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Basic Counseling Skills

MCFC/MHC/CC Residency 1

Learning Objectives

From this presentation, you will be given information to:


Apply basic of counseling skills Articulate why counseling skills are important Explain the importance of rapport building Define and discuss SOLER skills Discuss appropriate use of verbal and nonverbal communication skills.

May 2011 Revised

Setting the Stage


Although your ultimate approach to helping will be influenced by what the client needs, what the client will respond to best, and what stage you are in, ultimately you need to create an environment that promotes feelings of safety, respect, and understanding. The bulk of this relationship building occurs in the beginning stage of counseling and there are skills that are more effective for use during this time.
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The PERSON of the counselor


Voice have a soothing, comforting tone Eye contact - be natural with eye contact, be as animated as possible with your facial expression (but be careful showing shock..) Language - keep in mind education level, experiences of those with whom you are working but be genuine in your own vocabulary Demonstration of confidence in process and directives EMPATHY
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The Counseling Setting


Also consider your office:
Arrangement of furniture - no big objects b/w you and client, Credentials hang degree, licenses, certifications, registrations on wall Your comfort level

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Understanding the CONTEXT of the client

Remember first to understand the client in his or her context Consider:


The person of the client How the client acts in session will elicit responses form you (if client is withdrawn, you may use skills that help bring him/her out; if client gregarious, you may use skills to cut-off) Sensitivity to diversity
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The Client-Counselor Relationship


How the relationship itself assists you as a counselor: Diagnostic aid
How the client acts in session is a clue to how he/she acts outside of sessionpatterns of behavior

Interpersonal engagement
This allows you to have influence over the client be careful of this as you carry power in your role
social modeling, directives and challenges your reactions to their material how you deal with immediacy issues, etc..

Unfinished business
Transference and countertransference reactions can be grist for the mill You can use the relationship to help heal from past (think Rogers and Gloria)
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The Client-Counselor Relationship


Personal support system
Research suggests the number one factor in clients improvement is support system (its best if this is both outside and inside the therapy) Counselors should support clients, be a cheerleader for them Support communicates
someone is here for you you can count on someone I might not approve of what you are doing, but I approve of you there is a person in your life who is reliable and dependable you will not be taken advantage of my job is to help you get what you want

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The Client-Counselor Relationship

Authentic engagement
You will like some clients and dislike others, but you must be genuine and can use this as immediacy If you have have strong reactions to liking or disliking a client it is imperative that you discuss this in supervision/ consultation.

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Basic Attending Skills

Purpose:
To help client tell story Draw out appropriate background and contextual information Communicate understanding Facilitate deeper level of exploration make connections Demonstrate empathy Provide emotional support to the client
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Skill: Minimal Encourages

Prompts
Verbal (uh huh, go on, yes, hmmm,) Nonverbal (bodily mvmts, gestures, nods)

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Skill: Probes
Probes should be used to help keep clients engaged in dialogue and provide client with enough structure to achieve concreteness and clarity while providing an opportunity to get necessary details of story. Probes can also help clients get a balanced view of problem situations and opportunities. Probes help clients get deeper into issues, move forward, and help in exploration of issues. Probes can also challenge clients.

May 2011 Revised

Skill: Probes
Statements Tell me. I wonder. Its still not clear to me Im not sure I understand.. Phrases that are actually questions or requests Share with me what you are thinking Restating key words with question tone of voice
Example Cl: I am tired of it all. Co: Tired?
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Skill: Questions
When to ask questions:
Initially. Where would you like to begin today? When you need specific information For clarification (but you could always do a paraphrase) To get things back on track. Earlier you said what is. To bring it in the here and now When you want to make a point or a connection. What were you thinking just now when you heard me say that? When you want to define goals. When you want to motivate the client into action.

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Skill: Questions
Problems with Questions
Bombarding client Too many questions in a row (particular text reads: then you have just asked 2 stupid questions!!)

Using questions effectively


If you can make it a statement its better!
Tell me. Explain that I wonder. Talk more about that.

Good idea to mix probes, statements, reflections


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Skill: Questions
Good and Bad questions Avoid why. Why? It sounds judgmental (think of when you got into trouble as a kid) B/c clients dont know why. (Think of when you had to give a reason why you got into trouble) Why questions can be restated, sound less accusatory and elicit the same information. Instead of why did you do that? you may consider Can you tell me how you made that decision? How did that work for you?

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Skill: Questions

Good and Bad Questions:


Open and Closed Open questions: help elaborate and enrich the client story help bring out the concrete specifics of the clients world what would an example be? Closed gives basically a yes/no response Fluff If you are trying to fill space, its probably not a useful question If you can reflect or use another skill, its always better
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Skill: Clarifying and Summarizing


This is not restating or parroting, but summarizing. This shows the client you are paying attention. What is important? Listen to what your heard Ask yourself what is underlying message? Minisummarization: A sentence stem: I hear you say or In your point of view or Looks like Use key words of clients Stay true to clients ideas.. they will correct if you are wrong (and thats okay!)
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Skill: Clarifying and Summarizing


Summarize themes of long dialogue Summarize at beginning of new session Summarize at end of session Clarify/Summarize when situation seems to not be going anywhere or client is rambling Clarify/Summarize when client gets stuck or when clients needs new perspective

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Skill: Nonverbals

Both client and counselor nonverbals can communicate volumes.


Client nonverbals can give context to the information the client is sharing, can support or discredit the validity of what the client is expressing, and can serve to provide additional understanding to words the client is using. Counselor nonverbals also give clients clues about counselor confidence, degree to which counselor is listening to them, relationship trustworthiness.

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Skill: Nonverbals

Nonverbal information can be gained through observation of:


Facial expressions Eye Contact (*consider cultural differences) Appearance (clothing, grooming) Gestures/Body movements (i.e., fidgety) Spatial behavior (how did client position him/herself) Posture
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Skill: Non-Verbal Attending

What information can be gathered from nonverbals?


Assessment of general mood Clues to inner states Mental status Verbal and nonverbal congruency Signals of distress Unconscious reactions

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Skill: Nonverbals

List/ discuss nonverbal behaviors associated with these feelings:


Anger

Fear
Happiness Sadness
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Skill: Counselor Nonverbals

So, what nonverbal behaviors indicate interest and caring?


SOLER (sit squarely, open posture, lean in, eye contact, and relax) Also, your facial expression will show appropriate response Minimal encouragers: head nods, uh huhs

May 2011 Revised

Activity

Large Group Activity:


Play Telephone Game: One person taps the next person on the shoulder and tells a 1-2 sentence story. That person will then tap the next person on the shoulder and share the same story. The story can only be told once per person. The last person to hear the story tells it to the group.

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Activity

Did the ending message remain the same as the beginning message? WHY?
- No context - No non-verbal - No confirmation

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Activity

Now, play the game with these instructions:


One person chooses a feeling, everyone closes eyes and starter taps person to right who then opens eyes and starter conveys emotion through facial expression goes round the room last person verbally identifies feeling

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Activity - HOMEWORK

Watch one television interview and reflect on it to identify nonverbals you can pick up on for both interviewer and interviewee. For our purposes watch a television show (Dr. Phil, CSI, Law & Order, or any show that includes interviews and watch for the facilitators of communications.)

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References
Egan, G. (2010). The skilled helper: A problem management and opportunity development approach to helping (9th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole (Cengage Learning). ISBN: 9780-495-60189-0 or 0-495-60189-6 hard. Egan, G. (2010). Exercises in helping skills: A manual to accompany the skilled helper (9th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole (Cengage Learning). ISBN: 978-0-495-80632-5 or 0-495-80632-3 soft.

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