n. In a therapeutic context, a phrase that the practitioner uses to present a clarifying response in the form of a tentative question concerning the patient's feelings or mental state.
Techniques that are encouraged include validation (“What a tough situation”); “tentafiers” (“Do you mind if I ask you . . . ”); strength identification (“You’re a great brother for being so worried about him”); and empathetic responses (“It sounds like you’re feeling anxious because of all these rumors”).
—Alice Gregory, “R U There?,” The New Yorker, February 09, 2015
Reflecting tells the person who you are listening to that you understand them, and allows you to passively challenge statements for clarity.
  • I hear you saying………..
  • Sounds like……………….
  • You believe………………….
Statements that start like this are known as “Tentafiers” and they avoid introducing any opinion, advice, or talk of your experience.
—Chris, “reflective listening for improved communication,” Pennsylvania Echoes, May 04, 2011
2003 (earliest)
…up to two parts: a group of words conveying the tentative nature of the helper's reflection of feeling that I call a tentafier, plus a feeling word.
—Paula B. Poorman, Microskills and Theoretical Foundations for Professional Helpers, Allyn and Bacon, January 14, 2003
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