In order to build a firm foundation in any supportive or caring client-counsellor/therapist relationship strong, clearly defined attending skills must be in evidence. These are skills that require being in attendance in the present, in any situation, and means that a counsellor is giving their full attention, and listening, to the client at all times.
The Meaning of Attending
Attending means being in the company of someone else and giving that person your full attention, to what they are saying or doing. In a one-to-one counselling relationship this is the supportive service that a counsellor must provide. Failure to do this will mean the client is not being supported fully, and may not feel able to disclose or make progress.
Attending also means a counsellor must pay attention to everything a client says and does. This includes reading the client’s body language and also taking into consideration all the silences and pauses in the conversation. Actively listening not only conveys information, but also encourages the client to continue talking.
How to Attend
To begin and maintain attendance a counsellor must first welcome the client warmly. Making him/her feel comfortable, in the counselling environment, will make the client feel more relaxed about disclosing personal information about their emotions, feelings and thoughts. By maintaining eye contact with the client, a counsellor shows they value what the client has to say. Looking at the client, as they speak, also shows the counsellor is respectful.
A counsellor should also be aware of the tone of their voice, during time in the client’s presence. Slowing down speech will make the client feel more relaxed and less rushed. It will convey that the counsellor has adequate time to listen to the client’s problems and concerns. The counsellor’s facial expressions must also convey interest and comprehension.
Tracking, or following the flow of what the client is saying, is a key skill that the counsellor must also be confident demonstrating. Without the ability to do this a counsellor will not be able to provide the level of supportive service a counselling client requires.
By selective attending a counsellor is choosing to pay particular close attention to an element of what is being said by the client. The counsellor may decide to focus on the way the client is speaking – whether they are displaying distress, discomfort, anger etc – or on a particular phrase or sentence.
A counsellor may be listening out for clues to why the client exhibits a particular behaviour pattern or holds limiting beliefs, or any number of other things. It is the counsellor’s job to gather as much information about a client as possible, and to interpret the disclosure so that they can support and encourage the individual through the counselling process.
Controlling your focus can sometimes be difficult. We are all open to outside distractions and can momentarily lose our concentration and focus. Attending requires that a counsellor’s physical and psychological attention is directed at the client for the whole duration of the one-to-one counselling session.
@Steph - have you talked to your GP, about reducing your medication? A quick speedy withdrawal and reduction is probably not the best route especially as you have been accustomed to taking the drugs for a long period of time, so you are bound to suffer side effects. Long term use even over 1-2 years should be done very slowly over six months. Your GP will be able to help you with a reduction plan. I understand that it is such a difficult catch 22 situation to go through, as you want to experience life without the numbing effects of medication, yet without the medication life can be difficult. Chat to your GP, or counsellor, there is always someone there to listen. But don't do it too rapidly - you need to be gentle with yourself, you deserve it. Best of luck, you'll get there. Jess.
Jess - 4-Nov-14 @ 10:14 AM
IN NEED OF ADVICE:
I am a graduate student in mental health counseling. I have decided that the antidepressants I've been on (one type or another) for the last 25 years are blunting me to life. I am in the process of stepping down quickly...the Presiq has been out of my body for weeks now. But I was not expecting the very most awful of the depression to return so quickly...so debilitatingly. reliving the very worst of the issues I spent YEARS in therapy dealing with before knowing myself to be fit to counsel others. (Ramifications of the sex abuse, etc.). I cannot be truly happy or myself being blunted any longer, but am impaired...horribly. The depression has completely and utterly taken over. I guess I am asking if this will end? I won't go back on the drugs I just got off of, but are my only 2 choices being blunted or completely impaired? Or s this simply a horrible, horrible but expected effect of Prestiq withdrawal? Thank you for reading this.
Steph - 2-Nov-14 @ 11:22 PM
I'm in the process of looking for a supervisor, because I'm of on placement next year and I'm unsure as to what to ask/say for in the first e-mail, however I have slight idea but would like more definive idea. As well as present a proffesional manner in the first instance.
Windy - 1-Oct-13 @ 8:57 AM
So much good information.but a question is that,`what if your client recognizes that you are just putting more of your tension on a particular thing which to her is of not importancy at that time'.