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

Unplowed Roads parody song destined to be a classic

Move over Weird Al, Island elementary students on the same level

North Cowichan to pause all logging in forest reserve for 2019

Municipality expects decision to cause $150,000 shorfall this year

Vancouver measles outbreak prompts vaccine vigilance on Island

No cases here yet, but Island health authorities push measles vaccinations - and not just for kids

Sound of Music echoes with a surprising amount of cool

Chemainus Theatre review: my teenage self didn’t know what he was missing

Robert Barron column: Thanks to municipal workers during snow storm

I’ve always wondered how anything gets done when mounds of snow fall from the sky.

‘Riya was a dreamer’: Mother of slain 11-year-old Ontario girl heartbroken

Her father, Roopesh Rajkumar, 41, was arrested some 130 kilometres away

Trudeau takes personal hit amid SNC-Lavalin controversy: poll

Overall, 41 per cent of respondents believed the prime minister had done something wrong in the affair

B.C. photographer captures otters on ice

A Langley photographer was at the right place at the right time on the Fraser River

Do you live with your partner? More and more Canadians don’t

Statistics Canada shows fewer couples live together than did a decade ago

B.C. child killer denied mandatory outings from psychiatric hospital

The B.C. Review Board decision kept things status quo for Allan Schoenborn

Searchers return to avalanche-prone peak in Vancouver to look for snowshoer

North Shore Rescue, Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog teams and personnel will be on Mt. Seymour

Market volatility, mortgages loom over upcoming earnings of Canada’s big banks

Central bank interest hikes have padded the banks’ net interest margins

Hearings into SNC-Lavalin affair start today, but not with Wilson-Raybould

She has repeatedly cited solicitor-client privilege to refuse all comment

VIDEO: 8 things you need to know about the 2019 B.C. budget

Surplus of $247 million with spending on children, affordability and infrastructure

Most Read