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The counseling skills are technical and interpersonal characteristics of an individual working in the role of a counselor in order to better understand as well as listen to their visitors or clients. Through these skills, it becomes easier for a counselor to help his client in dealing with their problems and leading them to a happier life (Cooper, et al., 2007). This report is also aimed to discuss core counseling skills. There are various counseling skills such as active listening, summarizing, paraphrasing, body language, use of questions as well as reflecting on content and feelings. However, the main focus of this report will be on two core counseling skills such as active listening and paraphrasing.
Active listening is considered the practice of listening to a speaker and indicates that such a listener is both hearing and understanding what the speaker is trying to say through providing feedback. There are mental health professionals as well as counselors who regularly practice active listening. In other words, active listening is when the counselor completely focuses on what his client is speaking, understands the message, comprehends the information, and then responds thoughtfully (Culley & Bond, 2011).
According to the research performed by Sanders (2011), active listening is very crucial while attending to any client for the counselor as in order to provide the solution to their problems, it is very important to understand such issues. Through active listening, the counselors can get an idea of what the client is willing to say, and accordingly, the feedback can be given by those counselors. According to Mearns & Thorne (2007), there are mainly three aspects of active listening skills in the counseling process. The first aspect is comprehension where the listener actively analyzes as well as listens to what the speaker is talking about without the thoughts on any other topic or any sort of distractions. Another aspect of this skill is retention which requires the listener to remember what the speaker has said in the conversation so that the complete message can be conveyed to the counselor. Some of the counselors may also take notes or use the tricks to memorize the message while practicing the active listening skill. The third aspect of this active listening skill is the act of responding which is about giving both verbal as well as non-verbal feedback to the speaker. It indicates that the listener is not only listening to the speaker but also understanding what the speaker actually wants to say (Rogers, 1957).
Empathy is the core condition in counseling which is associated with the active listening skills of the counselors. Empathy in counseling is about the counselor looking at the client's world as they see it. After actively listening to the problems of their clients, the counselors communicate back to them in such a way that makes the client feel that they have understood their condition. Empathy with the clients can help the counselors in connecting with them in a better way and offer more effective resolutions to their concerns. Empathy is the core condition that helps the counselors in establishing a more effective therapeutic relationship with the clients (Egan, 2017).
As per the opinion of Trower et al. (2005), paraphrasing is referred to as the rewording of the content said by the clients. It can be stated that paraphrasing and reflection are quite similar but there is a difference in the content which is being fed back to the client. On the other hand, the reflection is generally about rewording the emotional content. Paraphrasing is more associated with the rewording of the factual content stated by the clients. Considering the meaning of paraphrasing in the counseling context, it happens when the counselor states back to the clients what he has listened to from them in his own words but without making any changes in the meaning of such message conveyed. This skill is highly useful in the counseling process. One of the biggest benefits of this skill is that it helps the counselor let clients know that he is listening to them very carefully and completely understanding what they are willing to say. Through paraphrasing, it can also be identified that if there is any confusion or misunderstanding in understanding the message of clients it can further be clarified (Rogers, 1957).
Paraphrasing is not only used in the counseling processes, but also it is a very useful skill in general communication related to businesses as well as daily lives. By interpreting the messages in their own words, the listeners can get more clarity about the message conveyed. With the help of paraphrasing skills, some of the key issues can be highlighted which were noticed by the counselor while listening to his clients. This shows the attention of the counselor to the conversations between him and his clients. Considering the usefulness of this skill further, it can be stated that a client brings the material and dares to share it with the counselor. The counselor shows the client that he is listening to him by giving him back a little portion of what he has said in the counselor's words (Sanders, 2011).
There is a related core condition in the counseling process which is congruence. Congruence can be referred to as the counselor being authentic, realistic as well as genuine with his clients. Congruence is about matching the inner experience as well as the outward experiences of the counselors. This condition helps the counselors in maintaining b therapeutic relationships with their clients (Mearns & Thorne, 2007).
In a nutshell, it can be concluded that active listening and paraphrasing are two important counseling skills that help counselors in resolving the issues of their clients more effectively and also building b therapeutic relationships with them. Moreover, the discussion on Empathy and Congruence was also provided in the report in order to reflect their role in strengthening the therapeutic relationships. For an effective counseling process, the counselors are required to listen to their clients actively and respond to them back to show they have understood the message conveyed.
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