Counselling Skills

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Stages of an interview
Interviews require the use of skills – for example, careful listening, noting nonverbal cues, monitoring the progress of what a client is saying while participating and taking notes, and require careful planning and preparation. A counselling interview (taken from ICCS Diploma of Counselling Participants’ manual) is structured by a number of phases in the session. They are: * Phase 1- Arrival (5 mins)

* Phase 2- Connecting (10 mins)
* Phase 3- Exploring the client’s world (30 mins)
* Phase 4- Taking action (10 mins)
* Phase 5- Closure (5 mins)

Communication techniques including counselling micro skills
Good communication techniques are imperative to the counselling session. 1) The counsellor aims to get the client to talk freely and openly. Micro skills used: Attending behaviour, such as appropriate eye contact, attentive body language, and communicates genuineness. 2) The counsellor tries to clarify and gather information from the client Micro skills used: Active listening, reflection of content/ paraphrasing to clarify. Use open and closing questions, and summarising to gather more information. Use minimal prompts, encouragers and reflection of feeling. 3) The counsellor offers empathy and understanding to the client and builds rapport, relationship and trust. Micro skills used: Reflection of feeling, warmth, genuineness, respect and congruence.

Communication barriers and resolution strategies
A communication barrier is anything that prevents one from receiving and understanding the messages others use to convey their ideas, thoughts and information. These barriers may be related to the message, internal barriers related to thoughts and feelings, or external barriers. Internal barriers include: fatigue, disinterest, poor listening skills, past experiences with the client, home or work problems. (QCOSS, 2007) External barriers include: noise and other distractions, unpleasant environment, problems with technology or equipment. (QCOSS, 2007) Skilled listeners attempt to be objective by consciously trying to understand the speaker without letting their personal opinions influence the message of the speaker’s words. They try to understand what the client wants to communicate, not what they want to understand. Effective counsellors will use alternate resolution strategies to overcome barriers, such as interpreter services, communication boards, translating equipment, sign language, and referrals to other professionals if required.

Aim of counselling interview
The main aim of the counselling relationship is the view to Phase 4- Termination. The counselling interview is to empower the client into making clear decisions, expressing an understanding and non-judgemental observation whilst building a trust relationship, and to assist in goal setting if required.

Observational techniques, including facial expressions, non- verbal behaviour, posture and silences. A study by Albert Mehrabian in 1971 provided some interesting information about the relative importance of verbal and non-verbal messages in determining the receiver's impression of the sender's emotions. On average, words contribute to 7% of total influence, while tone of voice and visual clues contributed 38% and 55% respectively. (Mehrabian. A, 1971) Gerard Egan defined the acronym SOLER as part of his “Skilled Helper” staged approach to counselling. It is a non-verbal listening process used in communication. The following was retrieved from Steven Lucas’ (2012) Counselling Central webpage: S: Sitting squarely says “I’m here with you, I’m available to you.” Turning your body away from another person while you talk to him or her can lessen your degree of contact with that person. If, for any reason, facing the person squarely is too threatening for them, then an angled position may be more helpful. O: Adopt an open posture. Crossed arms and/or crossed legs can be a sign of lessened involvement...
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