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Counseling Micro-Skills Notes #2

The following notes are an aid to up-skilling and cross-skilling your counseling micro-skills, to complement your university studies or supervision training. They are not a replacement for your class/internship materials and instruction.


Beck, K., & Kulzer, J. (2018). Teaching counseling microskills to audiology students: Recommendations from professional counseling educators. Seminars in Hearing, 39(1), 91-106.

Active Listening

- Challenging micro-skill to learn and maintain; often taken for granted by students

- Requires the therapist to be ‘fully present’ whilst juggling internal dialogue, attending to the client’s words and body language, and screening out distractions

- Active self-monitoring metacognition and paying attention

- Accurate responding (e.g., reflection/paraphrasing), whilst attending to nonverbal and affective cues, client cognitive processes and patterns

A male counseling therapist actively listening to a female client, as they sit outdoors under a tree

- Practice activity: Consider ‘inactive listening’ (c.f. Edgan, 2007)

- Confidence + knowledge à enhanced counseling micro-skills

- Students often are challenged by integrating multiple communication messages from the client

- Practice activity: Attend to another without being preoccupied by your nerves and without making clinical judgments

1. Remember and respond with ‘their words’ (e.g., of the situation/experience/emotions)

2. Ignore nonverbal communication whilst learning active listening

3. Start with 2-3 minutes, building toward >15 mins Nonverbal Communications

- A ‘two-way’ process

- Therapist aims to read the patient, whilst monitoring themselves

“… facial expressions, eye contact, physical gestures, paralanguage (voice tone, pacing, and volume), posture (body angle and orientation, back posture, hand placement, leg placement, and position in a chair), proximity (body positioning and physical space between two individuals, physical setting and space), and autonomic display (e.g., sweat

production, flushed face, blotchy skin, shallow breathing, stomach noises, and tear production)” p. 9

- Culture + individual biopsychosocial

- Therapist also reads the congruence between the client’s verbal and nonverbal communications

- Therapist paralanguage can be challenging to monitor

- Therapist to develop reflective awareness of the usefulness/not of unconscious mirroring

- Therapist self-care can provide stress coping strategies to decrease autonomic displays

- Practice activity: S.O.L.E.R. microskills framework

- Sit directly across from the client, no barriers between

- Open posture

- Lean into the client, when appropriate

- Eye contact, when appropriate

- Relax

Next installment: Silence

~ Charmayne


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