastly aids in developing an insight.


This section was done by Revathi D/O Thangavel.

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  • Engaging in the Beginning Stage
  • Listening Response 1: Clarification
  • Listening Response 3: Reflection
  • Listening Response 4: Summary
  • Interview with Social Worker (Mr Benny Bong)
  • Case Profile for Good and Bad Demonstrations
  • Bad Demonstration 1: Engaging in the Beginning Stage
  • Bad Demonstration 2: Clarification
  • Bad Demonstration 3: Paraphrasing
  • Bad Demonstration 4: Reflection
  • Bad Demonstration 5: Summary
  • Good Demonstration (with Mr Benny Bong)
  • The Beginning Stage Skills
  • Family Service Centres
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Learn, Grow, Achieve!


Paraphrasing & Reflecting Feelings, self-disclosing.

Posted on May 31, 2022 June 7, 2022 Author Dr. Balaji Niwlikar Leave a comment

  • 1.1 Importance of reflecting.
  • 2.1 Reflecting feelings- 
  • 2.2 Paraphrasing /Restating / reframing-
  • 2.3 Affirmations (self talk)
  • 2.4 Summaring  or summarizing
  • 3 Immediacy.
  • 4.1 Features  of self-disclosures should have the following. 
  • 5 Plan for problem solving:
  • 6 Reference,

Paraphrasing & Reflecting Feelings-

A paraphrasing restates another’s idea (or your own previously published idea) in your own words . Paraphrasing allows you to summarize and synthesize information from one or more sources, focus on significant information, and compare and contrast relevant details.

Reflecting feelings is a statement made by a therapist or counselor that is intended to highlight the feelings or attitudes implicitly expressed in a client’s communication and to draw them out so that they can be clarified . Also called reflection response.

  • Reflecting is like mirror.
  • Giving back what just communicated.
  • So the next person will understand you understand.

It is also used to make a client feel understood, encourage them to express themselves and open up more, and help them be aware of their own emotions and feelings.

Importance of reflecting.

  • It helps in building relationships – in communicating trust, acceptance and understanding.
  • Its gives clarification of problems & feelings.
  • By reflecting you get the Information- about the person and the situation.
  • Verification- check the perception
  • It heightens the client’s awareness of and ability to label their own emotions.

Four different reflecting skills.

Reflecting feelings- .

  • Focus on feeling not details – the act of identifying and acknowledging someone’s feeling and repeating it back to them.
  • This reflection of feelings include both verbal and non verbal.
  • Read body language even if feeling not expressed verbally.

Paraphrasing /Restating / reframing-

  • Saying what you understand – restates another’s idea in your own words.
  • So client will know you understand , if you don’t you are willing to be corrected
  • Use your own words
  • Slightly different word with same meaning 
  • Rephrase both content and feelings 
  • Convey empathy, acceptance and genuineness.

Affirmations (self talk)

  • Positive statements about who we are and what our potential is.
  • These help us feel good about ourselves, and focus on what we want.
  • When children (or teens or adults) hear words of encouragement, they learn to respect themselves.

Summaring  or summarizing

  • At the end of a session, After listening to the statements of the client , the counsellor summarizes the content presented by the client. 
  • Through summarizing, the counsellor tries to find out if s/he has properly understood the frame of reference of the client 
  • Helps the client to place his/her problem in perspective.
  • It refers to the counsellor disclosing feelings about the client or the therapeutic interaction at that moment as it happens.
  • In other words, using immediacy means that the therapist reveals how they themselves are feeling in response to the client. 
  • For example, after listening to a student who suffered sexual abuse, the counsellor may share his/her feeling towards the student:

Counsellor: “ I appreciate you trusted me with one of the most traumatic experiences of your life. And I respect your courage for confronting the problem ”


  • This refers to the counsellor stating feelings about a similar situation as the client is presently in.
  • For example, the counsellor disclosing to a student seeking help for dealing with public speaking phobia:
  • Counsellor: “When I had to speak before the class, I used to stammer”
  • The skills of self-disclosure as well as immediacy are closely associated.
  • Self-disclosure promotes immediacy in your relationship with the client. 
  • Self-disclosure intervention should be used in appropriate context and time only.
  • According to Kottler and Kottler (2007),  “Self-disclosures are best employed when you wish 

(a) demonstrate that the student is not alone, 

(b) bridge perceived distance between you, and 

Features  of self-disclosures should have the following. 

  • It should be concise .
  • It must be devoid of self-indulgence .
  • Usage should be conservative.

Plan for problem solving:

  • Once the counselor has determined that all relevant information regarding the client’s concern is available and understood,
  • Once the client has accepted the need for doing something about a specific problem, 
  • The time is ripe for developing a plan to solve or remediate the concern of the client. 
  • Here, however effective goal setting becomes the vital part of the counseling activity. 
  • Correspondingly mistakes in goal setting can lead to nonproductive counseling procedures and clients loss of confidence in the counseling process. 
  • Additionally, in this stage there are some sequential steps in viewing the processes involved. 

1) Define the problem 

2) Identify and list all possible solutions 

3) Explore the consequences of the suggested solutions. 

4) Prioritize the solutions on the basis of priority needs. 

  • In the further development of this plan, the counselor recognizes that the client will frequently not arrive at basic insights, implications, or probabilities as fast as the counselor will. 
  • However, most counselors will agree that it is better to guide the client toward realizing these understandings by himself or herself, rather than just telling the client outright. 
  • To facilitate the clients understanding, the counselor may use techniques of repetition, mild confrontation, interpretation, information and obviously encouragement.

To check your knowledge about the topic, take the test given below,

MCQ test- Paraphrasing and reflecting feelings

Gladding, S. T. (2018). Counselling: A Comprehensive profession (9 th  Edn). Pearson

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  • What are the basic reflecting skills in counselling?

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How Can Paraphrasing Be Used in Counseling? (3+ Main Indications)

the importance of paraphrasing in counselling

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The Optimistminds editorial team is made up of psychologists, psychiatrists and mental health professionals. Each article is written by a team member with exposure to and experience in the subject matter.  The article then gets reviewed by a more senior editorial member. This is someone with extensive knowledge of the subject matter and highly cited published material.

In this article, we will be discussing the topic: paraphrasing in counseling, which is one of the main counseling skills of a counselor. We will be looking at nature, importance, and the way of using this skill in the process of counseling. 

Paraphrasing in counseling

Paraphrasing refers to one of the counseling skills which holds paramount importance in the process of counseling. It is that skill which the counselor uses to repeat what the client has said at the present moment using fewer words and without any intention of changing the meaning of what the client conveyed through his words. 

The main intention behind paraphrasing is to feedback on the essence of what the person has just said. Paraphrasing is useful in the following situations:

  • When you want to let the client know that you are actively listening and understanding the information provided by the client
  • When you want to clear and clarify doubts concerning confusing content, given by the client.
  • When you want to highlight issues that need more explanation and precision
  • When you want to evaluate the accuracy of your perceptions as a counselor. 

Though paraphrasing looks quite simple and quick, it demands a sufficient amount of concentration and articulation skills from the side of the counselor. It is more difficult than it appears to be. While paraphrasing the words of the client, they should not end up feeling interrupted or misunderstood, in the process. The paraphrase should be kept, short, precise, and simple. There must be no unwanted complications or assumptions involved in it.

Although, if the paraphrase is kept too short, it would make the client feel confused and sometimes, dejected for being interrupted in between. Hence, paraphrasing must be initiated and put into action in a non-complex and understanding manner. It is very important to practice paraphrases that come in various lengths, variations of content, or emphasis of the wording. This will help you to understand what works best for your intentions and goals, as a counselor.

It is also important to understand that over-reliance on paraphrasing to the point of avoidance of reflection is indicative of discomfort on the part of the counselor, for encouraging the client to be emotionally open and expressive. 

Emphasis on essence

The intention of a counselor, when using paraphrases must be to reveal the essence of the client’s words. The client should get clarity, in terms of the paraphrases you use to communicate with them and must not feel confused or at loss for words once they’ve heard you out. They must be able to smoothly continue with their communication and not be intimidated or taken aback by your choice of words. 

Growth of empathy

Paraphrasing in counseling has a huge impact on the relationship between the therapist and the client. First ad foremost, it aids both the therapist and client to feel heard and understood. This forms the foundation for the client-therapist relationship. The client feels more free and brave to share their innermost and private experiences with the therapist. In turn, the therapist actively listens to the client and provide genuine feedback to the client on the most relevant parts of the client’s information using paraphrasing. 

If paraphrasing is carried out accurately and without the creation of confusion, it helps the client in recognizing the effort of the therapist and the amount of empathy the therapist holds for their state of mind. Hence, paraphrasing, in one way, helps in building the empathetic relationship between the client and the therapist which is important as empathy is not a one-way transaction. 

This is because it is important for the client to feel the empathy that is being conveyed by the counselor. Empathy is not just the counselor being able to put themselves in the client’s state of mind and understand their issues. It also involves the client receiving the empathetic energy that is being conveyed through the words and actions of the counselor.

A form of acknowledgment 

Paraphrasing is a form of acknowledgment that is provided by the counselor. This is done by mindfully restating the words of the client, conveying empathy, acceptance, and genuineness. A therapist’s role does not comprise of reading the minds of the clients or assuming their emotional states. Hence, it is very essential to learn the art of rephrasing the client’s words briefly and acknowledge them with honesty. 

By engaging in paraphrasing, you are letting the client know that you are understanding what they are trying to convey and you are ready to be corrected in case of any misunderstanding.

The important thing to be kept in mind is not to make judgemental statements or use biased terms in the form of paraphrases. This puts off the client and makes him/her trust the therapist less. You must allow the client to come to conclusions on their own and not put words in their mouth. 

Tone of voice

It is a good thing to keep a tab on the tone of voice used with the client while paraphrasing the client’s words. Be mindful of the following:

  • A high or low voice
  • A loud or soft voice
  • Fast or slow voice
  • Accommodating or demanding
  • A lighthearted or gloomy voice

Be aware of the moderations used in voice, pitch, tone, and your body language as well. The client places an immense amount of trust in the therapist and they tend to remember how the therapist made them feel, at the end of the process. Therefore, it is imperative to be careful and gentle while dealing with clients and the information they provide. At the end of the day, the aim of the counselor must be to help the client feel validated and more confident through the usage of paraphrases. 

Alternatives that do not define paraphrasing

  • Paraphrasing is not equivalent to repeating what the client just said. That is called repetition. Paraphrasing involves empathetic understanding and the right choice of words to help the client feel safe and heard.
  • Parroting the words of the client reveals the idea that the therapist is not there with the client mentally and might cause irritation and frustration in the client. Eventually, they might even stop communicating, as a consequence. 

In this article, we discussed the topic: paraphrasing in counseling. We saw the importance of paraphrasing as a counselor’s skill, its emphasis on the essence, how it helps in the theme growth of empathy, and things to be kept in mind while using paraphrases. 

FAQs: paraphrasing in counseling

Why do counselors use paraphrasing.

Paraphrasing is one of the most important skills that is required, in the process of counseling. Paraphrasing in counseling is a way of responding, which informs the client that the counselor has precisely heard what the client has conveyed. These kinds of paraphrases, encouragers, and summaries are important and helpful for the client to feel understood in the process of counseling. They make the client feel more comfortable and less vulnerable in the relationship with their therapist. Paraphrasing and summarising are active and efficient ways of communicating to the client that they have been heard. 

What is the difference between paraphrasing and reflecting in counseling?

The difference between paraphrasing and reflecting in counseling is that in paraphrasing you are only summarizing what the client has conveyed. When the client conveys certain information to you, you use paraphrasing skills to reaffirm the meaning of what the client conveyed through his words. On the other hand, the skill of reflection is slightly different. In reflection, you go beyond the process of summarizing what the client said to try to identify the feelings and thought patterns the client may have not identified, but their words and attitudes indicate the presence of such feelings and thought patterns. 

How do you reflect in counseling?

Reflection is an extremely useful and comprehensive skill use by counselors in the process of counseling. It can be compared to holding up a mirror to see the reflection of yourself in it. While reflecting on what the client said, you repeat the client’s words back to them in the exact way they conveyed it to the therapist. In the process, the therapist might choose to reflect on a selected set of words, the whole sentence, or sometimes, just a single word is used for the purpose. This helps the client in gaining insight into his thought process and how it works. It also helps him to connect many events in his life to his way of thinking and feeling and how it affected those events. Clients find the process of reflection a potential tool for growth and meaningful understanding of their obstacles in the process of counseling and how to overcome them. 

How is paraphrasing helpful?

Paraphrasing is important for the mutual understanding of both the client’s and the therapist’s understanding of the client’s situation. It helps the client in revealing the source of his thoughts and emotions in many instances and it acts as a breakthrough for the client in the process of counseling. The therapist also makes good use of the paraphrasing skill to confirm and reaffirm the meaning and tone of emotion used to convey anything that is said by the client, to clear the air of doubts or confusions and make the process of counseling smooth and hassle-free. It provides a good deal of understanding between the client and the therapist.

What are some counseling skills?

The most essential and primary ten skills required in counseling are as follows:

Listening: the counselor must be able to provide their undivided and complete attention to the client, while they are sharing their thoughts, emotions, and their queries. Empathy: the counselor must be empathetic, genuine, non-biased, and able to sincerely understand the emotional state of their clients.  Genuineness.  Unconditional positive regard: the counselor must be non-judgemental and completely accepting of the client as a person, without any expectation of personal gain or rewards.  being concrete Open-ended questioning: open-ended questioning is a form of questioning process which is used to assist the client in clarifying or exploring thoughts. Self-disclosure of the counselor Meaningful interpretation and explanation skill Appropriate and helpful delivery of suggestions, when needed Consistent removal of obstacles in the way of change.

What is the primary goal of counseling?

The primary goal of counseling is to enable the client to make their own decisions, concerning various aspects of their life, such as career, education, personal growth, relationships, and health. The client should be able to think and act for themselves, without the aid of external influential sources. Counseling will help the clients gain information and also to clarify emotional concerns that may interfere with or be related to the decisions involved. It enhances their problem-solving skills and let them depend less on people’s opinions and judgments.

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the importance of paraphrasing in counselling

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paraphrasing and summarizing in counselling

Learn reflecting and listening skills including reflecting content, feelings, and meaning, as well as paraphrasing and summarizing. Reflecting Counseling Skills. Summarizing, Paraphrasing, & Reflecting. Summarizing, paraphrasing, and reflecting are probably the three most important & most commonly used microskills. These skills can be used by counselors to demonstrate their empathy to clients, make the counseling session go “deeper”, & increase clients’ awareness of their emotions, cognitions, & behaviors. Counselors sometimes think that because they are educated in counseling they FOUR ACTIVE LISTENING TECHNIQUES:Paraphrase.

Summarizing means that the Paraphrasing and summarising are more active ways of Summaries — Summaries are brief statements of longer excerpts from the counselling 5.summarizing 6 Essays – largest database of quality sample essays and research papers on Summarizing In Counseling Summarizing, and Paraphrasing a Source Part 1: Paraphrasing is not a matter of simply repeating or parroting what the client has stated. Rather it is capturing the essence of what the client is saying, through rephrasing. When the counsellor has captured what the client is saying, often the client will say, “That’s right” or offer some other form of confirmation. Both paraphrasing and summarizing are allowed and accepted till due credit is given to the original source, and only till the work is not copied and is from any kind of plagiarism. Paraphrasing This excludes copying of text in any form.

Summarising and Paraphrasing Posted on November 17, 2011 by OxfordTherapist These two skills involve feeding back to the client your understanding of what they say. Paraphrasing is repeating in your words what you interpreted someone else to be saying. Paraphrasing is powerful means to further the understanding of the other person and yourself, and can greatly increase the impact of another’s comments. LISTENING & UNDERSTANDING SKILLS:Tips for Paraphrasing, Summarizing Skills Theory and Practice of Counselling Social Sciences Psychology Video 2 of 3 – This video demonstrates only the reflective techniques of paraphrasing, summarising and echoing. Its purpose is to highlight one particular counselling technique. Summaries usually cover a longer time period than a paraphrase. We are “reflecting back” wheras paraphrasing can be used after a few sentences. A summary may be used after some time: perhaps half-way through a counselling session, or near the end of a counselling session.

The summary’sums up’ the main themes that are emerging. Definition of Reflection in Counselling. A reflection in counselling is like holding up a mirror: repeating the client’s words back to them exactly as they said them. 012 Two very useful skills in communicating with others, including when coaching and facilitating, are paraphrasing and summarizing the thoughts of others. How Quoting, Summarizing, and Paraphrasing a Source. Associate Level Material Appendix U Quoting, Summarizing, and Paraphrasing a Source Part 1: Paraphrasing and Quoting Review the following passage. Paraphrase the main ideas of this passage in the box below. In addition, include one direct quotation. Paraphrasing in counseling. The grasshopper, then, which uttered a voice that did not come from its mouth, Paraphrasing and summarizing.


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