On Bell Let’s Talk Day, psychologist says let’s also listen

Dr. Heather Fulton with the Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addiction has listening tips

Last year, #BellLetsTalk was the most-used Canadian Twitter hashtag, according to Twitter Canada. The campaign even gained the attention of Ellen Degeneres.

But on Bell Let’s Talk Day 2019, which takes place on Wednesday, it’s important to also listen, says Dr. Heather Fulton, a registered psychologist at the Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addiction.

“Let’s Talk is really important for reducing stigma and talking about mental illness,” said Fulton. “Part of that is, let’s listen to what people have to say.”

READ MORE: Let’s Talk: Nearly 1 billion interactions on mental health since 2011

“Listening is really important because it communicates to that other person that their responses, feelings, thoughts and actions make sense and they’re understandable,” she said. “It’s not necessarily agreeing with them or you conveying that you like what they’re saying, but that you get them, you understand them and it helps that relationship.

“It can be one of the most powerful things that we do with someone.”

While many people think they’re good at listening, “perhaps they’re not actually as good as they think they are,” Fulton said.

Common pitfalls include the compulsion to dole out advice, “but feeling truly listened to and understood can be much more helpful than any advice or suggestions that we offer,” she said.

RELATED: First responders share struggles with adversity in new Delta Police podcast

Another pitfall is depending on platitudes like “it happened for a reason” and “it made them a better person.”

“Often when we say those phrases, we say them because we feel uncomfortable, we don’t know how to help and we want them to feel better as fast as possible,” Fulton said. “But they rarely have that intended effect of helping the other person, and often they actually make a person feel worse.”

Instead, Fulton suggested practicing active listening by concentrating on what the other person is saying, and using nonverbal cues such as eye contact and nodding your head.

Further, stating feelings descriptively like “you felt ignored” and showing tolerance by trying to understand the person’s emotions and reactions based on their life circumstances are tested and true listening techniques.

“With listening… just listen. Be present,” Fulton said. “You don’t have to fix things, nor are you really able to. Just ask them how you can help anyways.

“Sometimes it might just be sitting and listening to them, bearing witness to some of their experience. Showing them that you’re not uncomfortable with them or their emotions can be really validating.”



karissa.gall@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Gathering in Salmon Arm to offer support, resources after shooting

Agencies join to provide practical assistance from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 23 at rec centre

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: Clear skies and pushing 20 C

Environement Canada forcasts a sunny and warm Easter weekend

Have your say on proposed ban of single use plastic bags

Salmon Arm to hold public information session on bylaw this Tuesday, April 23

Peeling away: OK strip clubs disappearing

Hear from Penticton’s only strip club owner about their success in a dying industry

Update: Fire destroys Peachland home on Somerset Avenue

Crews are still on scene pumping water onto the blaze

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Summerland student examines effects of sound

Science fair project will go to national competition in New Brunswick

Cuteness overload: duckling thinks dog is its mom

Vernon photographer Fiona Hook shot a cute video after noticing one of her ducklings had taken a special liking to her dog.

Fire near Vernon airport “not a concern”

Vernon firefighters attended the scene and found a resident performing a controlled burn

Sons of Anarchy’s Kim Coates stops by Okanagan café

Coates was spotted in West Bank’s Kekuli Café on April 20

B.C. women make 2,200 cabbage rolls for charity

The money raised was donated to former NHL player Aaron Volpatti, who is raising funds for ALS

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, 35 people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

B.C. mom wages battle to get back four kids taken from her in Egypt

Sara Lessing of Mission has help from Abbotsford law firm

Most Read