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The initial counseling procedures

Updated on May 27, 2014

The initial counseling procedures

Before the counseling experience commences, attention must be given to the specifics of organizing the first interview. For example, seating arrangements, intake procedures, opening the first session, structuring the interview, setting goals for the process, termination and referrals are simple procedures that should be considered irrespective of the theoretical approach of the counselor.

The counselor’s primary goal is to establish rapport in order to establish a therapeutic climate which largely depends on the personality of the counselor and the extent to which the core conditions are communicated. Certain basic skills, such as observing nonverbal behaviours and attending behaviours, using open-ended leads, silent listening and summarization will also initiate the initial stages of communication.


The counseling environment

According to several investigators, room size does affect the counseling process.A small room diminishes the number of positive self-referent statements made by the client.Self-disclosure is significantly more intimate in a soft room than in a hard one.Apparently subjects who were submissive and dependent tended to prefer greater distance between chairs, subjects who are dominant, self-assured and independent, on the other hand, preferred the closer seating arrangements.

However, contrary to this evidence, the counselor cannot always control environmental conditions.For example, schools do not provide the counselor with an office and interviews may have to be conducted wherever space is available.

When arranging an effective counseling environment, the privacy and “soundproofness” of the room could be the most significant factor to consider.Interviews could possibly be anxiety-producing and clients should be able to discuss their concerns without any fear that their personal self-disclosures will be overheard.

Counselors do prefer a casual environment conducive to relaxation and comfortable chairs, indirect lighting and warm colours will usually be embraced.Seating should be arranged accordingly so that the client is not threatened by the counselor’s physical proximity.Counselor’s freedom of movement is apparently an important factor as well as it was discovered that several chairs are useful in maintaining spatial distance under their control.Although a desk is generally considered to be a barrier to communication clients with high levels of anxiety may prefer the security of a desk between themselves and the counselor.

The secretary also plays a significant role in the counseling environment.This is usually the first person whom the client greets and sets the tone and should be naturally a warm and friendly individual who relates well to others.The secretary should, however, not assume the role of therapist by becoming emotionally involved in personal client issues.Furthermore, the secretary has access to client records and files and should understand that these are strictly confidential and ensure that the counselor is not interrupted during the session.

Typical Intake procedures

Intake procedures would usually involve clients filling out personal data sheets and often taking a battery of psychological tests. In certain cases an intake interview may be required conducted either by the counselor assigned to the case or by a paraprofessional acting as an intake worker. However, counselors in the public school setting may not follow these formal intake procedures.

The intake interview allows the counselor to obtain a case history on the client which is a systematic collection of facts about the client’s current and past life. It may take many forms depending upon the style and preference of the counselor or therapist and the type of problem situation. For example, a career counselor would focus on factors influencing career choices, a psychoanalytically oriented therapist would need a detailed description of the client’s early childhood experiences and affective development.

Ensuring confidentiality and counselor dependability

All exchanges within the interview should remain private and counselors are obligated not to discuss client relationships unless given written permission to do so. Generally, the counseling relationship may be the only opportunity for the client to freely share those anxieties and feelings that have been harboured in many instances for a lifetime. Trust in the counselor grows once the counselor respects the privacy of the relationship. Counselors should respect the client’s right not to have information divulged to parties outside the relationship unless the client has given permission for this to occur.

This dependability can affect the client’s perception of trust in the relationship and is more than a matter of courtesy for your counselor, for example, to meet scheduled appointments and to be on time. Late or missed appointments could cause clients to wonder whether they have forgotten about them or whether the client is of any importance to them or other similar self-defeating thoughts.

Effective Counseling Skills


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