Write an essay explaining the role of basic counselling skills in effective counselling. You can refer to the role-plays and live skills demonstrations you have observed/watched so far. You need also to consider each of the micro-skills listed below:
- Demonstrating empathy,
- Reflecting on content,
- Reflecting on feelings,
- Asking open-ended questions.
How are they utilized in facilitating effective counselling session? What role do they play in a helping process? What are the risks and limitations of each of them?
Counseling involves the process of a counselor and a client agreeing on a time frame in order to meet and explore difficulties which mostly features the client's emotions and stressful feelings. The counselor assists the client to view situations more clearly and probably from a different perspective. With this kind of help, the client is able to concentrate on behavior, experiences, and feelings in particular. The goal here is for the client to finally exude positive change by utilizing the holistic approach to everyday life. In order to achieve this objective, the counselor and the client have to establish an environment of trust where the relationship is governed by an act of confidentiality (Carkhuff 2017). Professionally, the counselor must create rapport with the client and explain the rules and ethical moralities governing the field of counseling that always underscores confidentiality. The client has to first accept every term provided such as the revealing of private information if there is any danger to life before beginning a journey of successful counseling. The counselor, therefore, has the duty to acquire and display the skills required to ensure that the whole process of counseling becomes seamless. Creating rapport and displaying empathy are two of the most important skills a counselor should dispense nevertheless, they thrive under the same roof of effective communication skills. The counselor must listen actively, seek clarification, reflect on the issue at hand and most importantly possess the skills to question the client effectively without coming off as rude, judgmental, arrogant, controlling and prejudicial (Wosket & Page 2013). Therefore, these basic skills of counseling have a significant role in effective counseling sessions and a counselor should practice them for successful counseling.
Counseling is an approach that is usually utilized in helping clients to deal with their experiences ranging from an intellectual point through to emotions. The feelings and thoughts of the client then become vital in dealing with the problems that may afflict the client. The skill of a counselor to be aware of this client-centered type of therapy is basic because it distinguishes the field of counseling to that of psychotherapy (Corey 2015). The latter motivates the client to look back on past experiences and perform a comparative analysis with life in the current time, possibly how they affect one another. This psychodynamic approach is different from counseling’s humanistic approach which does not concern itself that much with past experiences but rather focuses on the client’s current affairs and state of mind. Research conducted over the years on the field of counseling has shown that the counselor's skills are very important in determining the outcome of the counseling session as opposed to the type of therapy utilized. Having the undeterred belief of a client's ability to positively change the situation, enthusiasm and confidence are just among the type of behaviors the counselor should depict specifically for success (Okun & Kantrowitz 2014). Albeit no guarantees can be made on the onset of a counseling journey, a relationship that is both positive and good between the counselor and the client will go a long way to achieve the set goals and objectives.
The Importance of Counselor's Skills
Basic communication skills are the premise upon which counselors find their footing when attempting to interact with their clients. Basic listening skills is a priority for the counselor to be aware of the client's general well-being. The counselor has the orientation and inclination to gain the knowledge of the client's state of mind by listening carefully to the client's narration without unnecessary interruptions. The client, on the other hand, is motivated and encouraged by the counselor’s undivided attention to share experiences without having to hide anything. The client feels the care and support from the counselor through this act of listening. Most of the communication is non-verbal and therefore the counselor's body language will speak a lot about how the client's message is being received. Basic skills such as maintaining eye contact, avoiding surrounding distractions, nodding, posture, leaning forward and body movements help the counselor to solely attend to the client's needs of acceptance, understanding, and empathy at that moment in time (Ivey Ivey & Zalaquett 2013).
Empathy is a counselor’s skill to basically try and walk in the client’s shoe. This skill is sensitive and many people have completely explored it in a wrong manner while trying to discharge their counseling duties. Displaying empathy requires the counselor to perceive the client’s experience, relay this acquired perception back to the client in an attempt to clarify and enlarge the meaning of the client’s own experience. It is simply the counselor identifying with the client and showing that both of them are sharing the same experience. However, having the knowledge of how a client feels is a completely different thing and words that communicate that thought should be avoided. The phrase “I know how you feel” is always misunderstood for displaying empathy and many clients may take offense of that shallow analysis of a client’s whole life (Clark 2014). The ability to display empathy as a skill by a counselor is to attend to the client both non-verbally and verbally, paraphrase the client’s content and reflect on the feelings of the client and messages of implicit nature. The counselor’s behavior of giving the client all the attention that is full of support and acceptance determines the former’s ability to attend to the client. Paraphrasing what the client had communicated is usually a tricky part for the counselor to ensure an effective counseling session.
The skill of being genuine in a counseling situation is the counselors' opportunity to free themselves too. The portrayal of genuineness involves the counselor corresponding the outward appearance against inner feelings. What the counselors say and how they behave must be congruent to the inner emotions of not being pretentious, non-defensiveness and not employing role-playing at all. Every counselor should be true to oneself and only agree to help a client on matters of complete comfort so that hypocrisy does not creep out to the mistrust, anger, confusion, m and despair of the client during the counseling session (Capuzzi & Gross 2013). Another skill for effective counseling is the positive regard that is unconditional. The counselor displays the ability of acceptance, caring and nurture. The counselor portrays warmth by verbally and non-verbally accepting and responding to the client’s information without judging or critiquing it. The counselor also communicates respect by saying and believing human’s inherent nature to succeed in life. And as such, everyone as the strength and capacity to overcome life’s obstacles and the right to choose a different path to achieve success (Wosket & Page 2013).
Communication Skills in Counseling
The act of utilizing open-ended questions by the counselor helps the client to freely explore and clarify feelings and thoughts. This questioning process requires the counselor not to intentionally limit the nature of answers given by the client to a simple yes or no. Requesting for a particular information or response will box the client into a corner of very short and brief responses. The counselor should provide an environment of exploration, therapeutic healing and to not assume the role of an interrogator for each question asked (Nelson-Jones 2015). The approach is to paraphrase or reflect on the client's responses in order to encourage an atmosphere of sharing and eliminate redundancy.
The counselor’s skill of interpretation must go beyond the client's message but the latter should still be able to familiarize with it. In this instance, the counselor provides a new reason or meaning to the client's messages and also explain particular thoughts, behaviors, and feelings. The client is given the opportunity to gain a new perspective on the problems and connect event statements that seem to be isolated. The client can identify patterns and themes and conclusively portray a whole new category of understanding. The counselor can provide an interpretation during the session to direct the client’s concentration on a particular aspect of the problem or ultimately create a goal (Carkhuff 2017). For effective counseling, the counselor's interpretation should be concise and concrete and should be delivered experimentally through empathy. The interpretations should be exploited sparingly and a skilled counselor is aware that not any rejection or resistance of a client to an interpretation is proof that the former is right.
Basically, effective counseling requires counselors to possess certain skills for success. These basic counseling skills play a significant role for the counselor to assist a client to solve a major problem. Since the session of counseling is agreed upon voluntarily, the counselor governed by rules and ethics pertaining to the counseling field should employ these skills for a successful counseling experience. Communication skills become the foundation of every counselor's mission to introduce positive change in a client's present life. Focus on current affairs distinguishes counseling from psychotherapy and therefore an immediate rapport with the client helps the counselor to gain the trust and belief of the former in solving present problems. The counselor's listening skills, the portrayal of empathy, genuineness, unconditional positive regard, being concrete, applying open questions, self-disclosure, interpretation and providing information and removing obstacles that hinder positive change are the basic skills that play a vital role in realizing an effective counseling session.
Capuzzi, D., & Gross, D. R. (Eds.). (2013). Introduction to the counseling profession. Routledge.
Carkhuff, R. (2017). Toward effective counseling and psychotherapy: Training and practice. Routledge.
Clark, A. J. (2014). Empathy in counseling and psychotherapy: Perspectives and practices. Routledge.
Corey, G. (2015). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy. Nelson Education.
Ivey, A. E., Ivey, M. B., & Zalaquett, C. P. (2013). Intentional interviewing and counseling: Facilitating client development in a multicultural society. Nelson Education.
Nelson-Jones, R. (2015). Basic counseling skills: a helper's manual. Sage.
Okun, B., & Kantrowitz, R. (2014). Effective helping: Interviewing and counseling techniques. Nelson Education.
Wosket, V., & Page, S. (2013). Supervising the counselor: A cyclical model. Routledge.
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