ABC Level 3 Certificate in counselling skills Assignment 8 ‘Definitions of Counselling skills’ Unit 3, Criterion 1. 3 The skills used in counselling, vary from model to model, here are definitions of the skills used in person centred counselling, Attentiveness and rapport building Being attentive means giving all of your physical attention to another person so that you are fully present for them. This will help you to notice what the client is NOT saying, by noticing their body language, and also their tone and pace of voice.
The use of non-verbal cues and the counsellor’s own body language conveys to the client that he is interested in what the client has to say. (Bolton 1979). Managing silences from the client shows attentiveness, as sometimes clients will need silences to process what has been said, and allowing them the silence and time to do can help them find their own solution to the problem. (Course handout 2013). The way that a counsellor sits during the session also shows attentiveness, by adopting the SOLER position.
S – Sit squarely (facing the client) O – Adopt an open posture L – Lean forward slightly at times
E – Maintain eye contact R – Relax By sitting squarely, the counsellor shows the client that he is ready to give the client his full attention, adopting an open posture, means not crossing arms or legs, which can create a ‘barrier’. By leaning forward slightly the counsellor shows an interest in the client, and eye contact should be maintained but not staring as this can be un-nerving. Being relaxed helps both the client and the counsellor and makes for a better session. Egan believed that if you can show the above behaviours to people, then they will feel that you are being supportive towards them. Egan 2000). Rapport Building Rapport is the foundation of the counselling relationship; it helps to build trust, respect and a good feeling of comfort. (Cormier & Hackney 1993). It is the ability to relate to others in a way that creates a level of trust and understanding. It is a ‘relationship’ between two people who are ‘on the same ‘wavelength’. (Inspirational solutions 2013) Rapport building starts from the first moment that the counsellor and client meet, so it is important to make a good first impression.
The counsellor should introduce himself by his first name, as this creates a feeling of equality between the two people. If the client is, disclosing something to the counsellor that he himself has experience of, the counsellor may use self-disclosure and tell the client about his experience. This can help to further build rapport between counsellor and client, as it implies that the two have something in common. (Course handout 2013). In order to continue to build a good rapport with a client the counsellor need to be attentive, open, congruent and non-judging. (Course handout 2013). Active listening including minimal encouragers
Active listening is important because, it sends a message to the client that the counsellor is fully present and when a client feels that he is being listened to, he is more likely to open up about the difficulties that brought him to counselling. (Course handout 2013). It is a real and honest desire to understand the client. (London Deanery 2012). The ways in which a counsellor shows he is actively listening to the client are, by using minimal encouragers, these are non-verbal signs that show that the counsellor is listening to what is being said and encourage the client to continue .
They include, head nodding, eyebrow raising, using sounds like mmm or aha. Maintaining good eye contact with the client also indicates that the counsellor is listening, as does the way he sits during the session again adopting the SOLER position. (Course handout 2013). The counsellor will also use reflections and paraphrases as this, as well as checking understanding with the client, proves that the counsellor has heard what was said. (Course handout 2013). Managing Silence Silence from a client may seem a little strange but it can be a very important stage for the client to go through.
It allows time for the client to collect their thoughts, and process what has happened in the session. The counsellor should let the client be silent but still be attentive, but not try to rush the client or fill in the gaps or silence, as this would be insensitive and could damage the counsellor-client relationship. The counsellor should track the client, if the silence is going on for a long time. Sometimes the client gives a sign, like maybe looking directly at the counsellor, and catching his eye the counsellor could encourage the client to try to continue by being gentle and accepting of what was said before the silence. Course handout 2013). Empathic listening, Unconditional positive regard and Congruence Empathic listening “means entering the private perceptual world of another and becoming thoroughly at home in it. It involves being sensitive, moment-by-moment, to the changing felt meanings which flow in this person, to the fear or rage or tenderness or confusion or whatever that he or she is experiencing. It means temporarily living in the other’s life, moving about in it delicately without making judgements” (Rogers 1980 A Way of Being).
What this means is that the counsellor puts himself in the client’s shoes and sees things through the client’s eyes, (his internal frame of reference). When a counsellor does this, he knows and feels what the client is feeling as if he himself is feeling it, and so creates empathy and compassion with him. Empathetic listening is listening with intent to understand the other person’s frame of reference and feelings. You must listen with your ears, your eyes and your heart. (Ty Pastore family 2010). Using empathic listening in counselling sessions indicates to the client that he is being listened to, understood and not judged.
This gives the client the confidence to carry on and ultimately find his own way through his difficulties. There are four levels of empathy, these range from; 0 – Where no evidence that empathy is shown 1- Where there is some understanding of the client’s problem but the counsellor loses some of the client’s feelings in the response. 2- Shows understanding and acceptance of feeling 3- Understands beyond the level of the client’s immediate awareness, showing an understanding of underlying feelings. (Course handout 2013). Unconditional positive regard means accepting and supporting someone regardless of what they say or do.
When a counsellor shows unconditional positive regard for a client it helps the client accept and take responsibility for themselves. It means not judging people, even when what they say or do goes against your own belief system. (Rogers 1980). Congruence is being genuine and honest with clients, not putting on a front or mask and being true to oneself. (Course handout 2013). It is one of the core conditions of person centred counselling and I believe that without congruence, the other skills used in counselling would suffer. As everything hinges on the counsellor being honest and real for the client.
If a counsellor feels bored during a session and the feelings persist, then the counsellor (if he is being congruent) will tell the client how he is feeling. This is not to hurt or embarrass the client, and does not mean that the client is a boring person, it is to be honest with him and discuss and find the reasons why. This will lead to a deeper understanding and trust between counsellor and client. (Course handout 2013). The counsellor might say, “I realise that I am finding this session a bit boring, and I wonder how it is feeling for you”.
This lets the client know how the counsellor is feeling and opens up a chance to discuss the reasons. (Course handout 2013). Effective questioning Use of effective questioning is helpful because it checks understanding and allows clients to explore their feelings more deeply. Effective open questions require answers that are more than one word, they start with ‘What, When, How, Where’. “How would you feel if… ” encourages a dialogue. ‘Why’ is also an open question but in counselling it is not overly used as it can sound intrusive or interrogating. (Course handout 2013).
Using closed questions such as, ‘Do you’ or ‘Are you’, give the client the opportunity to give a one-word answer, which is usually yes or no and too many of these will close down the conversation. (Course handout 2013). Questions should never be leading or directing, ‘You’re not going to give up your job are you? ’ is an example of a leading question. It could sound to the client that the counsellor thinks that giving up his job is the wrong thing to do. (Course handout 2013). Counsellors should avoid asking too many questions at once, because this can confuse the client and may sound like an interrogation.
This could lead the client to withdraw from the conversation. Course handout 2013). Reflecting, Paraphrasing and Summarising. Reflecting and paraphrasing are ways in which counsellors repeat back to clients using their own words, words that are similar and mean the same as those used by the client. The difference between reflecting and paraphrasing is that reflecting is concerned with the client’s feeling and paraphrasing is concerned with the facts. ‘You feel angry because you lost your job’ reflects how the client is feeling. ‘You’re saying that you lost your job and it made you angry, am I correct? that is picking up on the facts. By using reflections and paraphrasing counsellors can check understanding and show empathy, it can help the client to realise their feelings too. (Course handout 2013). Summarising can be done anytime during the session, it gives a brief account of the main points that have been disclosed by the client. It can be quite a long statement especially if the client has spoken about lots of issues. It proves to the client that the counsellor has been listening, and it can challenge the client by noticing things that they might not even be aware of.
If a client gets ‘stuck’ then summarising is a good way to get them going again. It is not mandatory to summarise during a counselling session. (Course handout 2013). Focusing After reflecting and paraphrasing, it may be helpful to focus on something, especially if the client has mentioned many things. Deal with any crisis first or begin with problems which seemed to cause the client the most pain. Focus on a problem where the benefit outweighs the cost, that means that the client will receive a benefit from dealing with this particular issue, but not won’t have to do something in order to get it, that he will find too demanding at this time. Course handout 2013). The counsellor can ask the client, ‘What do you feel is the most important thing that we have discussed in the last twenty minutes? ’. This will then allow the client to think about what has been said and hopefully pick out the issue that is the causing him the most pain at that time. The client and counsellor can then move forward and explore that issue in more depth. (Course handout 2013). Immediacy, Challenge and Self-disclosure Immediacy is direct ‘you me’ talk, between the counsellor and the client. It hould be offered with sensitivity, and as opinion rather than truth, because it is what the counsellor is feeling and not a fact about the client. It should be only be used once a good respectful relationship has been formed between the counsellor and client, because if that relationship is not present, the client may find it intimidating or threatening. It is a skill, which helps with interpersonal relationships, because it encourages people to get into a real relationship right at that moment. It deals with problems when they arise, it is saying how you feel whether positive or negative and dealing with it.
If a counsellor had a problem with a client and didn’t feel like the session was moving forward he might say to the client, ‘I’m wondering where we are, we seem to be a bit stuck, let’s see if we can find out why’. This can then improve the relationship, and ultimately the therapeutic session. (Course handout 2013). Challenging clients should only be done if there is a good level of trust in the relationship and should be offered carefully and thoughtfully. If a client is saying one thing but their body language or previous comments say something different, it would be useful to challenge the client. You say that you feel fine, but yet you are still crying’. This can be a shock for the client, but if done gently can open up possibilities yet to be discovered, and empower the client to make a positive change. If it is done insensitively, it can be destructive to the counselling relationship. (Course handout 2013).. Disclosing one’s self to a client means telling the client something about you or your experiences, the only time that this is acceptable is if it is for the good of the client. It should be done only when the client and counsellor have built a deep trust and empathic relationship.
It lets the client know that they are not the only one who has felt this way, or had had that happen to them, and it can give the client the courage to carry on. It shows genuineness and can be very important when building trust with a client, it equalises the relationship because the client realises that he has something in common with the counsellor. The counsellor might say, ‘I know how you feel about your child leaving home, because when my son moved to Australia I went to pieces’. A short succinct statement lets the client know that the counsellor really does know how he feels.
However, it is not useful to the client if the counsellor discloses too much and ‘burdens’ the client with their own problems. (Course handout 2013). Working at an appropriate pace Working at an appropriate pace allows the client to feel listened to, respected and understood. Working at an unhurried pace lets the client know that he can take his time, he has the space to reflect and ponder, that the time has been allocated for the client, and he can use it as he wishes. The counsellor will never rush the client and if the client feels the need to be silent for a time then the counsellor will be silent for that time.
The client sets the pace and the counsellor follows. (Course handout 2013). Checking understanding with the speaker By reflecting, paraphrasing and summarising the counsellor can check that he has understood what the client has said. It is better to check understanding with the client if they are being ambiguous, than to try to figure out what the client is saying, because the counsellor may lose focus or miss something important, whilst he is working out what has been said. It also show the client that the counsellor is listening, and there for him.
Like reflecting, paraphrasing and summarising when the counsellor checks understanding with a client the words that the counsellor might use can make the client see the problem in a different way. Counsellor: “I just want to make sure that I understand what you are saying, you’re saying………………… ” Client: “yes I suppose I am saying that, I hadn’t thought of it like that before… ” (Course handout 2013). Bibliography ABC level 3 certificate in Counselling Course 2013 Anon. , 2010. TY Pastore Family. [Online]. Available at: http://typastorefamily. com/empatheticlistening. html [Accessed 25 March 2013].
Anon. , 2012. Inspirational Solutions. [Online] Available at: http://www. inspirationalsolutions-nlp. co. uk/theimportanceofrapport. pdf [Accessed 25 March 2013]. Anon. , 2012. London Deanery. [Online] Available at: http://www. faculty. londondeanery. ac. uk/e-learning/careers-advice/core_career_counselling_skills. pdf [Accessed 25 March 2013]. Egan, G. , 1990. The Skilled Helper. 4th ed. California: Wadsworth. Hackney, L. C. &. H. , 1993. he Professional Counsellor A process guide to helping. 2nd ed. Boston: Alan & Bacon. Rogers, c. , 1980. A Way of being. Boston: Houghton & Mifflin. .
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