Mental health and well being with Nicky Ferry:

GIVEN that I work for a counselling organisation, we talk a lot about the power and value of listening.

It is undoubtably a palpable and powerful experience when someone truly listens to you - listens by being fully engaged in what you are saying, how you are saying it, the tone of your voice, the state of your body and taking an interest in what you are not saying.

In this kind of listening the listener isn’t thinking about themselves, looking to offer an opinion or seeking to control the conversation.

What happens to us when we experience being listened to like this?

Usually, we feel valued, important, special and we start to feel a sense of trust and wellbeing.

Physiologically we receive an endorphin release and we start to learn to listen to our own thoughts and feelings more deeply. Very often new solutions and bigger perspectives can open up or we feel a sense of peace. We fall in love with people who listen to us, we vote for them, we trust them and we open up to them.

Given what we are facing individually and collectively at this poignant time, this depth of listening has got to be a valuable skill to nurture. We see examples constantly of people, communities and governments failing to listen, the results of which play out anywhere from the unsatisfactory to the catastrophic.

If listening is so powerful why is it so rare to experience it in everyday life? Truly listening to another, necessitates putting our own thoughts, opinions, and ego to one side and being non-judgemental.

It also requires us to be patient, to welcome silence and to let go of control.

We are bombarded constantly with all manner of ‘noise’ in terms of information, visual stimulation, news, workplace and home-life demands.

As a result, the subtle, the still and the gentle are easily over-looked or over-ridden.

But the quiet within is always available to us, all it takes is for us start listening to ourselves more closely, then we can truly listen to others.

GCS is offering a free online session on Saturday, June 27 for anyone interested in finding out about our courses to developing your listening and counselling skills or to start a new career in counselling. Email or visit