We are all counselors in one way or another. We help our friends and family when they need advice or support. Counseling skills are useful for all people to know because they can be used to help others. There are many specific skills that most counselors use to help a person. Counseling and guidance techniques may vary depending on the person in need. For example, marriage counseling will be much different from child counseling. But some skills are common to all counseling.
An important but often overlooked aspect of counseling is goal setting. Goals help give patients something strive for and this changes old behavior patterns. In guidance, goal setting is normally figuring out what sort of future the person wants and then working backwards to develop an actionable plan to get there. In general counseling the goals may be less tangible than in career counseling, for example. For example, a patient's goal may be to increase his confidence. Actionable steps can still be taken but must be sensitive to the patient's current life situation.
Many times people who are seeking guidance and counseling are at a crossroads in their life. Choices can seem overwhelming. It is important for these people to take a moment, pause and take stock of where they are. Ask the patient to give their history of what brought them up to the present moment. The words they use to describe their lives will give valuable insight into how they see the world and themselves.
Non Judgment and Listening Skills
Most people just want someone to listen to them. It is very important for a counselor not to interrupt the patient, even if they have something to add. Write down the thought and wait until the patient is done. Of course, if the patient repeats themselves they can be directed to come back to something else. A non-judgmental attitude is essential. This will build trust and make the patient feel safe and respected. Patients need a person to listen and not judge them.
Patients Solve their Problems
Most patients know the solutions to their own problems but have an unconscious block that is preventing them from seeing the solution. The role of the counselor is to lead the person to the best solution. The person needs to feel like he has created or co-created the solution in order to accept it. For example, a woman in an abusive relationship may unconsciously know she must break off the relationship but in the interim she is still with the abuser. The counselor must help the woman discover all the reasons why she should leave the relationship.
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