children love attention - look at me! Look at me! Look at me!

a 4th principle - regard, attention
The most powerful contribution we can make is to pay attention. Attention is implicit in the last word of the summary of the three principles - unconditional positive and authentic regard.

The term active-listening does not capture all the nuances of attention. We attend with all our senses. Our presence is active and engaged. We are in subconscious communication. Using our animal senses. Being together is perhaps a better description. The very act of being there can be healing.

being there
Just being with someone is a significant activity. Notice the difference between being alone compared with being with someone else even when there is silence and no physical contact.

Walking with someone is different to walking by oneself. The mind and body are mobilized differently. There is an awareness and accommodation to the other person.

Being there for someone is the active ingredient of therapy. There is a psychoanalytic dictum that the most important rule is to hang in there with someone. The secret of success is to be there.

Being there for someone is experiencing each emerging word and feeling. Each moment another step into an unknown.

Someone who uses these principles is free to pay full attention. They are not occupied with analyzing situations or providing expert opinion.

Being there at a time of crisis when someone wants to talk is a more effective than being late when a crisis is over. A conversation is more focused and closer to core problems.

People drop off waiting lists as they more or less resolve problems by themselves or become overwhelmed by them.

Assessments postpone or terminate connecting with someone.

4 principles - Simple in principle and infinitely complex in practice.

These principles allow the core of a matter to emerge. I suggest that being there for someone is all we need to do and that if we do more we risk losing ground without standing to gain much. I have found that the less I do and the less I intrude my own ideas, the more useful I am. The faster and deeper therapy progresses.

The exercises on the mind and stress pages help relax and focus so as to more fully be there for someone - less distracted and preoccupied.