Counseling Skills & Techniques
What Is Counseling?
- Individual counseling, the most common type, focuses on an individual’s growth and mental health.
- Couples or marriage counseling focuses on assisting couples in overcoming conflict and working toward a stronger relationship.
- Family counseling focuses on complex family dynamics and how they affect each individual as well as the group.
- Group counseling focuses on treating an individual in a group environment to facilitate growth.
New York University
NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development
Master of Arts in Counseling for Mental Health and Wellness
Aspiring mental health counselors are prepared to pursue licensure with NYU Steinhardt’s MPCAC-accredited online counseling master’s. Students can earn their degree in as few as 21 mos. GRE not req.
- Prepare to become a mental health counselor
- Accredited by the MPCAC
- As few as 21 months to complete
- GRE not required
Graduate School of Education and Psychology
Master of Arts in Psychology
Pepperdine University’s online Master of Arts in Psychology program prepares students to pursue doctoral study or a career in human services.
- Open to all undergrad majors
- No GRE required
- Can be completed in about 18 months
The Process of Counseling
- Attending: Staying present for your client requires giving them your undivided attention, making eye contact, mirroring body language and demonstrating your understanding. These behaviors demonstrate to your client that you hear and recognize their concerns.
- Active listening: Using all of your senses to listen to your client means more than just hearing what they are saying. According to the Center for Creative Leadership, active listening helps to establish trust and inspires respect.
- Closed questions can be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response. Because they do not encourage deeper exploration, they can provide limited information and should be used sparingly.
- Open questions cannot be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and requires a client to reflect on an answer. Open questions should be intentional and aimed at helping a client explore their feelings.
- Reflections: Clients may not always be able to put their feelings into words. Counselors can help them identify the emotions they express in their statements or nonverbal cues.
- Restating/rephrasing: Counselors can validate and gain further clarification from their clients by rephrasing statements made during a session.
- Affirmations: Building a client’s self-confidence can help to eliminate harmful thought patterns and increase their propensity toward positive life choices.
- Psychoanalytic Theory: Developed by Sigmund Freud, this theory supports the idea that unconscious forces drive human actions. Psychoanalytic therapy sessions may incorporate dream analysis, free association and transference analysis.
- Person-Centered Theory: Developed by Carl Rogers, this theory operates on the assumption that every human being has the ability to fulfill their potential. In person-centered therapy sessions, counselors act as a supportive guide.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This theory explains that human problems stem from negative thought patterns. CBT counseling challenges automatic thoughts and encourages clients to find logic in their thinking.
- Family Systems Model: Developed by Murray Bowen, this theory states that family is the primary source of emotions and personality. It is often used in marriage and family counseling sessions.