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Top 7 basic counselling microskills

By Ben Madden


If you’re looking for a career in the world of counselling, then it’s important to understand the range of skills that a good counsellor should build up before undertaking a career in the field. 

Microskills are basic counselling skills that allow counsellors to connect with their clients, and while they are often job-specific, they are also skills that can allow people to be empathetic and understanding of the people around them. 

To help you better understand what it takes to be a good counsellor, we’ve taken a look at the rewarding nature of counselling, some of the important microskills that you should be aware of before pursuing a career in counselling and how you can build up your counselling skill set.

Is counselling a good career option?

If you’re someone that naturally wants to help people, then counselling may prove to be a rewarding career option. It’s a career that allows you to help people from all walks of life and will help build your skills as a communicator and as a listener. 

To become a counsellor in Australia, you’ll want to look at taking on some study to help you build up your skill set. You can learn more about some of the microskills that you’ll learn when studying a counselling-related course below. 

What are the microskills in counselling?

counselling concept

  1. Client observation.
  2. Attending behaviour.
  3. Questioning.
  4. Focusing.
  5. Reflection of meaning.
  6. Influencing. 
  7. Confrontation.
There are a range of microskills that can help a counsellor improve the ways that they communicate with clients. Seven microskills that can help you connect with clients on a deeper level are:

1. Client observation.

Client observation can help you learn more about the way your clients view the world and assess the unique ways in which different people communicate. This involves observing clients’ facial expressions, the body language that people display, their tone of voice and the way they frame different situations. 

2. Attending behaviour.

Attending behaviour can help you build a bond with your client. This can involve mirroring your client’s behaviour when initially meeting them, maintaining eye contact (where appropriate) and understanding where silence can be beneficial.  

3. Questioning.

The lines of questioning you take with a client drives the conversation forward, and it’s important to balance the amount of open and closed questions that you ask. Open questions are a terrific way to learn more about your client, while closed questions are an excellent way of re-focusing your client’s attention. 

4. Focusing. 

counselling session

There are a range of areas where you can focus both your attention, and your client’s attention, during a session to explore different problems and their potential solutions. Ivey and Ivey (2003) describe these areas of focus as individual, main theme/problems, other, family, mutuality, interview and cultural/contextual, with each area of focus allowing the counsellor to direct the session as they see fit. 

5. Reflection of meaning. 

Reflection gives the counsellor the ability to show the client what they’ve been talking about, and potentially reveal more in the process. It gives the counsellor the ability to delve into the underlying meanings behind what a client is thinking and feeling to help address the root cause/s of their issues.

6. Influencing.

Want to re-frame a goal/situation in your client’s mind? Influencing can help. Influencing involves providing clients with information about possible courses of action that can help them resolve conflicts/other situations they may be struggling with in their day-to-day lives. 

7. Confrontation.

Confrontation can be useful when you’re looking to remind the client of the sway they can have over a situation – but it requires an understanding of your client. If they are talking about something that they want to achieve, for example, then it can be beneficial to remind them that they can move towards completing that goal in a way that gives them a bit of a (metaphorical) jolt.

Each microskill is valuable on its own, but when all combined together, they can help you become a counsellor that is able to get to the root of clients’ problems rather than attempting to resolve surface-level symptoms.

How to improve your counselling microskills

If you’re looking to improve your counselling microskills, then completing a CHC51015 - Diploma of Counselling may make a lot of sense. This online course will teach you job-ready, practical skills that can help you build the necessary skills to work as a counsellor in either an agency or in a private practice, with the course taking 18-24 months on average. 

The CHC51015 - Diploma of Counselling gives students access to specialist trainers and a Student Support Team, as well as access to MyUpskilled, Upskilled’s fully customised online learning platform.  

Upskilled focuses on practical assessment, and throughout the course, students will take part in a simulated workplace as a trainee counsellor. In this simulated workplace, students will complete a minimum of 12 supervised sessions, working with at least six different clients with various issues. 

This is designed to give students the confidence to take your skills into the workplace, while giving assessors the ability to provide specific feedback that can be applied instantly.

Interested in studying a career in counselling, or just want to improve your ability to communicate and empathise with those around you? Upskilled is here to help. You can learn more about the range of nationally recognised qualifications that Upskilled provides here, and get ready to take the next step towards your dream career – whatever that may be! 
 
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