List of skills required in effective counselling sessions

List of skills required in effective counselling sessions


After COVID-19, people are opening up about mental health. It also removed the stigma of mental health concern for greater health. Many people are opening up for the psychology profession, as it has appeared as a bright future these days. But learning skills-based psychology practice is not a one-day task. It needs constant effort and practice. It also requires the right information and the use of it in the right direction (when to use which skill for a better outcome).

1) Empathy:

Counseling is effective only when it is built on an empathic relationship. Empathy refers to understanding the client’s world as it is and committing the same to him. This gives the client the feeling that they are being understood, and they can feel that the bond between the client and counselor is getting stronger. Empathy can be understood in two simple steps.

  • a) Empathy is a perception, and it enables the counselor to see the client world (putting feet in the shoes of the client).
  • b) The counselor should come back to his or her character and communicate the feeling that they understood (coming back to their own shoes and respectfully sharing how they feel about it).

Also Read: Helplines for Mental Health Counselling

2) Unconditional positive regards:

Unconditional positive regards means the counselor is accepting the client without any judgement and keeping aside their opinions and biases while the client shares their experience and thoughts. Unconditional positive regard enables the counselor to isolate behavior from the person who displays it. The two main important objects of unconditional positive regard are:

  • a) By showing unconditional positive regard, the counselor provides the best possible condition for the client’s personal growth.
  • b) It allows the client to accept and take responsibility for their own actions and develop self-realization.

3) Active listening:

Active listing is about gaining information and the perception of the client without getting prepared to argue with them or say anything in return. Allow the client to finish what they want to say, and questions can be asked by the counselor if they needs to find any further information or wants to make sure this is what they understood and what the client wanted to communicate. Active listening allows the counselor to have a clear idea of what the client wants to say by overcoming their assumptions. Active listening can be divided into five simple steps:

  • Pay attention to what the client is saying.
  • Show them that you are listing by showing minimal encouragers (head nodding, leaning forward, using facial expressions, using words like ok, please continue, or saying yes).
  • Providing feedback on what the counselor understood.
  • Defer judgment: Do not interrupt the client when they are sharing their feelings.
  • Respond appropriately: Whatever counsel has understood, they can communicate that with full respect to the client.

Also Read: Let’s Understand the Counselling Process

4) Rapport building:

The first objective of counseling sessions is to build rapport and continue to nurture it in upcoming sessions of the counseling process. The objective of rapport-building is to develop therapeutic alliances. Which allows the clients to experience an environment of trust and understanding during the session. It helps the client explore their hidden fears or insecurities and talk openly about them. It works as support for the client to realize their treatment objectives and work for them.

Rapport-building can start by asking simple questions like:
  • How are you?
  • How’s your day?
  • What do you like to do when you are free?
  • What do you enjoy the most?
  • What is your strength?

It allows the client to feel that the client is into them. They really want to know them and help them.

5) Confidentiality:

During the counseling session, the client’s biggest fear is that their information will not be kept private, and this fear stops them from sharing their feelings. So at the beginning of the session or whenever it is needed, the counselor explains and follows the rules of confidentiality. Which means client information and counseling discussions will be private. It will be between the client and counseling and will not go out of the counselor session. Not even this client is seeing the counseling. Confidentiality can be broken when it can potentially cause harm to the client, the counselor, or anyone else. To break confidentiality, the counselor has to calculate the pros and cons and then decide when to do it.

6) Silence:

Silence is used in counseling sessions when it carries more value than words. Silence is meaningful during counseling sessions and can be used for multiple purposes.

  • a) It can create positive pressure for the client to continue what they are saying.
  • b) It allows the counselor to take some time and understand what the client wants to say.
  • c) It works as a single act of patience and empathetic understanding.

Also Read: Do I Need Counselling for Mental Health?

7) Questioning skills:

A right question asked during counseling sessions can help the client discover hidden areas of their problems and life. It also allows the counselor to pin point any issue and understand it in adequate detail, as sometimes information seems ambiguous to the counselor, and by questioning it, they assess the exact information. The core object of questing skills is to gather information, explore client perspectives, and facilitate self-reflection.

8) Reflection of feelings:

Reflection of feelings is used when a counselor helps the client understand their emotions, thoughts, or feelings in depth by mirroring the client’s words or feelings. Reflection of feelings helps the counselor understand the client better and work with him/her to find solutions for issues they are facing. When clients feel they are being understood, they become more at ease and discuss deeper emotions and feelings. Which leads to the client’s growth in the counseling sessions.

Also Read: The Importance of Career Counselling for a Better Future

9) Summarizing:

Summarizing is used to avoid any misinterpretation during counseling sessions. It also allows the client to get the idea that they are understood correctly. In summarizing, the counselor summarizes the entire discussion at the end of the counseling session, when one topic is about to end or when the counselor wants to make sure that they understands the client correctly. If any part of the summarization is inaccurate, the client can correct the counselor. Through this process, the counselor can get an accurate picture of the client’s perspective.

10) Communication skills:

Good communication skills are very important for the counseling process. Communication skills are about communicating feelings to each other’s. While the client shares his or her feelings, through communication skills, the counselor can express that they understand them. It also allows the counselor to ask the right question in an appropriate manner, even if the question seems very personal. The client can sometimes feel insecure or vulnerable during the session, and the counselor can make him or her comfortable by expressing respect and sharing their opinions.

Also Read: Let’s know about the Difference between Counselling and Psychotherapy

11) Genuineness:

The most important part of a counseling session is the genuineness of the counselor. When a counselor is doing counseling genuinely, it becomes easier for clients to contribute to therapeutic alliances and feel a trusting environment. Genuineness works as a foundation for the counseling process. Genuineness for counselors is to show their real picture to the client of who they are instead of sharing any fake picture or perfect image of themselves. When the client feels that the counselor is also a human, not just an idea person, they find it easier to open up and talk about their flaws and mistakes.

The counselor will gradually learn all these skills by practicing them patiently. Each counselor subjectively experiences counseling differently and builds it upon practical skills and application.


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