Counselling skills can be used every day whether it is in our job as a helper or just listening to a distressed friend. The art of being listened too can be practised by almost anybody and the effectiveness of being actively listened to can have a huge impact on our lives as it can enable us to feel better about ourselves. Counselling skills help us communicate effectively and enable us to relate better to the people we are talking to.
The following are essential to good counselling skills:
- Communicating that we are listening by providing verbal or non-verbal awareness of the other person. For example by affirmative head nodding or appropriate facial expressions showing that we have one’s full and undivided attention.
- Paraphrasing is when you summarise effectively what a person has just said.
- Focusing encourages people to focus on the issues they are talking about rather than wander of topic.
- Reflecting feelings, experiences or content that has been heard or perceived.
- Interpreting by offering a tentative interpretation of the other’s feelings, desires or meanings.
- Summarising by bringing together in some way the feelings and experiences of the person talking.
- Effective question skills are essential so that questions are asked in a supportive way that requests more information or helps the person’s attention to clarify on an experience or a feeling.
- Giving feedback and sharing perceptions of the other’s person’s ideas or feelings.
- Supporting by showing warmth and caring in one’s own individual way.
- Allowing silence which gives people time to think as well as talk.
Counselling skills are important tools for a counsellor as it allows them to work effectively with their clients.
What is counselling?
A professional counsellor is a trained individual who is able to use a different range of counselling approaches with their clients and who are bound by a code of ethics and practices. A counsellor will demonstrate unconditional acceptance, genuineness and empathy and will try to understand things from your perspective. They will believe you and listen to you which enables you to explore your difficulties by focusing on your feelings, experiences or behaviours. This will help you see things from a different view point and enable you to express your feelings. This will then help you to facilitate positive change in your life.
Counsellors are non-judgemental and will not advise you or tell you how you should act. This enables you to be your true self and to set your own agenda.
Trust between a counsellor and client is paramount. Counselling provides confidently and a safe space for you to explore your issues. Counsellors will build a good rapport with you but not to an extent that they would allow themselves to become emotionally involved.
Counsellors need to be empathetic and able to see things from your point of view. Empathy can help you to be felt held, understood and respected. This allows the counsellor to support you with any issues that you bring and help you find your own solutions as they believe you have the answer within you.
A good counsellor will be a member of British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy or UK Council for Psychotherapy and will continuously build upon their own personal and professional development. A counsellor will also attend clinical supervision to ensure their practice remains ethical.