Chatting to my daughter (who is not called Sarah) about the stuff she does at school as a peer counselor, I discovered that they have a great mnemonic framework for the approach they take, it’s called ‘SARAH!’ Check this out:
STOP Talking and switch off your own need to be listened to. Check your body language shows that you are listening.
Actively listen to what your speaker is saying. Listen well and only ask questions if you are unclear about something, to find out how they are feeling or if they stop talking. Let them decide what they want to talk about.
Repeat a summary of what you heard them say. Be as accurate as possible. Make sure you reflect back to them how they said they were feeling. Your speaker should appreciate that they were listened to and their feelings understood.
Accept what they are saying even if you think they are wrong. Show your acceptance that they have a right to feel anyway they please. Remember: Feelings are facts. Act with Empathy
Help them to think of ways forward. Your listening to them will have helped them to be more positive. Make sure you don’t give them advice, either directly or indirectly. Only they know what they need.
Essentially it’s Rogerian non-directive counselling but I thought this summary for 10 year olds was actually more instructive and useful than most text books 🙂 The ‘H’ phase would be different from a ministry point of view in terms of prayer for and with the person but it’s still a useful guideline to listening, not assuming and also, not thinking it’s our job to provide the solution. Let me know if you re-write this for any cell group leaders or the like!