Counseling Techniques

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Oklahoma Department of Corrections:

Oklahoma Department of Corrections Communication Series: Counseling Techniques 1

Counseling Techniques:

Counseling Techniques Course Created/Authored By: Muriel L. Irwin, MLEd.,CTO II, Employee Development Unit Course Adapted From: Adapted from articles written by author Jan Carrie Stevens Course Approved by & Date: Etta Thomas, Curriculum Development Specialist 01-Mar-2010 Jerry Mayfield, Training Coordinator II 15-Mar-2012 Bryan D. Bell, Training Specialist II 04-Mar-2013 Dr. Don Kiffin, Training Administrator 17-Mar-2014 Annual Reviewer & Dates: Muriel L. Irwin, MLEd., CTO II 19-Mar-2012 Muriel L. Irwin, MLEd., CTO II 19-Mar-2013 Muriel L. Irwin, MLEd., CTO II 17-Mar-2014 Assigned Course Code Index: DOC 502 ELM Category : In-Service Classroom or Supervisory On-Line Type of Training Credit : Supervisory Training Credit: 1 hour Approved Instructor(s): In-Service Classroom - Certified Instructor or Supervisory On-Line - None Target Population(s): All Correctional Employees Delivery/Presentation Method: Classroom or Self-Paced Evaluation Procedures: Instructor Observation/ None Data Sources: Written permission from author Jan Carrie Stevens has been granted and is on file: . 2

Counseling Techniques - Abstract :

Counseling Techniques - Abstract The Employee Development Unit (EDU) strives to continuously provide information to educate our employees regarding the development of interpersonal communication skills. Set in the “Communication Series” category this curriculum will assist us in meeting our mission of developing employees by exploring alternatives, building on strengths, and developing new skills. 3


Objectives During this information session, you will be able to: Identify the benefits of counseling. Determine in what areas counseling can be beneficial. Identify some of the qualities of a good counselor. Identify the elements of good counseling skills. Identity inappropriate responses in counseling. Identify the important counseling technique tools. 4


Introduction There are times that the challenges in our lives may lead to isolation, anxiety, depression, and other health problems. Through counseling, you can explore your alternatives, build on your strengths, and develop new skills. Your feelings and concerns about family, friends, health, and work deserve attention. Counseling gives you the opportunity, in a quiet, supportive environment, to take the time to stop, think, and plan. With sensitive and caring feedback, you can gain new awareness and learn to deal with your challenges in new, productive ways. 5

Benefits of Counseling :

Benefits of Counseling Benefits of Counseling Improved communication Enhanced relationships A happier family Peace of mind Improved self-esteem More satisfaction out of life Personal growth Improved job performance 6

Benefits of Counseling :

Benefits of Counseling Counseling may be helpful in any of the following areas: Adult relationships Career change Dealing with loss of a loved one Anxiety Depression Adjustment to family changes Parent-child relationships Sibling relationships Divorce Cooperative parenting between divorced parents Abusive relationships Learning Disabilities or Attention Deficit Disorder Trauma 7

Essential Counseling Techniques:

Essential Counseling Techniques Some Qualities of a Good Counselor Empathy (the ability to understand the view of another person) Respectful Warm Confidential/discreet Honest Attentive/listening Unbiased Understandable/clear Unhurried 8

Elements of Counseling Skills:

Elements of Counseling Skills Effective Questioning Use questions to elicit facts or feelings about the client’s health. Use closed-ended questions (yes/no) to quickly gather factual, non-sensitive information (e.g., name, age). Open-ended questions (e.g., “What do you know about the working with female offenders?” or “Why do you think a career in corrections is for you?”) are critical for eliciting feelings and detailed information. Use probing questions (e.g., “Can you tell me more about ____?”) to elicit more in-depth information. 9

Elements of Counseling Skills:

Elements of Counseling Skills Active Listening In order to get the information you need to help a client, you must listen actively. This technique involves communicating, without words, your interest in the needs the client expresses. You can open up communication by using silence. You can let the client know that you are listening by maintaining eye contact, leaning forward, occasionally saying words like “yes,” and “please continue”—these are signs of respect and generate a feeling of well-being in the person who is being heard. 10

Elements of Counseling Skills:

Elements of Counseling Skills Paraphrasing, Summarizing, and Clarifying This technique involves repeating, synthesizing, or summarizing in other words what the client has told you. This helps the provider clarify what the client is saying, and helps the client to feel that he or she has been heard. 11

Elements of Counseling Skills:

Elements of Counseling Skills Reflecting and Validating Feelings This technique involves clarifying the feelings the client expresses in order to help understand his or her emotions. For example, “It seems to me that you are worried because you suspect that your husband had sex with other women, and you are afraid that you will get AIDS.” It is helpful to clients to let them know that their reactions to a situation are normal, and that those feelings are common to other people in similar situations. You can communicate that the feelings are valid. 12

Elements of Counseling Skills:

Elements of Counseling Skills Giving Clear Information Before you give any information, it is helpful to ask questions to determine how much the client already knows. It is important to provide information using words that the client can understand. Ask clients to repeat the information you have given them to verify that they understood. 13

Elements of Counseling Skills:

Elements of Counseling Skills Arriving at Agreement This technique involves clarifying and summarizing the decisions that a client has made during the counseling session. 14

Inappropriate Responses in Counseling:

Inappropriate Responses in Counseling Judging : For example, “You wouldn’t have these problems if you had acted differently!” Attacking : For example, “How could you be that irresponsible? Denial : For example, “Don’t worry. I’m sure that it’s nothing important.” Pity: For example, “Poor thing! How terrible that happened!” 15

Counseling Technique Tools:

Counseling Technique Tools There are several important tools in the counseling kit that will enable you to effectively communicate and counsel others: Asking questions Active Listening Encouraging Body Language Paraphrasing Summarizing 16

Counseling Technique Tools:

Counseling Technique Tools Asking questions open and closed - is an important tool in the counseling kit. They can help a person open up or close them down. An open ended question (OEQ) is one that is used in order to gather lots of information – you ask it with the intent of getting a long answer. OEQ’s are great for: Starting the information gathering part of the session Keeping the client talking 17

Counseling Technique Tools – Asking Questions, continued:

Counseling Technique Tools – Asking Questions, continued Open-Ended Questions (OEQs) have no correct answer and require an explanation of sorts. The who-what-where-why-when-how questions your English teacher taught you to ask? Little did she know you’d be using them for asking questions in counseling! Here are some good ones: What brought you in here today? Do you have an idea about why this keeps happening? How does that make you feel? You’ll notice that I didn’t use “why?” directly. This is because some people find it threatening and overwhelming. It implies judgment and it can be asking an unanswerable question. 18

Counseling Technique Tools – Asking Questions, continued:

Counseling Technique Tools – Asking Questions, continued A closed ended question (CEQ) is one used to gather specific information - it can normally be answered with either a single word or a short phrase. Good basic counsel skills to know! Closed Ended Questions (CEQ’s) are those that can easily be answered with a “yes” or a “no” or brief information . For example: What is your name and date of birth? Did you call the health practitioner to set up a physical? Where do you work? Occupation? They sound a little harsh, but are needed for: 1. Getting necessary information 2. To get bring a chatty client back on track or interrupt her/him 19

Counseling Technique Tools:

Counseling Technique Tools Active listening A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while he knows something. - Wilson Mizner Is hard but rewarding work. It is so tempting to interrupt, so easy to be distracted. Active listening happens when you "listen for meaning". The listener says very little but conveys empathy, acceptance and genuiness. The listener only speaks to find out if a statement (or two or twenty) has been correctly heard and understood. 20

Counseling Technique Tools – Active Listening, continued:

Counseling Technique Tools – Active Listening, continued So… 1. Before the session, make sure your physical needs are taken care of (thirst, hunger, bathroom, stretching). 2. Look at the speaker. Taking a few notes can keep you on task; mentally put masking tape across your mouth. 3. Watch your body language! More on this later. 4. Encourage the speaker to continue with short, gentle comments like “uh-huh”, “really!?”, “tell me more”, etc. If the person is not normally talkative, you may have to refer to your brief one or two word notes and ask an open question. 21

Counseling Technique Tools:

Counseling Technique Tools Encouraging Body Language I speak two languages, Body and English! - Mae West Developing encouraging body language (BL) can take some practice. We all have our favorite stance, our “default position.” At the same time, communication is 55% body language, 38% tone and 7% words. So, remember that your client may not remember what was said, but they will remember how you made them feel. 22

Counseling Technique Tools – Encouraging Body Language, continued:

Counseling Technique Tools – Encouraging Body Language, continued Remember the SOLERF method: S - Squarely face person vs. sitting kitty-corner. O - use Open posture vs. crossed arms and legs L - Lean a little toward the person vs. settling back in your chair E - use Eye contact vs. staring off into deep space R - Relax, keep it natural vs. sitting like a board F – look friendly vs. neutral or scowling Take a look at how you are sitting right now. Hmm … arms crossed? Slumped? Bored expression? Looking offside? Not good. 23

Counseling Technique Tools:

Counseling Technique Tools Paraphrasing When you, the listener, restate succinctly and tentatively what the speaker said - conveying empathy, acceptance and genuineness. Since we cannot read our client’s mind and we’ve been given a lot of extraneous material, it’s good to learn how to rephrase briefly and acknowledge that this is what we think the client has said. For example, let’s say the client has gone into a lot of detail about a traffic jam and the effect on his blood pressure and his resulting visit with the doctor and the rude nurse and to paraphrase would be to say in a tentative voice,” So after the traffic jam you felt your blood pressure was up, and the doctor confirmed this…?” 24

Counseling Technique Tools – Paraphrasing, continued:

Counseling Technique Tools – Paraphrasing, continued By doing this you are letting your client know that you understand and, if you don’t, are willing to be corrected. AND you are help in her or him to “cut to the chase.” What would not be helpful to say right now is, “So you have an anger management problem!?” It may be what you are thinking, but you want the client to keep talking and for the client to come to that conclusion on her or his own. 25

Counseling Technique Tools – Paraphrasing, continued:

Counseling Technique Tools – Paraphrasing, continued By the way, this is a good time to take interest in the tone of your voice. Be watchful of whether it is… High / low Loud / soft Fast / slow Accommodating / demanding Light-hearted / gloomy Moderation in all things including voice . Remember, the person may not remember what was said, but they will remember how you made them feel. 26

Counseling Technique Tools:

Counseling Technique Tools Focusing on the Main Points Summary In counseling, is when you focus on the main points of a presentation or session in order to highlight them. At the same time you are giving the “gist”, you are checking to see if you are accurate. Sum-ups happen at the beginning and at the end of a session. In a beginning summary, you are recalling what happened at the last meeting. In an ending summary , you are attempting to condense what has happened over 40 minutes into a few minutes worth of material. In both cases your tone needs to imply that you are open to some changes in perspective. It’s important the both the client and you are “reading from the same page.” 27

Counseling Technique Tools – Summarizing, continued:

Counseling Technique Tools – Summarizing, continued So let’s say counselor Joan is seeing client Mary. Mary has been speaking for 20 minutes – she is depressed, failing school, concerned about her boyfriends dedication to her, and overwhelmed by parents’ demands. Here is what a succinct, tentative summary would sound like. 1. You came in today because you are feeling depressed. 2. Your school work is not going well. 3. You worry your boyfriend doesn’t love you. 4. You are also unhappy with the amount of stress your parents are putting on you to get A’s. Would you say this is accurate? 28


Closure In today’s tough economic times, the effects of extreme financial problems and agency budget crunches can be seen in all walks of life and can be experienced by all types of people. The effects can produce stress related health and mental health problems, anxiety and depression for both the offender population and staff. Corrections as we have seen is not immune from these effect either. As such, it has become increasingly important for correctional staff to learn these valuable counseling techniques which in turn could make our jobs easier and provide a safer working environment. 29

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