We are hearing and asking these questions more and more every day. Going to counseling or therapy today is a lot more popular than it was ever before, and we are not surprised. Knowing and understanding why you do the things you do, and getting into your own mind can be beneficial in helping you navigate and power through all the stops that life can throw your way. Many of us fail to recognize that mental health is just as important as physical health. Then again, when you turn on the news and hear about all the tragedies that occur because of supposed “mental issues”, you wonder why there is not more emphasis placed on cultivating and maintaining a strong mental balance.
If you are interested in becoming a counselor, or curious for more information on the basic techniques of counseling, we are going to let you in on some of the basics techniques of that counselors use in counseling. Soon enough, you will be armed with the skills and hacks to providing yourself, or others, with the knowledge to live a happy and purposeful life.
The Benefits of Counseling
Before we get into the techniques, let’s take a look at some of the benefits that counseling has to offer. Counseling will help you:
- Learn to feel better about yourself
- Feel more at peace, more comfortable, and more secure in the world and being in public.
- Feel more connected with others, especially with those who are close to you, such as your spouse, immediate family, or children.
- Reduce the daily stresses that you are confronted with.
- With your physical health, as you will feel more relaxed and capable to take on the world.
- Work through your problems with a skilled and compassionate professional.
- Identify the goals that you have in life and what you hope to achieve.
- Identify the people in your life that will be supportive of your goals and aspirations.
- Learn new behaviors and responses that can help you to achieve your goals.
- Establish and implement new ways and techniques for reaching your goals.
- Understand your thoughts, feelings, and responses, and give you ideas on which to improve them, if needed.
- Understand those you love better, and give you the tools to help enrich their lives as well.
- Learn how to be a good listener to others.
- Open up about any fears and doubts that you might have so that you can get the proper tools to combat those fears.
- Put yourself on the path of working towards self-fulfillment and personal joy.
Basic Counseling Techniques
Now, let’s take a look at some basic counseling techniques and why they are used. Whether or not you are a counselor, feel free to put these into use in your own life as need be.
Active Listening: During active listening, the counselor will listen for meaning. As a listener, they will not say much, but they will use body language and eye contact to show that they are interested. The only type of speaking that will occur is if the counselor needs to reiterate a statement to see if they heard and understood their patient correctly.
Body Language: During counseling, a counselor will use their body language, facial expressions, and angle of body to express empathy, concern, or understanding to their patient. Even the placement of arms and legs can relay meaning. It can be helpful for the counselor to mirror their patients body language to demonstrate understanding. Additionally, facial expressions such as raising or lowering eyebrows can demonstrate concern, interest, and understanding. Body language techniques are meant for the counselor to show their patient how their statements make them feel without using verbal acknowledgement.
Open Ended Questions: By asking an open ended question, the counselor is hoping to receive a lot of detailed information for their client, as open ended questions cannot be answered with one word. The counselor will then gain more clarification and dive into some generalizations and specifics. These types of questions are useful in the beginning of therapy for the counselor to gain as much information as they can straightaway. Also, it allows the client to tell their story and background to the counselor to help get to know and understand them better. An example of an open ended question could be, “Tell me about your family?”
Closed Question: On the other hand, a close question is used to gather only specific information, and can be answered with a single word or a short phrase. These are used if the counselor needs something small to add to a bigger piece of the puzzle, and to move on through the session.
Paraphrasing: The counselor will use paraphrasing to restate what their client has said and to clarify any statements. This can help show the patient that the counselor understands and is listening to what they have to say, and will make them feel acknowledged and more comfortable in the setting.
Summarizing: In summarizing the counselor will focus on the main points of their conversation with the client as a way to highlight and clarify what had been talked about. Also, by summarizing, the client can make sure that the counselor has accurate information and portray of their conversation.
Note taking: Just like in a lecture, the practice of taking notes and jotting down pieces of information is helpful if you need to remember something after the session. It can also help when the counselor is going back to reiterate or summarize any of the conversation to point out key details that they thought were important that were expressed by the client.
Homework: If you want to achieve something or get good at anything, you are going to have to practice, practice, and practice some more. If your client is serious about getting the help that they need, then they should be willing to take the necessary steps into addressing it. A counselor may decide to give their client homework to work on the issues that they are dealing with. For instance, if they are trying to boost self esteem, the counselor may have them write down 10 things that they feel they are good at, and why. Or, set them on a mission to sign up or get involved in a new hobby to expand their skills and open themselves up to meeting new people.
Reflection of Feeling: Empathy is a good counseling technique to allow the client to be aware that the counselor knows what they are feeling. By using reflection of feeling, the counselor may use emotions and words that reflect what they hear the client is expressing. Therefore, the client will feel that they are putting their emotions out there for good use and purpose.
Proxemics: The proxemics of counseling ensures that the client and the therapist both are in a space where they feel comfortable and trusted. There should be no physical barriers, open and spacious setting, soft lighting, and white noise to help maintain a professional space for openness.
Speak Towards Fulfillment
Counseling requires cooperation, patience, and openness on both the client and the patient side. Just as with other rewarding ventures, counseling does not have immediate results, and you will only be able to see or feel its effects overtime. Trust the process, and for an easy way to understanding more theories of social psychology, check out this video textbook that has helped hundreds of other individuals better understand psychology and personality. Get on the road to better understanding yourself, or getting the tools you need to help others, and create the balance that you need in your life, today!