Developing Skills in the HEC Communication Competency: Diagnostic Listening and the ADEPT Technique


Autumn Fiester


Proficient listening has been viewed as a critical skill in HEC (healthcare ethics consultation) from the inception of the practice, and it is included in the field’s set of core competencies that practitioners need to master to become a certified healthcare ethics consultant (HEC-C). Despite its centrality to the work of HEC, practitioners and trainees receive little or no formal training in the craft of listening, and there are few available resources that ethics consultants and trainees can access to enhance their listening skills. This dearth of training in the skill of listening belies the enormous challenge of listening proficiently. Although many clinical ethics researchers refer to the need for “active listening” in HEC, the term is employed without description or instruction. In this article, I argue that a more helpful depiction of the requisite skill is conveyed by the term “diagnostic listening.” After describing the strategy of diagnostic listening, I introduce a novel technique for honing the listening skills needed for HEC: the ADEPT Model. The ADEPT Model is a tool that can begin to fill the training gap for this important skill.


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