January 24, 2022

Rachel McCrickard, LMFT

From our Founder

Each week, our founder, Rachel, writes about her learnings and reflections in our newsletter, Mondays with Motivo. Sign up below to receive it in your inbox.

Deep listening, loving speech

January 24, 2022


By: Rachel McCrickard

Hi, friends!

One of my favorite authors, activists, and teachers passed away this past week – Zen master, Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh was a widely known and highly respected peace activist, Vietnamese monk and mindfulness teacher. During his 95 years on this earth, he wrote over 100 books on the practice of mindfulness, global ethics and peace. 

I’m not the type to devour a lot of books because I’m a bit of a slow reader and I’m also easily distracted (meaning, I fall asleep). Typically, I prefer to listen to audio books or podcasts. However, I have 20 or so Thich Nhat Hanh books and I’ve read every one of them. His books are typically short, 100 pages or so, with easy-to-digest chapters. For me, they are the kind of books that I can pick up and read for 30 minutes and learn something I can immediately apply.

One of my favorite Thich Nhat Hanh books is The Art of Communicating – it’s a great read for therapists. It shares insight on how to communicate with yourself, first, and then how to communicate compassionately with others.

An excerpt from the book reads, 

“There are two keys to effective and true communication. The first is deep listening. The second is loving speech. Deep listening and loving speech are the best instruments I know for establishing and restoring communication with others and relieving suffering.”

I can’t think of any better way to enter a conversation with a loved one, a colleague, or a client then with deep listening and loving speech.

When I envision deep listening, I think of the “therapist stance” of leaning forward, giving direct eye contact, nodding my head, and listening with the intention of helping the other person suffer less.

When I hear the words loving speech, I envision repeating back what the person told me, asking if I heard them correctly, resisting the urge to elaborate from my own experiences and responding with compassion, empathy, and kindness.

My goal is to enter into every important conversation, especially difficult ones,  with the intention of deep listening and loving speech. Deep listening. Loving speech.

Thich Nhat Hanh has taught me so much about what it means to be a therapist, a friend, a sister, a partner, and a colleague. I honor his life today and I’m grateful for the impact his words and teachings have had on me.

I’m curious, what great teachers inspire your work as a therapist? If you want to share, I’d love to know.



Rachel McCrickard, LMFT
CEO/Founder, Motivo

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