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Definition: A skill that focuses on the content and cognitive portion of the client’s message rather than on the affective (feeling) component.The content of the message is emphasized as a way to communicate understanding to the client.You restate the client’s message, using your own words.

Helps to:

Appropriate to use when:

Intersperse paraphrasing with other skills

Inappropriate use:

Don’t parrot or mimick response

When client is experiencing extreme emotional response or reaction, instead you want to reflect feelings


In video example #1: James, the social worker says “Okay, okay. So, from your point of view then, if your mom would just back off things would be better.” By restating Anthony’s message, James communicates his understanding of the conflicts within their relationship.

In video example #2: James the social worker effectively uses a paraphrase to gain insights into the nature of Anthony’s relationships with peers. Suspecting gang activity, James brings focus to this possibility when he states, “Oh, you’ve got some sort of status at school.”

In video example #3: Nicole, the social worker is able to restate what Maria has just said.What Maria wants in her life is a mom to take care of her and a pet, just like the other kid’s in her school.Maria is starting to acknowledge that her mom is not capable of taking care of her right now. By paraphrasing what Marie just said, there is now the possibility of helping Maria deal more openly with her feelings of sadness and anger.

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