"There are a broad range of counselling micro skills that can be utilized effectively in therapy sessions. Within the context of their personal history, effective micro skill applications can encourage clients to tell their stories in colourful and extensive detail. Such effective implementation of micro skills facilitates the development of rapport and a positive therapeutic alliance thereby permitting clients to enrich their perspectives regarding problem and opportunity situations in their lives (Egan, 2007). Three important counseling techniques will be explored, all of which have been clinically demonstrated to be efficacious in a broad range of counseling settings (Egan). The skills of ...view middle of the document...
This discrepancy of styles presented both a challenge and opportunity for the therapist to apply his counselling skills in a tactful yet flexible manner, while taking into account Mary's cognitive preference and coping strategies (Egan, 2007).
The session commenced with proficient use of active listening skills. Active listening is a process by which the counsellor communicates verbally and non-verbally (Robertson, 2005) in a manner that allows the client to feel heard and understood and have their stories and emotions validated. It is proposed by many that the act of listening is the fundamental pillar of effective counselling (Graybar & Leonard, 2005). Active listening enhances and accelerates rapport building and is associated with increased client satisfaction with therapy (Duncan, Miller & Sharps, 2004). Littaeur, Sexton & Wynn (2005) found that clients reported higher levels of trust and satisfaction with counsellors who utilized effective active listening skills. It may also serve to differentiate the counseling relationship from other interpersonal relationships the client has. This distinction assists in creating counselling expectations of the client, which are important in client outcomes (Duncan et al). Active listening can also facilitate problem resolution and assist the client to experience further self-integration and understanding (Kensit, 2000).
Counsellor: "Mmm" Client: "Um. She did. She'd go off one night here, one night there, but most of it, most of the time she would sleep in her bed and carry right through. (Pause) She did well up until about two weeks ago and then completely turned around, and would not go..
This example indicates active listening through an objective acknowledgment, rather than a subjective comment by the counsellor and a pause, therein encouraging the client freedom to continue telling her story and possibly fostering increased rapport, as evidenced by the clients affirmative response.
However improper use of counselling skills can hinder the therapeutic alliance (Duncan et al., 2004) and may even be counterproductive for the client (Egan, 2007). An example of active listening being misused through interrupting:
Client: "Ok. So that's what she's sensing, is that…" Counsellor: (Interrupting) You have to learn to trust your heart as well as your head and when and, and, you're going to feel more comfortable. You trust the intensity of the relationship. You trust the intensity of your experience." Client: "Mmhum."
Here the client responded incongruently, with a verbal affirmation but a contrasting tonality of uncertainty, suggesting a possible break of rapport due to the counsellor's interruption. It should also be noted that since Mary presented with a loss of control over a situation, interruptions by the therapist may have reinforced her self-defeatist attitude that she needed to be compliant with external sources. In these instances, the cure can be worse than the disease...