Clarifying and Using Questions
Clarifying means using questions to make sure you understand what is being said so you are not confused and the client feels full understood to do this effectively you need to understand the type of questions to ask.
Have you ever been in a situation where you have been asked one question after another?.
It can feel like you are being interrogated, rather than listened to!
Someone who is skilled in the ‘art of listening’ will use open questions, using them sparingly, to help you clarify what the client has said so that you can reflect and paraphrase more accuracy.
These generally begin with' How…?' 'What…?' 'Who…?'
They require an answer other than 'yes' or 'no'.
They may be used to gain information (what happened as a result?), explore thoughts, feelings, attitudes and opinions (what were you hoping to achieve?) or to consider hypothetical situations (how might you deal with. ..?).
'Why?' questions are useful open questions but beware of making them sound too judgmental (e.g. 'Why did you do that?).
These questions invite a 'Yes' or 'No' answer and may be unhelpful in terms of the replies given.
Many people believe they are asking 'open questions' when in fact they are asking complicated 'closed questions'.
Repeated use of 'closed questions' may result in the client saying less and less and the Counsellor feeling pressurised to ask more and more questions to keep the relationship going.
Makes sure that you only use questions to clarify your understanding, do not be intrusive, and remember that when a client is answering a question they are not accessing the part of the brain which deals with emotions.
Is the question ‘what date is your birthday’ an open or closed question ?