How Active Listening Benefits Everyone
Psychologists have long-known that social interactions contribute to psychological well-being and overall good health. However, this concept has become complicated as texting, social media, and other tech-mediated interactions have, in large part, replaced face to face interactions.
What counts as a meaningful reaction, and what is psychologically harmful? The former requires active and empathetic participants.
The sheer act of someone holding space for another through active listening, if only for a few minutes, can provide a host of holistic benefits in conjunction with the already well known psychological benefits. When an individual truly feels heard and validated, particularly when a safe environment is created (e.g. free of judgement or advice giving), research demonstrates that stress cortisol levels—hormones that can lead to health issues such as the development of depression, anxiety and high blood pressure—decrease. Furthermore, a number of studies indicate that the serotonin and dopamine in the brain can also increase during these active listening interactions.
HearMe works as a solution to this by providing users with peers to chat with who are trained in evidence-backed active listening skills. Most people will benefit from this time and cost efficient manner of simply having someone show up and be present for another person. As a therapist, I know this can be beneficial to everybody. In a world where we are increasingly isolated from each other, connecting in this manner can provide much needed relief for people on both sides of the interaction.
The effectiveness of peer support is believed to derive from a variety of psychosocial processes described best by psychiatrist Mark Salzer including: social support, experiential knowledge, social learning theory, social comparison theory and the helper-therapy principle. HearMe provides us with an excellent example of how incorporating these factors into one easy-to-use platform can transform the lives of its users.
Social support is the existence of positive psychosocial interactions with others with whom there is mutual trust and concern. Trust can be hard to find in our everyday relationships, but HearMe’s listeners are there because they truly want to be a trusted, empathetic ear.
Experiential knowledge is specialized information and perspectives that people obtain from living through a particular experience, and when shared, contributes to solving problems and improving quality of life. On HearMe, users may benefit from sharing with a listener they selected based on similar life experiences or interests, such as LGBTQ identity, substance abuse, divorce, loss, etc.
Social learning theory postulates that peers, because they have undergone and survived relevant experiences, are more credible role models for others. By interacting with a HearMe listener who also went through a similar situation—substance abuse, for example—users are given a sense of optimism and something to strive toward.
The helper-therapy principle proposes that there are also significant benefits for those who provide peer support. What is unique about HearMe is that users can enter on either side, and those who choose to become a listener will see a significant impact on their lives as well.
Over all, HearMe is a beneficial tool to engage in meaningful interactions for better health and mental health, and I encourage everyone to give it a try. As a therapist and friend of Adam Lippin, the founder, I have watched and been impressed by the app’s ability to make a difference. It could just be the changing factor in your life.
Dr. Dara Querimit is a New Jersey-based psychologist specializing in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and solution-focused therapy with over twenty years of experience. As a licensed psychologist, certified personal trainer, and certified practitioner in yoga therapeutics, she uniquely integrates complementary methodologies and techniques to offer a highly personalized approach that is tailored to each client’s goals.
For more visit: http://drdaratherapy.com