A technique refers to a particular method, skills, or art applied to a particular task. It is a particular method of doing an activity usually involving practical skills.

Counseling technique is a particular method a counselor uses to adapt to a particular situation.

They are specific procedures and skills used by the counselor to achieve his counseling goals and objectives.

These techniques help the counselor to not only form effective relationship with the client but also influences how clients view themselves, their world and how they interact with others.

Types of techniques

There are three major types of techniques used in counseling:

  1. Directive counseling technique
  2. Non- directive counseling technique
  3. Electic counseling technique

Directive counseling/prescriptive counseling by E.G. Williamson

Counselor-centered: the counselor directs the client to take steps in order to resolve his conflicts

It is based on the assumption that the client cannot resolve his problems because of lack of information

The counselor plays an important role: he tries to direct the thinking of the client by informing, explaining, interpreting and advising

It gives more importance to intellectual aspects than emotional aspects

This approach is good to address the problems relating to educational and vocational adjustment. It is more useful where the individual wants information and advice for choice of a career

According to this view point the counseling is an interview in which the counselor asks a series of standardized questions and each carries a short answer. The counselor does not allow the development of expression and feelings. He leads as an expert, evaluates and gives suggestion vice

Basic Assumptions of Directive Counseling:

According to Willy, the following can be the basic assumptions of directive counseling-

1. Competency in giving Advice-: The counselor posses the best training experience and information. He is more competent to provide an advice to problem.

2. Counseling as an intellectual process -: A client’s intellectual is not destroyed as a result of mal-adjustment. Hence counseling is primarily an intellectual process .It stresses upon the intellectual aspects of a person instead of emotional aspects of the personality.

3. Counseling objectives is problem solving situation-: The objective counseling are achieved through problem solving situation.

4. Client’s incapability of solving the problems-: The counselee does not possess the capability for solving the problem always.

Steps of directive counseling

Williamson has given six steps of directive counseling:

  1. Analysis – : It includes collection of information about the individual which can be collected through structured interviews, psychological case history methods, Interaction with family members, friends, etc.
  2. Synthesis – involves organizing information in the logical manner to analyze the individual in terms of his qualifications, assets, potentials, liability adjustment, cultural background, habits etc.
  3. Diagnosis – consists of the interpretation of the data in relation to the nature and problem, the causes of problems.
  4. Prognosis – prediction is made about the future development of the problem.
  5. Counseling – This is to bring about adjustment and re-adjustment to the individual in relation to his problem. Attitudes and interest of the individual are considered during the counseling. It emphasis the individual to develop life cycle where an effort in the positive direction could lead to success and success in turn could lead to further efforts and motivations.
  6. Follow up – An individual may be able to solve immediate problems through counseling but new problems may occur or the original problem may re-occur. Follow-up with the client is extremely necessary. The role of counselor is important as he has to make the individual understand and accept his strength and also his weakness and faults

Role of the counselor in directive counseling

Under this process the counselor

  • Plans the counseling process,
  • Analyze the problem,
  • Identifies the triggers to the problem
  • Identifies the exact nature of the problem and
  • Provide various options/solutions to the problems of the client

Merits of directive counseling

  • Less time consuming hence can be adopted when early solution is required That technique is considered as a most economic approach and important for student counseling because it is less time consuming and student who lack experience are easily influenced by the counselor’s experience and specialize knowledge.
  • Best used for interaction between less matured and less intelligent client and experienced counselor

The students feel that the counselor has superior Knowledge and therefore a professional relation takes place. The relation is the base of this kind of approach.

  • A submissive and highly emotionalized counseling of student can cultivate self-confidence in the individual.
  • A relationship is based on dignity to help the student to reach his goal.


  • The client never becomes independent of the counselor
  • Personal autonomy and integrity of the client is not respected
  • It will not help the client to develop own attitudes towards own problems

Non-directive counseling/permissive counseling

The chief exponent of this type of counseling is Carl R. Rodgers.

It is the reverse of directive counseling i.e. the Client-centered process.

The counselee is the pivot of the whole counseling process and the main function of the counselor is to create an atmosphere in which the client can work out his/her problems

Emotional aspects are stressed rather than intellectual aspect


Philosophy and Basic Assumptions

  • Optimistic/Positive view of humanity
  • People innately strive toward becoming fully functioning i.e. Humans are growth oriented, individualistic
  • It is therapist beliefs and attitudes in the inner resources of the client that create the therapeutic climate for growth.
  • Clients’ self-healing is activated as they become empowered
  • Clients actualize potential for growth, wholeness, spontaneity,
  • Inner-directedness.
  • Client primarily brings about change, not the therapist i.e. Client is in charge, responsible
  • Self regard, conditions of worth


Steps in client-centered counseling

Carl Rodgers has given the following steps in non-directive counseling:

  1. Defining the problematic situation – the client defines the problematic situation
  2. Free expression of feelings – the client is made aware that s/he can free express him/herself and the counselor approves of that
  3. Development of insight – the counselor goes on thinking regarding the client’s new set of feeling along with the development of the client’s insight and he goes classifying all those new feelings
  4. Classification positive and negative feelings – the counselor identifies the negative and positive feelings and classify them
  5. Termination of the counseling situation – the counselor looks for the point where he can terminate the counseling process. Either the counselor or the client can suggest for such termination

Techniques and Procedures

Techniques are secondary to therapist attitudes

Minimizes directive techniques, interpretation, questioning, probing, diagnosis, and collecting history.

Maximizes active listening and hearing, reflection of feelings, and clarification



  • Individual and group counseling
  • Student-centered teaching and learning
  • Parent-child relations and human relations training labs
  • Anxiety disorders, alcoholism, psychosomatic problems, agoraphobia, interpersonal difficulties, depression, cancer, personality disorders
  • Well suited for early phases of crisis intervention
  • Administration and management and systems and institutions



  • Helps the counselee to become independent and self-reliant and to attain the ability for self direction
  • Helps the client attain emotional integrity and reach full growth


  • More time consuming
  • The counselor’s passive attitude may irritate the client such that the client may hesitate to express feelings

Eclectic counseling by Thorne

This is a combination of both directive and non-directive counseling

The counselor is neither too passive nor too active but follows the middle course


  • Highly flexible
  • The method of counseling may change from client to client and from time to time
  • Freedom of choice and expression is open to both the counselor and the counselee
  • Experience of mutual confidence and faith is basic
  • The client and the philosophical framework are adjusted to serve the purposes of the relationship
  • Feelings of comfort are essential


Techniques used in different types of counseling for social work

Face to face

In this section, we shall look at these techniques as they are used by the counselor in the face to face interview: –

(1) Structuring

  • Structuring is done before the onset of the session and also during the session.
  • It is where the counselor explains to the counselee the practical mechanisms of the counseling relationship i.e. what may take place in the counseling session.
  • This includes explaining the following
  • limits of counseling,
  • the roles of counselor and counselee,
  • the length and frequency of the sessions,
  • The fees and the goals of counseling.
  • This helps to dispel misconceptions and anxiety. E.g. consider a situation where the counselee expects to be advised on their issues or to be given material help or even expecting the counselor to make decisions for them. This is clearly a misconception which is only cleared by the counselor when he explains the role and goal of counseling.


(2) Degree of lead

This is the kind of communication verbal or otherwise made by the counselor to help invite, direct or probe the client towards making a response. The counselor may use silence as an indication to the counselee that he is listening and ready to receive what the counselee has to say.

The counselor may also restate what the counselee has said in a question like tone. Consider this example:

Counselee: I do not know what to do. I am so confused!

Counselor: You are so confused?

Counselee: Yes. My husband keeps quarrelling me……

The counselor may also reflect thee feelings that the counselee is trying to express back to them. This encourages the client to understand his feeling and talk more about it. An example would be:-

Counselee: My boss made noise at me yesterday and I felt bad.

Counselor: You felt very annoyed with your boss because he made  noise at you.

Counselee: Yes I felt angry because he criticized me in front of the junior staff. And you see it was not the first time he was doing that.

The counselor may also use verbal statements like “yes go on” or “tell me more about it” to encourage the client to continue talking.

(3) Timing of when to intervene

– This implies that counselor needs to do things at the appropriate time to maximize results. He needs to know when he should or should not act for success in the counseling process.

– For example, the counselor should not use the challenging or confrontation skill until the client is ready. An indication that the client is ready to receive  and engage/and/or confrontation is when he/she moves form talking about others to talking about self and from talking about the past to talking about not.


(4)  Regard to content

The counselor’s main concern is with the problem/issue being communicated by the client and not on the content.


(5) Selection of feelings

Other technique regards the selection of feelings to reflect to the counselee in order to get the counselee along certain channels which he deems important. For example a counselee may verbalize anger and hurt at the same time. The counselor will have to get one of the feelings that he deems important depending on the context and reflect to the counselee.


(6) Use of language

The counselor needs to be careful at the utterance of his words. This must be free of any judgment. Use of tentative language is useful. This is a language that suggests and gives the counselee room to agree, disagree clarify. It is also called emphatic language. The following are examples of emphatic language:

Sort of hear you say….”

Is like you were……”

Sick from you like you were….”

Its like you have not resolved..”


Group counseling

  • Group is made up of three or more people.
  • Group counseling involves individuals who are having difficulties they wish to resolve that are of a personal, educational, social, or vocational nature (Corey & Corey, 1992).
  • These groups are primarily run in educational institutions or agencies.
  • They deal with specific, non-pathological problems that members are aware of prior to joining and which do not involve major personality changes. For instance, group counseling may focus on how members achieve such goals as relating better to their families, becoming organized, or relaxing in the presence of supervisors at work.

Advantages of group counseling;

  • Lower costs – The group members may be put in one hall as opposed to the many rooms required for each person in individual counseling.
  • The time is better maximized while counseling a group. The charges for individual counseling range form five hundreds shillings per sessions while for a group of between ten to fifteen members the cost range from 2,500 per session. This has an effect of each member paying about two hundred and fifty shillings only.
  • The broader distribution of available counselors and therapists. One counselor can handle a group of up to fifteen members at a time thus reaching out to more people.
  • Group counseling is also more effective than individual counseling as group members practice new skills within the group and can benefit from the feedback and insight of other members and practitioners and also offer opportunity for modeling. Corey 200:3

Factors to consider in group counseling

Type of group

The techniques in a group counseling is where the counselor has to decide the type of group to form. The group may be either a close or an open one. According to Corey 2000 p 91, a closed group is one where no new members are added for the determined duration of this life. This offer stability of membership, enhancing continuity, and cohesion. Members are able to discuss and share openly and freely, thus enhancing the therapeutic effect.

An open group is one where members join and leave at will. New members replace the ones who are leaving. The new members often find difficulty becoming part of the group and the cohesion of the members is greatly interfered with.



The other technique is with regard to the membership of the group. This may either be voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary membership is where the members make the decision of being in the group have a commitment towards it and work towards achievement of the objectives. However, when expectations are not met, it may be hard to pull out of the group ad members May then find it a waste of time.

Involuntary membership is where the members have no interest in joining the group but are forced by circumstances.

Yalom (1985) says that to benefit from a group experience, a person must be highly motivated and that people with deeply entrenched unwillingness to enter to enter a group should not be accepted.


Size of the group

According to Corey 2000, the desirable size of the group depends on factors such as age of the clients type of the group experience of the group counselor and the type of the problem explored.


Frequency and length of meeting

Klein, Brabender & Fallon; 1994 say that no systematic research data is available to answer the question of what length of session is most desirable for what type of clients. At the same time Corey 2000 contends that for adults who are functioning relatively well, a two hour group meeting each week is enough to allow for some intensive work. The important thing is that as the counselor you ought to inform the members of how long they can expect each session to be. You can also adopt flexibility as one of the norms so that should the session extend a little longer due to the issues being handled it may be taken well by the members.


Meeting place.

Another technique in group counseling regards choice of the meeting place by the counselor. According to Corey 2000 privacy, a certain degree of attractiveness and a place that allows or face-to-face interaction are critical.

The counselor needs to choose a place that is convenient to all the members. The place should be relatively secluded and safe so that there are minimal interactions and enough privacy. The sitting arrangement during the sharing is usually a circle or semi-circle . It enhances face-to-face interaction. The meeting place should be made as attractive as possible.

Similar chairs are used for all the group members to de-emphasize class differences. There should be no tables or obstacles in between. The group members should be able to have a clear view of one another.


Group duration

Another technique is with regard to the duration of the group. This varies depending on the type of group, members and the group requirements. The duration for short term groups might well vary from several weeks to fifteen weeks. Some closed groups that have long term goals may last up to fifty weeks and some for over a year. (Corey 2000 pg 3)

The important thing for you as the counselor is to facilitate for the duration to be agreed at the onset of the groups so that the members can have a clear idea of the limit.



Another technique in group counseling is that of group development. One of the ways in which the counselor ensures that the group develops is to have a theme for each sessions.

This helps the group to focus and to be systematic in its movement.

According to Shulman (1979) the group process should support open expression of feeling and sharing of information relevant to the purpose of the group.

The counsellor also encourages group participation. Pavitt and Sackaroff (1990) discovered that members expect leaders to be enthusiastic and well organized, to encourage participation and to suggest procedures. This is fulfilled by the counselor asking a member to participate in the starting and when he/she finishes to prompt the neighbour to also share and in turn prompt the other neighbour. This goes on until all have shared. This is called sharing in around. The counselor also directs the sharing through giving instructions or a structured question to which the members will respond. According to Brandler and Roman (1991:4) sharing ideas and experiences fosters an atmosphere in which many positive in which many positive changes may occur. First, there is a sense of validation, of belonging, of universality of experience and feeling.

Group participation is also achieved when members are invited to respond to certain issues that came up from the sharing of some of the members. All issues raised by the members are equal in importance.


Keeping the group moving

Another technique in group counseling is for the counselor to keep the group moving using several interventions. These are as follows:-

The counselor should call the group to order when the time to start the activities of the day reaches.

Another intervention is effective structuring where the group is informed  of the activities of the day and the order with which they will follow each other. Time limits are also set.

The counselor also keeps the group moving by summarizing at various points what has been achieved so far. This is done especially a the end of each round of sharing where the ground covered is summarized.

An example would be where members had been asked to share an instance when they had a conflict with their parents and how they resolved it. After all the embers have shared, the counselor summarizes by saying something like “From the sharing some of the conflicts encountered are….(Mention them). Members resolved the conflicts through discussing with their parents, changing their attitude….(Mention)”

This gives the members a feeling of forward movement and motivation to move on.


Stages of Group Formation

In addition to pre-planning, effective group counseling leaders recognize that groups go through five stages: dependency, conflict, cohesion, interdependence, and termination.

  1. Dependency” or forming – At this time, group members are unsure of themselves and look to their leaders or others for direction. This process gives members an opportunity to explore who they are in the group and to begin establishing trust.
  2. Conflict,” or storming. This may be overt or covert. The type and amount of conflict that is generated relates to how much jockeying for position goes on in the group.
  3. Cohesion,” or norming, This can be defined as a spirit of “we-ness.” In it, members become closer psychologically and are more relaxed. Everyone feels included in the group and productive sharing begins to occur.
  4. Interdependence or Performing – the main work of the group is begun in this stage. Interdependence develops. Group members are able to assume a wide variety of constructive roles and work on personal issues. The level of comfort in the group increases too. This is a prime time of problem solving. It occupies about 50% of a typical group’s time.
  5. Termination or Adjourning stage – deals with termination. Issues of loss in separating from the group are raised. Celebrating the accomplishment of goals is also a primary focus within this stage.

Group Counseling Skills

As with other groups, leaders of effective counseling groups need to employ a variety of interpersonal skills (Corey & Corey, 1992). Among the most important of these are:

  1. Active listening skills, where leaders are sensitive to the language, tone, and nonverbal gestures surrounding members’ messages;
  2. Linking skills, where leaders help members recognize their similarities;
  3. Blocking skills, where leaders keep unfocused members from disrupting the group by either redirecting them or preventing them from monopolizing conversations; and
  4. Summarizing skills, where leaders help members become aware of what has occurred and how the group and its members have changed.

Empathy, personal warmth, courage, flexibility, inquiry, encouragement, and the ability to confront are vital skills too.

Counseling group leaders must wear many hats in helping their groups make progress. The more skills within the counselors’ repertoires the more effective they will ultimately become.

Skills used

Another technique in group counseling is use of skills. Like in face to face counseling, the skills of genuineness, unconditional positive regard and empathy are used. These three are also called core conditions)

Genuineness, unconditional positive regard and empathy

  • Here as the counselor you appreciate and prize all members fully and unconditionally in a non-judgmental way.
  • As the counselor you are also involved in the sharing just like the other group members. This enhances genuineness.
  • The application of the core conditions during the session facilitates deep sharing by the members, and cleaning or purging of emotions, which according to Wilson (1999) can take place with the group one member’s ability to come to grips with a particularly painful issue may stimulate others to deal with their own struggles.



Another skill used is structuring.  This has been discussed in detail previously and is where the counselor creates structure and desirable norms.

The counselor uses words of inclusion such as “we” and “out” to enhance the group’s cohesiveness.


Listening skills

The counselor also uses listening skills. These include active listening to the sharing of all the members. Silence skill is also used to allow for purging of emotions by members. For example when a member breaks down crying because whatever they are sharing is too emotional members remain quiet to allow him/her to finish crying and recollect him/herself.


Questioning, exploration, rephrasing and confrontation skills are also used by the counselor when responding to the members’ issues.

The counselor also uses group termination skills at the end of the session.

The counselor provides a summary of what has taken place during the session and the ground that has been covered. Group members are also complimented for their cooperation and participation (1999) the group leader should reward group members for their cooperation and participation. Finally group members’ are asked to summarize the insights each has gained from the session. A date for the next session is then set and agreed upon before dismissal of the members.


Group Dynamics

Another technique used in group counseling is group dynamics. One of the ways in which the counselor ensures that all the members, or an agreed quorum has been reached before starting. Then welcome the members to the session. Members who come in when the session is ongoing are acknowledged by being welcomed and updated as to the exercise that is being carried out. This way all the members feel prized and welcome to the session.

Group dynamics is also enhanced when the counselor has an awareness of what is happening to the group. This calls upon the counselor to be psychologically present for the members. This is accomplished by active listening and silence skills. Which allows the counselor to know when and which intervention to apply. The counselor is also able to tell when the members need more time and is able to take appropriate measures such as extending the session time. He is also able to tell when certain members need further follow up in individual counseling and he advises them on the same.


Role of a counselor in group counseling

  • Help members to understand themselves and their interaction to others
  • Provides a trusting environment in which members can work together supportively and safely.
  • Help in decision making to establish a group with the clients
  • Formulate policy on the group therapy with other therapeutic modalities
  • Provide guidelines to help build a trusting environment.


Challenges of group counseling

  • There can be personality conflict among the group members
  • It can make people uncomfortable
  • Privacy violation may occur as the individual talks about his problems in front of other people
  • Negative comments among the group members may occur
  • A person with social phobia is not able to express himself in front of people

Circumstances that will prevent a client from being recommended for group counseling

  • If the client is aggressive to other clients
  • Client’s refusal to participate in group therapy
  • Client who experience server external discomfort in groups
  • Clients who can’t tolerate strong emotions with clients
  • Having work schedules that conflict with that of regular group meetings
  • Client who for some reason are unfit for group therapy i.e. those who are prone to dropping out, getting stuck or acting in ways contrary to the interests of the group.



It is defined as any type of psychology service that is performed over the telephone by a professional therapist.

It is also defined as face to face counseling expect it is conducted over the telephone by a professional therapist.

It can either be individual or group.


Process of telephone counseling

1. Relationship building

This is whereby the client gets to introduce themselves to the counselor and the counselor also introduces himself and brings up something to ease the anxiety of the client as the client tells the counselor his issues.

2. Problem assessment

After the introduction, the counselor gets to collect and classify the information given to him by    the client and hence formulates a way to deal the situation at hand.

3. Goal setting

This is whereby they form a way of solving the issue by planning what to do, how to do it and when it will be more effective.

4. Termination

This is ending the session of counseling after having found the most suitable solution to improve the life of the client.


Advantages of telephone counseling

  1. It is less time consuming compared to face-to-face counseling
  2. It is convenient and private
  3. It is available and accessible to most of the population
  4. It provides anonymity
  5. It allows reflection and composure of thoughts.

Disadvantages of telephone counseling

  1. Reduced intimacy and trust
  2. It is uncomfortable and physically tiring- this is because of the long period one holds up the phone
  3. It might not be appropriate for suicidal and severely depressed persons
  4. It is unable to provide diagnosis


Interview in counseling

Interview is a face to face technique of obtaining information for a variety of purposes. However, the counseling interview has therapy as its goal.

One of the basic requisites of an interview is that the interviewer must create a rapport by building trust and confidence of the interviewee. Creating rapport means:-

  • Being friends – crating a friendly atmosphere
  • Being welcoming – making a counselee feel at home
  • Being open in introducing yourself – name and simple background
  • Being respectful – treating a counselee as a respected human being
  • Wanting to know the counselee’s name and background
  • Accepting the counselee as he or she is
  • Being appropriately dressed
  • Being honest – showing a measure of trust and reliability
  • Being able to conduct oneself with a measure of confidence
  • Assuming the counselee with a measure of confidentiality

Interview in counselling is therefore the therapeutic process whereby a counsellor gathers information from a client who is overwhelmed by a problem and usually over a short period of time.

Phases/stages of interviewing in group counselling

  1. Relationship building-The counsellor should initiate the counselling process by establishing a rapport with the client.
  2. Assessment and diagnosis -This is where the counsellor gathers information from the client in order to understand his or her problem and the reason for undertaking counselling.
  3. Formulation of counselling goals-The setting of goals is vital in determining whether the counselling is working and when should be concluded.
  4. Intervention and problem solving-This is the stage where the counsellor and the client initiates a solution to the clients problem.
  5. Termination and follow up-The counselling process does not end immediately after providing interventions necessary to solve the clients problem but the purpose of follow up is to ensure that the counselling solves the clients problem and identifying other needs for counselling before the counselling is terminated

First counseling session

The first encounter with a counselee is of great importance. The counselee is usually very sensitive to the counselor’s manners, observing to see if he/she is friendly and non-judgmental. The first meeting will set the style and tone for the kind of interaction which will follow. It is essential for the counselor and the counselee to understand that they are entering into a professional relationship which is different from a social one, although personal issues will be discussed and feelings may be aroused in both of them.

Since one of the major goals of counseling is to help the individual understand her/himself better through self exploration, the atmosphere created must be one in which the counselee feels free to talk about the most sensitive issues, even some of which she/he may not be initially aware of.

Counseling room

Counseling is done preferably in a room and in a quiet place where the counselor and the counselee can talk in confidence. A counseling room needs to have few materials such as pictures and any other that may distract the attention of the counselee. The counselor sits in a position favorable to help observe the counselee’s body language.

Counselor’s sitting position – SOLER or ROLES

Counselee’s comfort and welcome

A person coming for counseling is likely to be anxious and to be wondering what to expect from the counselor. He/she may be thinking of a situation like that of a doctor and a patient where the doctor does mot of the questioning and makes the decisions. It is important to differentiate the two settings. The counselor should rise when the counselee comes into the room. He/she should introduce him/herself, ask for the counselee’s name and offer him/her a chair. It is important to the counselee to know how much time you will have together and that confidentiality will be maintained.

There is considerable advantage in sitting on a similar chair without table between as this de-emphasizes differences in status. A table or desk may create a viewing of authority and act as a barrier to successful counseling.

Invite the counselee to talk by asking him/her questions like “Would you like to share with me your areas of concern”? or “What can I do for you?” it is not appropriate to say to the counselee “tell me what your problem is.”

During the interview the counselor assumes the attitude of an interested, sympathetic and friendly listener. He does not judge or evaluate the counselee’s statements. He makes him aware of being unconditionally accepted. The counselor does not put any anxiety or stress on the counselee.


TYPES OF INTERVIEWS                      

  1. Structured interviews -This type of interview follows an order whereby the counsellor can do more of talking or the counselee can be the one who does more of talking. It involves both directive or non-directive counselling
  2. Unstructured interviews – does not follow any procedure both the counselee and the counsellor can be in control

Counseling skills

The oxford dictionary defines a skill as the ability to do something well and expertly. In counseling use of skills is important to enable achievement of the goals.

In counseling there are nineteen skills commonly used. In this section we shall define the skills and explain how they are applied in the counseling process.


  1. Attending Skill

This skill involves being physically and emotionally present. It is having uncluttered and focused thoughts. It involves paying careful attention to client’s words and actions. (Carkhuff R, 2000).

Attending is accomplished by the counselor’s position explained by SOLER or ROLES.

S – Sitting position                                       R – Relax

O – Open posture                                        O – Open posture

L – lean forward appropriately                 L – Lean forward

E – Eye contact without staring                 E – Eye contact

R – Relax                                                        S – Sitting position (sit squarely)

Attendance helps the client to be more at ease. It is comforting to the client when the counselor pays attention to them.


  1. Structuring skill

As explained earlier structuring is making clear to the counselee what may take place in the counseling session.

The counselor and counselee agree regarding the fees, length and number of sessions, confidentiality and limits to it, the place, time and venue among others.

Structuring occurs at the beginning and also throughout the counseling process and leads to positive outcomes as well as minimizing chances of negative outcomes.


  1. Unconditional positive Regard (UPR)

This is accepting and caring of the counselee irrespective of how offensive their behavior might be. It is an accepting attitude that involves respecting counselee as separate human beings with dignity, worth and rights to their own thoughts and feelings. It is also suspending judgment on the counselee’s goodness or badness and accepting the counselee without laying down any conditions.

Consider an example of a form two student who comes to you as the counselor because he was caught sneaking out of school and in a drunken state. What is your first reaction? UPR is about is about accepting and not judging this counselee (no scolding or telling him that he is useless or that he is letting his parents down etc.)

The counselor will show unconditional positive regard to this counselee by being there, for him, showing genuine interest and taking his point of view seriously even when it needs to be challenged.

UPR enhances the counselor-counselee relationship as the counselee feels understood, trusted and cared for. This clears the way for openness in disclosure of issues and feelings.

It also assists the counselor in the pursuit of the counselee’s agenda.


  1. Active Listening

In active listening the counselor listens and understands the messages being sent by the counselee through what they say and what they do i.e.  their words and their body language. It is listening with the third ear (Reik 1948).

The counselor listens to understand what the counselee is saying and communicates to him that he has understood by summarizing and paraphrasing.

Active listening involves the counselor shutting out any other thoughts (such as thinking about what you will do after the sessions or what happened in the morning or what you forgot to tell your spouse and so on) and concentrating on the counselee fully.

Active listening establishes trust. This enhances the choice of the counselee to tell their stories and share their inner world with the counselor. The counselee feels safe and understood.


  1. Silence

The silence skill goes hand in hand with that of active listening. The counselee should be given time to talk and the counselor should be silent to allow this.

Use of pauses and silences enhances the capacity of the counselor to be a rewarding listener. This makes the counselee to feel more understood and appreciated. The counselor pauses each time the counselee stops speaking before responding to see if he whishes to continue.


  1. Minimal Prompts

These are small verbal and non-verbal rewards-brief expressions of interest by the counselor designed to encourage the counselee to continue talking (Richard Nelson Jones 2004).

Non-verbal prompts include bodily movements, gestures, nods, eye movement, smiles and so on while verbal prompts may be encouraging sounds such as ‘aha’ , ‘mmh’, ‘sure’, ‘yes’, I see and so on.

Minimal prompts are tactics for helping counselees talk more freely and concretely about any issue as they assure the counselees that the counselor is with them and understands them.


  1. Empathy

Empathy is understanding the thoughts, feelings, behavior and personal meanings from the counselee’s internal frame of reference.  It is being in tune with their perspective, seeing the world through their eyes. It is responding as if within counselee’s view points (Rogers 1957)

The counselor communicates to the counselee his sensing of her world through reflections. That is mirroring the counselee’s attitudes and feelings. Empathy shows and confirms to the counselee that he has understood and creates a safe emotional climate for him to tell his stories


  1. Questioning

This is the ability of the Counselor to use probes to help counselees name, take notice of, explore, clarify or further define any issue (Egan G 2002).

Probes may be in the form of statements, direct questions, words or phrases that are in effect questions of requests.

In questioning always use open ended questions as these assist the counselee to explore and encourage them to answer in whichever way they want and thus assisting them to understand their internal viewpoints. Open end questions use the words what, when and how. Compare the following examples:-

Why questions should not be used as these judgmental and put the counselee on the defensive.

  1. Paraphrasing

This is restating the counselee’s basic message in similar but usually fewer words (Stewart 1973). It is a skill that shows understanding, during active listening. Paraphrasing makes the counselee feel understood and gives him a clearer perception of what he said. This gives him  a sense of direction and encourages him to go on. Paraphrasing is also a tool that the counselor uses to test his understanding of what the  counselee has said. If he is in agreement he answers in the affirmative and if he  is not in agreement he amends by stating the correct thing.

  1. Reflection of Feelings

This is expressing in fresh words the emotions and feelings stated on strongly implied by the counselee. It involves feeling with the counselee’s flow of emotions and experience and communicating this back to him.

Reflection of feelings assists the counselee to focus on feeling rather than on content. It also assists him to bring vaguely expressed feelings into clearer awareness.

Counselee: I would not believe it when my sister said that I had burnt the food on purpose. I thought that she understands me better than that and that she would be on my side.

Counselor: You felt hurt because your sister betrayed your trust.

Counselee: Yes……..(Silence and client cries).


  1. Observation

This is the ability of the counselor to read the no-verbal messages from counselees without distorting or over interpreting them.

The counselor should verify his interpretation by asking the counselee, or trough continues observation.

Observation of counselee’s body language adds to the meaning taken form the words of the counselee. It may emphasize an support the verbal expressions or modify them.

Example –      Counselee: I notice that your fist is clenched even as you are talking about your son’s behavior

Counselee: Yes because he annoys me and I fee like beating him up!


  1. Summarizing skill

This is the process of tying together into one statement all that has been talked about during part or all the session or process.

It draws together the main threads of what has been discussed and clarifies what has been accomplished and what still needs to be done.


  1. Confrontation / assertive skills

It is an invitation to the counselee to examine thoughts or behaviour that seems to be self defeating, harmful to others to both, and to change that behaviour (Egan 1994).

It is used when the counselor experiences discrepancies in the messages verbalized by the counselee, or between the past and present statements


Counselor: During the last session you had indicated that you loved one spouse and you would not like anything bad to happen to him. But it is like now you are saying that you do not care where your decision hurts him or not. I wonder what this means to you?


  1. Concreteness

This is the counselor’s ability to get counselees to be specific in what they are saying or about their present feelings. It facilitates accurate and clear communication.


Counselor: What exactly annoyed you in the speech?


Counselor: I wonder what it is that you would want to see happen.


  1. Genuineness

This is the counselor’s ability to be freely and deeply himself and to relate to the counselee in a sincere and undefensive manner. It is being authentic with counselees. Genuineness facilitates the development of a trusting relationship between the counselee and counselor and sets an example to the counselee to be honest and genuine in his sharing.


  1. Focusing

It is not possible counselees to deal with all their concerns at once. There is therefore the need for them to prioritize and focus on once concern at a time.

Focusing is where the counselor directs and guides the conversational flow into the areas he wants (Ivey 1994). It serves to pinpoint the talk on something or an aspect that the  counselor thinks would be useful or productive to explore.

The counselor may do this by asking the counselee to choose an aspect on which to focus. He may ask the counselee questions like:

“Which issues is more important?”

“You have mentioned ……………and ……………..perhaps it might be helpful to focus on one specific issue. Where would you like to start?”

“Which issue is causing most distress?”

“So we has identified that ……and it seems as though the most pressing issue is……………… would it be helpful to look at that first?”

“Which issues if tackled would lead to the greatest positive outcome?”

“Which issues have immediate concern and which might be left out?”


The counselor may also help the client to focus by picking  out a word of phrase from the clients’ talk and repeating it with a question mark. Focusing reduces confusion and vagueness.


  1. Self disclosure

In self disclosure the counselor shares with the counselee some experiences in their own life in order to challenge and promote new awareness. It relates to the way in which the counselor lets himself known to the counselee. These disclosures must be done appropriately, timely and must be focused.

Self-disclosure helps counselees to feel that the counselor understands what they go through. This enhances a trusting relationship. It also provides testimonies that people can change and beat their non-desired behavior for example in substance abuse.


  1. Immediacy

This is focusing on what the counselee is thinking and feeling “now” an on what is happening in the counseling relationship between you as the counselor and them. Immediacy is an important tool for monitoring and managing the counseling relationship. It is used when there is tension, lack of direction, when there are boundary issues or when trust is an issue.

Counselor: It looks like we are on our third session but we do not seem to be making any progress in as far as your issue is concerned. I wonder what this means to you?


Counselor: I notice that when I mentioned what you thought about the relationship with your boss you changed the subject. I wonder what caused this.


  1. Advanced Level Empathy

This is he counselor’s ability to discern and understand the deeper meaning sin what counselees are exploring.

Advanced level Empathy is being able to perceive accurately the implied feelings of the counselee (such as disappointments, helplessness, hopelessness, boredom etc) and to communicate this understanding to him.


Counselee:     My husband had promised to take me to dinner. I prepared and waited for him but he did not come until after midnight. He did not even mention about the dinner and neither did he explain why he came late. I felt very bad.

Counselor:     It is like you felt disappointed whey your husband did not fulfill his promise to take you to dinner. It also a\hurt you when he did not offer any explanation. It really annoyed you!

Advanced level empathy fosters counselee self exploration and enables him to come to deeper level of self understanding.


Test your understanding

The purpose of summary in counseling includes:-

  1. To outline relevant facts, thoughts, feelings and meanings
  2. To promote further exploration of a particular theme
  3. To help both counselor and client find direction
  4. All of the above
  5. None of the above
  1. Define the skills listed below. Give the purpose of the ach skill and explain how you will demonstrate each.
  1. Immediacy
  2. Confrontation
  3. Summary
  4. Paraphrasing
  5. Active listening
  6. Advance level empathy
  7. SOLER
  8. observation
  1. Silence and minimal prompts are skills used to encourage the counselee to talk. What is the meaning of silence minimal prompts in a counseling relationship? Discuss
  2. Counselor self disclosure occurs in order to challenge and to promote new awareness by the counselor strength with the counselee some experience in their own elaborate.
  3. The first encounter with a counselee is of great importance. Discuss how you would prepare for the encounter and how you will ensure that counselee’s co comfort.
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