1. Step One - Learning the Basic Skills of Counseling
Learning some basic skills of counseling techniques (link to Basic Counseling Techniques: A
Beginning Therapist's Tool Kit By Wayne Perry) is the first step on our journey. These basic
skills include the patterns of sessions, active listening, body language, tone, open ended and
closed questions, paraphrasing, summarizing, note taking, homework, the 'goodie bag' and other
fun and informative stuff!
You will also have an opportunity to "listen in" on a number of sample sessions to see how all of
these counseling skills work together.
Note: I use the words "counselor" and "listener" interchangeably; also "client" and
The large pics at the bottom will always have a cat. Why? Because Sigmund Freud -
physiologist, medical doctor, psychologist and father of psychoanalysis, and who is generally
recognized as one of the most influential and authoritative thinkers of the twentieth century.
Introduction to Terms
The pattern of sessions has a predictable rhythm with an introduction, information gathering,
discussion and a conclusion.
Active listening happens when you "listen for meaning". The listener says very little but
conveys much interest. The listener only speaks to find out if a statement (or two or twenty) has
been correctly heard and understood.
Body language takes into account our facial expressions, angle of our body, proximity of
ourselves to another, placement of arms and legs, and so much more. Notice how much can be
expressed by raising and lowering your eyebrows!
You need monitor the tone of your voice - in the same way that you monitor your body
language. Remember, the person may not remember what was said, but they will remember how
you made them feel!
An open question is one that is used in order to gathering lots of information-you ask it with the
intent of gathering a long answer.
A closed question is one used to gather specific information –it can be normally answered either
with a single word or a short phrase. Good counseling techniques to know.
Paraphrasing is when you restate what the speaker said. Often different works are used and the
listener may be using this to draw attention to a particular concern or aspect. Sometimes
paraphrasing is used to clarify.
2. Summarizing is focusing on the main points of a presentation or conversation in order to
highlight them. At the same time you are giving the “gist’ you are checking to see if you are
Note taking is the practice of writing down pieces of information, often in a shorthand and
messy manner. The listener needs to be discreet and not disturb the flow of thought, speech or
body language of the speaker.
Homework? Absolutely! When the person identifies a need or concern, she or he must be
willing to work hard at addressing it. This is much like what you are doing right now. You want
to learn counseling techniques, so you are going to study these practice these basic skills!
The Goodie Bag and other fun and informative stuff help make a counseling session an occasion
for joy as well as for additional learning.