Active listening – Activity 4

Reflecting emotional needs and paraphrasing

Activity type:
Role playing

Learning goals:
This exercise goal is to assist you in exercising paraphrasing, and reflecting not only to the actual wording of the client but also to his/her emotions, facial expressions, body language, posture and tone of voice. Paraphrasing is key to the building of mutual trust and to the revelation of the issues to be discussed during counselling. The client is made to hear what he/she has expressed via the practitioner and this helps him/her better understand his/her case as well as his needs in a more realistic base

Group activity (2 persons and more – work in pairs)

45 minutes

Material needed:
14 statements (available on platform / pdf)


You take the role of the client and express the statements given one by one. The person next to you takes the role of the practitioner and tries to paraphrase the client’s wording by showing he/she is reflecting on the expressed emotion. Change roles (choose 7 statements each person to practice as practitioner)

For example:

Client: He told me he was going to help me out but he didn’t. He lied to me.

Practitioner: You feel betrayed that your friend broke his promise to help you.

Statements to use:

1) My father constantly belittles me. I hate him.

2) I heard my mum saying she wished I was never born.

3) My friend spread the rumour I stole her boyfriend. I can’t stand it.

4) My colleague blames me for things I have never done.

5) I was presenting my essay to my colleagues. The boss came in and I froze.

6) My wife told me I was a disappointment in her life. I wanted to disappear from the scene.

7) I had a bad review and my mum said she was expecting more of me. I just left.

8) My boss said I would get the promotion in front of everyone. Now he ignores me. Plus the promotion was given to a younger guy with much less experience.

9) I don’t know which field of study to pursue. I like physics but I would also like to become a doctor.

10) I have lived in the country for 7 years, but I am still a foreigner. The boss constantly gives a promotion to local people of inferior ranks than me? Should I resign or politely ask for more at my present job?

11) I got fired. I am 48 years old. I won’t find a job again.

12) I don’t know anyone in this town where my husband found a job a month ago.

13) I don’t like my job. It’s all routine.

14) No one talks to me in class and I heard someone whispering they don’t like me

Questions for reflection:

After the end of the role playing trainees are sharing their experience referring to the following:

  • Have you managed to make the right reflections on what your client expressed?
  • As a client, do you think that the practitioner expressed your feelings and words in an accurate way?
  • What are your feelings over the process?