Basic Counselling Skills

Basic Counselling Skills Explained

When working with clients, counsellors draw on a number of skills, called counselling skills, which – when used with thought and care – can help move the counselling process forward.
In this section, we will look at the most effective skills to use in counselling.

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These are:

  1. Attending
  2. Use of Silence
  3. Reflecting and Paraphrasing
  4. Clarifying and the Use of Questions
  5. Focusing
  6. Building Rapport
  7. Summarising

Click here to download an explanation of the Key Skills in Counselling

When using counselling skills:

  • Be genuine; if you don’t understand, it’s OK to check and ask for further information.
  • Try to be brief when reflecting back; the speaker should do most of the talking.
  • Use your own words to reflect back, to avoid sounding like a parrot!
  • Avoid using a shocked or disbelieving tone of voice; this may indicate that the speaker is unacceptable or odd.

Who Uses Counselling Skills?

Click the picture to download the Key Counselling Skills Explained handout

This is quite an interesting topic, counselling skills are really ‘the art of listening’ and are practised by any number of people in any number of work roles. We naturally think of some professions where counselling skills would be useful such as , Nursing , Social work , the medical profession, Police and Ambulance service to name a few. However the ‘art of listening’ can be practised by almost anybody and is, here are a few ideas. On a recent visit to my hairdresser a woman customer sat next to me was telling her stylist the difficulties she was having in her relationship.

The stylist listened patiently, did not judge or offer advice and seemed to understand her difficulty and paid attention.  Clearly the hair stylist had mastered ‘the art of listening’.

On a train journey the Edinburgh, I sat and listened to two strangers sat opposite having a conversation. The listener showed an non-judgmental attitude, was patient and only asked questions to clarify their understanding. Consequently the second passenger spoke about a lot of personal issues to a stranger on a train because the first passenger knew ‘the art of listening’.

We live in a society where we are consistently ‘talked at’, let me ask you this question who do you prefer to be with, someone who talks to you or someone that listens to you? Can you think of any other work roles that require counselling skills?