Interviewing skills, listening, asking questions, monitoring.


Initial Counseling Interview Or Clinical Interview.

Opening the Counseling Session- Interviewing skills.

  • Why?
  • We need to have detailed information about why she or he is seeking your services. 
  • How the initial interview is structured and developed will have a strong influence upon the subsequent developments and outcomes of a counseling relationship.
  • Moreover, it maximum demands upon the counselor’s interviewing skills, knowledge, and abilities.
  • Errors made in the first session are usually much more costly than others.
  • The counselor should recognize that a major counseling goal has been achieved when, at the end of the initial interview, he feels he has established a helping or working relationship with the counselee.

Counseling Interviewing: Skills and Strategies

The counseling interview is a very common type of communication situation.

  • The counsellor performs the counseling role whenever called upon to offer advice on emotional, financial, academic, or personal problems. This situation directly influence sensitive aspects of others’ lives.
  • Effective counseling skills begin with a thoughtful self analysis including an assessment of counsellor’s own feelings and communication skills. Based upon this analysis, the counsellor must be realistic about his own counseling skills and not try to solve every problem encountered.
  • The counsellor must also carefully consider the background of the client so that the counsellor’s advice can meet that person’s needs.
  • Based on the counsellor’s analysis of own skills as well as the needs of the other person, the counsellor must decide whether to use the directive or nondirective approach. The directive approach is best when it is necessary for the counsellor to control the interview situation and the nondirective approach is best when the interviewee would best control the situation.
  • Although the structure of the interview can vary.
    • Four stages of interviewing skills:

      1. First, the counsellor should establish rapport and create a helpful climate.
      2. Second, he should thoroughly assess the crisis/problem faced by the client.
      3. Third, the counsellor should probe more deeply into the client’s feelings.
      4. Finally, the counsellor should come to some decision and offer potential solutions.
  • A conductive interview climate must allow for trust, openness, and rapport between the client and the counsellor. The counsellor must also be an effective listener to truly understand the feelings of the client. When appropriate, the counsellor must ask probing questions to gather more information.
  • The counsellor should use a client centered approach and provide either highly directive or highly nondirective responses. Highly nondirective responses encourage the interviewee to continue analyzing and communicating ideas. Highly directive responses provide the interviewee with directives and ultimatums. These forms of responses are two ends of a continuum, and can be thought of as extremes.
  • After effective closure of the interview, the counsellor should carefully evaluate the interview so that he can further refine his skills.

Counseling Interview Process.

1. Establish Relationship.

  • Empathy, genuineness and warmth are three conditions that enhances relationship building in the counselling situation: empathy, genuineness and warmth.
  • These qualities are conveyed to the client thorough verbal and non-verbal behaviors of the counsellor and considered as one of the interviewing skills.
  • In order that the client feels comfortable in expressing him/herself in an uninhibited way, the relationship between the client and the counsellor needs to be built on reciprocal trust.
  • It is the counsellor’s responsibility to provide a safe, confidential environment, and to offer empathy, understanding and respect.
  • However, in counselling, relationship takes on a more specific meaning.
  • As a matter of fact, the counsellor establishes rapport with the client based on trust, respect and mutual purpose using his interviewing skills.
  • When there is good rapport, it creates a positive psychological climate and vice-versa.
  • The goals of the initial counseling process are as follows:
    1. Establish a comfortable and positive relationship.
    2. Explain the counseling process and mutual responsibilities to the client.
    3. Facilitate communications.
    4. Identify and verify the clients concerns that brought her or him to seek
      counseling assistance.
    5. Plan, with the client, to obtain assessment data needed to proceed with the
      counseling process.

2. Problem Identification and Exploration.

  • At this stage, clients must assume more responsibility because it is their problem, and therefore, it is their responsibility to communicate the details of the problem to the counselor and respond to any questions the counselor may have in order to maximize counselors assistance and help.
  • During this phase, the counselor continues to exhibit attending behavior and may place particular emphasis on such communication skills as paraphrasing, clarifying doubts, perception, checking or giving feedback.
  • The counselor may question the client, but questions are in such a way as to help the client to continue exploring client’s problem area.
  • This may be a time for information gathering. The more usable information the counselor has, the greater are the prospects of accurate assessment of the clients needs.
  • However, the information is gathered under three headings: the time dimension, the feeling dimension and cognitive dimension.
    1. The time dimension: This includes the clients past experiences, especially those which he or she may view as influencing experiences of their lives.
    2. The feeling dimension: This includes the emotions and feelings of the client towards himself and herself, as well as significant others, including groups, attitudes, values, and self concept.
    3. The cognitive dimension: This includes how the client solves problems, the coping styles that she or he employs, the rationality used in making daily decisions and the clients capacity and readiness for learning.
  • The goals of this stage are for counselors to seek and integrate as much information as possible from the client.

3. Plan for Problem Solving : Interviewing skills

  • Once the counselor has determined that all relevant information regarding the client’s concern is available and understood, and once the client has accepted the need for doing something about a specific problem, the time is ripe for developing a plan to solve or remediate the concern of the client.
  • Mistakes in goal setting can lead to nonproductive counseling procedures and clients loss of confidence in the counseling process.
  • In this stage there are some sequential steps in viewing the processes involved.
    1. Define the problem.
    2. Identify and list all possible solutions.
    3. Explore the consequences of the suggested solutions.
    4. Prioritize the solutions on the basis of priority needs.
  • In the further development of this plan, the counselor recognizes that the client will frequently not arrive at basic insights, implications, or probabilities as fast as the counselor will.
  • However, most counselors will agree that it is better to guide the client toward realizing these understandings by himself or herself, rather than just telling the client outright.
  • To facilitate the clients understanding, the counselor may use techniques of repetition, mild confrontation, interpretation, information and obviously encouragement.

4. Solution Application and Termination.

  • In this final stage, the client has the responsibility for applying the determined solution, and the counselor has a responsibility to encourage the client’s acting on his or her determined problem solution.
  • During the time that the client is actively encouraged in applying the problem solution, the counselor will often maintain contact as a source of follow up, support and encouragement.
  • The client may also need the counselor’s assistance in the event things do not go according to plan.
  • Once it determines that the counselor and client have dealt with the client’s issue to the extent possible and practical, the process should be terminated.

Communication Skills.

Verbal communication skills:

Effective Speaking as a mean of communication, effective speaking plays a vital role in people’s lives. Though everybody speaks everyday and is able to express ideas, thoughts, or requests, not everybody can do it well. Some people are difficult to follow, some explain their thoughts in a complicated manner, and some are simply boring to listen to. Avoid these mistakes.

  • Use plain and simple words unless the audience is specialized in the subject area.
  • Use complete simple sentences for the message to be easier to comprehend.
  • Do not speak too fast. It is difficult to comprehend information if much of it is presented in a short period of time.
  • Make pauses. Pauses between sentences and ideas will give a listener some space to think the words over, to understand the message.
  • Structure and connect ideas. Major points should  present in a logical manner. Otherwise it is difficult to follow the speaker. So, make sure that each next thought expressed expands on the subject and on the previous point.
  • Support ideas not only with words, but with intonation and nonverbal means of communication as well. Proper intonation can stress certain ideas you want to draw attention to.
  • Nonverbal means of communication, such as gestures and facial expression, establish a closer connection with the audience, and enhance the communicated message.

Non Verbal Communication Skills:

  • People judge us by our first impressions. They react to us just on how we look physically. This is a type of non-verbal communication.
  • We receive information non verbally first and foremost. This means one does not have to use language to communicate.
  • Non verbal communication skills are just as important as verbal communication. When we transmit information to a person, the important things is to note how we say something is also transmitted in addition to what was said to them.
  • In fact a lot of times the receiver interprets what we have said to them by how we have said it and not the words themselves.
  • If our non verbal communication skills are less than adequate, then there is more of a chance that the person who receives the information will misinterpret what we say.
  • Non verbal communication skills include a common system of symbols, signs and gestures. Even the way we dress conveys non verbal communication.
  • Non verbal communication skills give expression to our messages that we are transmitting to be received as a communication.
  • It also involves what we call body language, which includes things like facial expressions, hand gestures, tone and pitch of voice, smell, essentially anything non verbal.

To check your understanding of the topic, take the test given below,

Practice MCQ test – Interviewing skill, listening, asking questions, monitoring.


Gladding, S. T. (2018). Counselling: A Comprehensive profession (9th Edn). Pearson

UNIT 3 Counselling Process: Counselling Interview and Counselling Relationship, Egyankosh


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