Counseling Skills & Techniques

Written by ralph heibutzki
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Counseling Skills & Techniques
Learning how to watch a client's body language is an important counselling skill. (happy business lady image by Paul Moore from Fotolia.com)

Counselling becomes an attractive and necessary option when people find themselves unable to handle the speed and complexity of modern life. Counsellors use several different techniques---such as closed and open-ended questions, active listening and paraphrasing---to evaluate the situation, while searching for ways to change the behaviour. In other cases, the counsellor may have to use more aggressive methods to break a client's limited thought patterns.

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Open-Ended And Closed Questions

Learning how to draw clients out through open-ended and closed questions is an important tool in a counsellor's arsenal, according to the website basic-counseling-skills.com. Open-ended questions require no "correct" answer, and are especially useful in helping to elicit information. The closed question, on the other hand, is better suited to getting short, succinct answers to basic questions, or when the counsellor senses the need to bring chatty clients back on track.

Recording a Thought Journal

Cognitive behavioural therapists will ask clients to put down their thoughts in a journal. This stems from a belief that thoughts cause feelings and emotions, says askmikethecounselor2.com. Clients are typically asked to write down whatever situations they encounter, summarise their feelings on a scale of 0 to 100, and identify what caused them. Over time, it should become possible to categorise certain thoughts, and develop ways to counter or replace them.

Active Listening

In this technique, the counsellor makes a point of saying little, while conveying attentiveness, empathy and acceptance. The counsellor focuses on the client's body language, phraseology and speech style to gain a deeper insight into particular behaviours, according to basic-counseling-skills.com. If the client is not talkative, the counsellor may have to ask more open-ended questions to help them make a proper assessment. As its title implies, active listening requires great concentration and attention to detail.

Paraphrasing

Sometimes it becomes necessary to paraphrase, or succinctly restate what the counsellor believes the client has just said, to ensure that the situation is understood correctly, according to basic-counseling-skills.com. This technique is considered particularly helpful in eliminating or reducing the importance of extraneous material that may cloud the counsellor's assessment of the situation. Moderation in vocal tone is essential to making this technique work. Often, the way things are said is remembered longer than how they were said.

Identifying Limited Thought Patterns

Counsellors learn to recognise patterns of limited thinking that may prevent clients from living to their full potential, says the website, askmikethecounselor2.com, which identifies eight different ways that this can happen. Filtering, for example, is characterised by an overemphasis on negative experiences to the exclusion of positive ones. By identifying these types of thought patterns, and showing how they impact the client, the counsellor hopes to make a breakthrough and change the behaviour.

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