Counselling is effective when the client is able to TRUST the counsellor and therefore feels free to disclose their story without fear of being judged and undermined.

As a result of self disclosure, the client (with the help of the counselor) gains the bigger picture of their problem and devices practical steps to solve their own problem.

Effective counselling does not necessarily solve the client’s problem (no guarantee that the clients’ problem will be solved)

Instead, it brings the client to the path towards findings their own solution.

Effective counselling does not necessarily solve the client’s problem (no guarantee that the clients’ problem will be solved) but:

  1. Removes (reduces) symptoms
  2. Enhances the competence of the client
  3. Increases tolerance for emotional experience
  4.  Provides dramatic relief, restoration of some immediate self-efficacy and extinction of problematic arousal
  5. Communication is the process of sending and receiving messages, either verbally or non verbally between people.
  6. It is a continuous process, it affects the relationships that exists between people who are communicating with each other.
  7. Developing effective communication skills is vital in building relationships.


How do you know that you are communicating effectively with the other person?

Are you always satisfied with all communications you make with other people? Why?

Effective communication takes place when there is genuine, active exchange of information between the sender (client) and the receiver (counsellor).

The counsellor and the client should be in psychological contact (they both feel fully engaged in the exchange of information.

When one side feels undermined or passive, communication becomes ineffective and therefore can not result into effective counselling.


Effective communication leads to effective counselling because:

1.Client feels valued and accepted in counselling process (this is the results of effective communication skills)

The client needs to feel important.

2.Client’s self esteem is enhanced. As a result of feeling valued and important, their confidence on the counsellor increases (this may not be immediate for some reasons)

3. The client trusts the counsellor and becomes motivated to participate in counselling process. Trust is the key for effective counselling (self disclosure is impossible without trust).

4. The client will be willing to openly discuss personal issues with the counsellor without fear of judgement.

 Self disclosure is important for the problem to be explored and understood.

5. Client’s ability to gain bigger picture of the problem is enhanced/promoted. The client can not reflect on their own problem if they can not see gain the wider view of the their problem

6.  Clients are more likely to make informed decisions on their own and therefore achieve their goals in the counselling process (personal change etc).

 Counselling draws heavily from positive relationship exists between the client and the counsellor.

In essence the counselor’s interactions with the client are a powerful tool in the helping relationship.

Ineffective communication is when:

      Being preoccupied with what you are going to say (not paying attention to what the other person is saying)

      Selective listening (hearing what you want to hear)

      Interrupting and finishing the other person’s statements, changing it for their own purposes

      Judging or imposing your values on another person and giving solutions to client’s problem (when you judge you don’t fully listen but assess them)

      Avoiding other other’s concerns (not taking individual’s feeling and concerns and refraining fears, anxieties and worries of the individual)

Effect of Ineffective communication:

      Results in client’s dissatisfaction, loneliness

      Diminishes an individual’s self esteem and increase feelings of hopelessness

      Makes an individual’s ability to cope with difficult issues harder



      Giving full attention to another person by being physically, emotionally and mentally present in the conversation with the client.

      Shows that we are interested in the other person and enables us to capture and understand the verbal and nonverbal information communicated by the client

    Studies: about 80 percent of communication takes place non-verbally

Involves attending the client - orienting oneself physically to the client to indicate one is aware of the client, and, in fact, that the client has the counsellor’s full, undivided attention.

 It shows that the counsellor cares an values the client.

Following skills include body posture/leaning forward, eye contact, nodding, minimum encouragers (verbalizations) and not moving around, being distracted

Content - what is specifically said. Listen carefully for, not only what a person says, but also the words, expressions and patterns the person is using, which may give you a deeper insight.

Process - all nonverbal phenomena, including how content is conveyed, themes, body language, interactions, etc. Smiling


Selective focusing on the cognitive part of the message – with the client’s key words and ideas being communicated back to the patient in a rephrased, and shortened form.


Listen and recall. The entire client message to ensure you recalled it in its entirety and do not omit any significant parts.

      Identify the content part of the message by deciding what event, situation, idea, or person the client is talking about.

      Rephrase, in as concise a manner as possible, the key words and ideas the client has used to communicate their concerns in a fresh or different perspective.

           Four steps in effective paraphrasing:

          Perception check is usually in the form of a brief question which allows the client to agree or disagree with the accuracy of your paraphrasing.


      “If I understand you correctly you said….”

       “So you are saying that….”

      “So you think that…”

      “Sounds like you’re saying…”


Keeping communications specific -- focused on facts and feelings of relevant concerns, while avoiding tangents, generalizations, abstract discussions, or talking about counselor rather then the client

 Includes the following functions:

      Assists the client to identify and work on a specific problem from the various ones presented

      Reminds the client of the task and redescribing intent and structure of the counselling session.

      Uses questions and suggestions to help the client clarify facts, terms, feelings, and goals.

      Uses a here-and-now focus to emphasize process and content occurring in current session, which may of help to clarify the problem being worked on or improving the problem-solving process.


      “I know that all these matters concern you greatly but is there one of these in particular that can do something about?”

      “Of what you’ve mentioned, what concerns you the most?”


      Questioning assists the client in clarifying or exploring thoughts or feelings to enhance the counsellor understand the story of the client.

      The goal is to facilitate exploration – not needed if the client is already doing this.

Rules for effective questioning:

      Ask for specific information (have counselling purpose for every question you ask).

      Use simple and clear language  understood by the client

      Ask one question at a time (avoid redundant questions)

      Allow the client to reflect on the question

      Avoid asking too many questions, or assuming an interrogatory role

      Avoid using why question unless you confront

      Avoids repetitive patterns of question/answer/question/answer, etc.

      Begin with open ended questions, then proceed to close ended question, leading questions etc

Types of questions:

  1. Open ended questions: invites the client to narrate the story so that the counselor understands the situation and experience

       Example, “Please, tell me about your problem…”

2. Probing questions: tries to expand the client’s story in order to identify the core problem

       Example, “How did you feel after what happened…?”

3. Close ended questions: used to obtain specific facts which will help the counselor gain the specific understanding of the problem

     Example, “Did you know his name?…”

  1. Leading questions: confirms your understanding of the client’s experience

Example, “Did you feel angry after he said that…?”


Challenging the values and beliefs of the client regarding their problem

Important when the client contradicts, has ambiguous feelings or their belief reinforces the emotional disturbance

It can to make a client defensive or feel negatively judged and put down.

A good confrontation is gentle, supportive and help the client explore their own conflict more deeply, with the goal being the formulation of a new idea or plan that will benefit the client.

Example, “Do you think rejecting your child will help solve the problem?”


A summary is an overview, in client’s words, of the most important information from counselling session (shorter version of what has been discussed)

Sometimes as the counselling proceeds, there is so much information that the client get lost in the details. A summary enables them to see the greater picture

Is done after every main stage of counselling session, or in the end of the counselling. Helps the client obtain the holistic picture of what has been discussed during the process


      Interviewing is a process of collecting information from an individual with such information (informant) by the use of series of questions.

      Interview is sometimes held for purpose other than the informant themselves.

      For example, in qualitative research the interview results into data that may be used to understand the general phenomenon without helping the informant.

      In journalism, the informant provides information that are useful for the public and sometimes at the stake of the informant.

      Counselling interview, on contrary, serves a different purpose.

      Questioning is used as part of the process of helping the client cope or overcome the problem they are facing.

      Information obtained from counselling interview is used to help the interviewee themselves and not for the public or someone else.


Counselling Room

      Counselling takes place in a quiet, confidential, ventilated, well lighted and comfortable room. But at emergency it can be conducted elsewhere (but basic conditions are necessary)

      Conditions in the counselling room should enhance the interview and ease the communication between the counselor and the client.

Equipment and Furniture

The counselling room needs:

      Chairs for both client and counsellor

      Safe cabinet for keeping clients’ files, admission forms, records and related information

      Coffee table for fast drinks

      Telephone for quick communication, flowers or any work of art to make the place attractive and appealing

Equipment and Furniture

Depending on the financial strength of the counsellor, there may be a need to have the waiting room fitted with:

       Chairs for clients while the session is in progress

      Television set to keep the waiting easy as they client may watch educative programs

Sitting Arrangement

       No physical barrier such as table, separates the counsellor from the client.

      Such barriers may give an impression that the counsellor is the authority and that may block the friendly atmosphere necessary between the counselor and the client.

      The counsellor should sit closer to the door which is left ajar or partially open for safety just in case of anything and yet reduce the suspicion behind the closed door


Intake Interview

Focusing on the Problem

(Statement and Exploration of Problem)

Identification of Alternatives

(Setting Strategies) 


Intake Interview

First stage where the counsellor gets to know the client and the client gets to know what to expect in the counselling process

1. Building Rapport

      Putting a client at easy to create rapport

      Make introductions and invite social conversation to reduce anxiety

      Indicate that you are interested in the person (address the client by name)

2. Acquiring client’s basic information

      Know client’s basic information such as family and education background, size of the family, work employment, health issues, religious beliefs

      Information is useful for making intervention and they serve as reference in counselling without the need to interrupt client’s story

3. Clarifying client’s expectation about counselling

      Explain the nature and goals of counselling and to agree upon the practical arrangements for counselling with the client

      Make informed consent with the client (example, responsibility of the client including telling the truth, fees involved, expected time of the process, contract etc)

4. Assurance of Confidentiality

      Assure the client that whatever is discussed during counselling remains absolutely confidential and will not be revealed to anybody else under any circumstance

      Give exceptions of confidentiality

Focus on Problem

    The counsellor facilitates the client to identify and explore the problem to gain the broader view of the core problem

  1. Clients narrates the story

      Allow the client to tell the story to give you the general picture of the pressing problem

    For example, they should give an account of what happened, where and when and how.

      Note that clients who come into counselling are seldom clear and concise in their communication.

  1. Set goals

      After obtaining a general understanding of the client's problems and expectations, specific goals of counselling need to be set

      Help the client to set practical goals to be achieved during counselling process

     For example, to reduce feeling of anxiety and stress

3. Exploration of the core problem

      Investigate a problem or situation with the client.

      Attempt to find out what feelings are involved, inner resources the client has, support they can get from others etc

4. Clarify the client’s core problem

      In the end of the stage, the core problem, the real problem that usually the client does not see, should be identified.

      Identify the factors that generate and maintain the real problems and factors that can relieve these problems

Setting Strategies

    The client is helped to use the information discussed during the session to identify possible alternatives to redress the identified problem

Identify the alternatives:

      The client, with the help of the counsellor, gives the alternatives having received sufficient information in the process.

      The counselor therefore, helps the client to assess the advantages and disadvantages of all alternatives.

Choose the best alternatives:

      The client chooses the best alternative that fits their resources and their situation

      The counsellor does not choose the best alternative for the client (ethical issue)

Preparing Action plan

      The counsellor and client together chart a plan of action for productive action.

      The client is helped to identify practical strategies to be taken to implement the identified alternative


    The counsellor determines whether the goals of the counselling have been met and prepares the client emotionally for ending the session

Evaluate the Client’s Readiness (Corey, 1996)

     Important questions to ask:

      Is the plan of counselling running its course?

      Has the client grasped understanding of the core problem?

      Are the goals of counselling in the process of being attained?

      Will the client's morale stand up to closure?

Provide Advance Notice for closure

      Necessary so that clients can psychologically orient themselves towards independent functioning.

      Gives the client an opportunity to raise issues that he had hitherto left undiscussed, and to clarify doubts and misconceptions.

Summarize the Session

      Help the client obtain the ‘bird’s eye view’ by drawing to their attention the major issues discussed.

      For example, goals that were agreed upon for counselling, assignments that were given, interpretations and insights that resulted.

Discuss Follow-up Sessions

      Follow-up sessions are used to check if the client is doing well and is progressing as per plan.

      Clients should be made to feel that the counsellor will always be available to them

      When the client is satisfied the counselling is terminated formally.






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