Oklahoma Department of Corrections. Communication Series: 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
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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:
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.
During this information session, you will be able to:
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.
Benefits of Counseling
Counseling may be helpful in any of the following areas:
Some Qualities of a Good Counselor
Use questions to elicit facts or feelings about the client’s health.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Arriving at Agreement
This technique involves clarifying and summarizing the decisions that a client has made during the counseling session.
There are several important tools in the counseling kit that will enable you to effectively communicate and counsel others:
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Remember the SOLERF method:
Take a look at how you are sitting right now. Hmm … arms crossed? Slumped? Bored expression? Looking offside? Not good.
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…?”
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.
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.
Focusing on the Main Points
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.”
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?
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.