Counseling - A Three Phase Process

This is a simple three-step process for counseling. This is a process to use people who come to you with a problem or wants to discuss something. It is for the 'normal neurotics, like me and you" but not intended for dealing with people with serious psychiatric issues.

It does not give advice (a mistake in any counseling method). If you adhere to this approach you will be safe and probably do much good.

Stage One: Listening

Listening involves knowing the meaning of the text as well as the emotions associated with it.

Cerebral understanding is not enough.

Do not make statements that determines the problem or of the other party's feelings. Instead, ask instead. Don't say, "You're feeling . . . " but instead, "Are you feeling . . ? ". It's not, "The issue is . . ." Instead, "You think the problem is . . ." Or "The way you see it is . . . ". At this point, it might suffice to simply just say "uh-huh" or shake your head.

The stage is over when the person starts talking about the root of the problem. You will know you have done well when you get agreement to your suggestions of the problem and what the person feels about it.

Stage Two: Exploratory Listening

When the person speaking to you is comfortable, they will move on to deeper things. This is the time to begin to ask questions. Asking if they have had this experience before. What have they tried to do in similar situations - whether it worked or not and if there are any other thoughts and emotions taking place for them. If you can clearly see something make observations of the things you observe. Examples include, "You seem happy/sad/angry . . ." and the list goes on. Even here it is probably more appropriate to ask questions instead of making statements.

The key issue at this point is staying in touch with their feelings in the way they feel them.

If you can't do this, inform them Don't try to fake it. You can something like, "Sorry, I can't handle this right now." They will appreciate this more than playing (and they'll be able to tell that you're not really pretending).

The stage is over when the problem is looked at differently, and a fresh perspective is gained.

Stage Three: Trying Different Things

When they begin to see things differently, they may begin to think about things differently, or at least make plans to.

The temptation when anyone arrives at you with a problem is to jump into this situation quickly. This is not a good idea. What is needed is time to explore what is going on and to see it Amanda Smith Writer from a different perspective.

At this point, you are able to suggest what been successful for you.

Don't get trapped into playing "Yes, but . . . ".

If they offer reasons for the reason why your suggestions don't work Do not be a defender. Instead, ask what they have tried, why it didn't work, and what they can do differently this time.

You might want to make arrangements that they check in with you to ensure you can keep track of how they are doing with their new approach to doing things.

The stage is finished when they attempt to demonstrate the their new behaviours with you or when they've got plans for the new behavior they would like to try with others.

The process is largely about listening.

The other person always knows more about their own circumstances than you do.

Never offer advice about what people should do. In the third phase, you could want to discuss your experiences in the event that you've dealt with a similar issue yourself.

With a little practice you'll be able to become proficient fast at this skill. You may well become the person people turn to for advice'. If you follow this method and don't give advice, you'll be doing much good and help numerous people.

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