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Reflective Listening

A health care provider comforts a patient

Reflective listening is defined as listening carefully and nonjudgmentally to your patient and then reflecting back to him or her what you heard using your own words.

Patients in chronic pain can seem tense, exasperated, or confrontational. Often, this is due to previously unsuccessful treatments. Reflective listening gives the patient the assurance that he or she is being heard and the chance to correct any mistaken perceptions.

Advantages of Reflective Listening

  • It communicates respect to the patient.
  • It lessens patient defensiveness.
  • It increases patient communication and cooperation.
  • It’s an opportunity to correct mistakes or misunderstandings.


Motivational Interviewing Steps and Core Skills [PDF - 2.2 MB]


Fishman, MD, Scott M. Responsible Opioid Prescribing: A Physician’s Guide. Washington, DC: Waterford Life Sciences, 2007. pp. 17–19.

Turk, Dennis C., and Robert J. Gatchel, eds. Psychological Approaches to Pain Management, Second Edition: A Practitioner’s Handbook. Second Edition. New York: The Guilford Press, 2002.