Carl Rogers, the founder of humanistic psychotherapy (non-directive therapy) talks about the power of listening to feelings, and reflecting them back to clients, in therapy (and in relationships in general).

Dr. Rogers states,

We give too little importance and consideration to an element which is extremely important…

It is one of the most delicate and important tools that we have [and I’m surprised by how rarely we see it].

Rogers describes that he was surprised when we learned that “simply listening” to clients “very attentively” was an important part of being helpful…in his opinion, it seemed preposterous at first that such a passive thing could be so useful.

But he soon learned that the non-directive approach to therapy was not “passive.” Rogers describes that the most effective listening is when you (1) listen for the feelings and emotions concealed behind a person’s (client’s) words, then (2) find “patterns of feeling” behind the words of the person, and then (3) reflect back to the person (or client) that you understand both what they are saying, and what they are feeling.