Basic Counseling Responses


In the book entitled above (Brooks/Cole: Pacific Grove, CA, 1999), the authors, James Hutchinson Haney and Jacqueline Leibsohn present the following summary on pages 114-115.


Opening or Closing:  Beginning or ending a session.  “Where would you like to start today?”


Attending: Eye contact, open posture.


Empathizing: Stating what the client is feeling.  “You feel angry right now.”


Paraphrasing: Stating the essence of what the client is saying. “You have come to counseling to talk about your math anxiety.”


Giving Feedback: Stating what has been observed.  “You frowned when you said that.”


Clarifying: Asking the client to be more concrete. “Tell me more about that.”


Directing: Changing the direction of the session or giving a directive.  “Stay with that thought.”


Questioning: Asking a question.  “What could you do to make this better for you?”


Playing a Hunch: Presenting a possible interpretation. “I have a sense that this is more important to you than you are saying.”


Noting a theme: Presenting an ongoing theme or pattern.  “Your sense of dissatisfaction is a theme in everything you talk about.”


Noting a discrepancy: Presenting two things that do not seem to fit.  “There seems to be a discrepancy between the sadness you feel and the smile on your face.”


Noting a Connection: Presenting two things that do seem to fit. “There seems to be a connection between the people you are associating with and the conflict you are feeling.”


Reframing: Stating an alternative way of viewing. “Another way of looking at this is that you have learned a valuable lesson.”


Allowing silence: Giving the client time to process and continue.


Self-Disclosing: Sharing personal information.  “When that happened to me, I felt betrayed.”


To Acknowledge: Wanting the client to know that the client has been heard. (See Paraphrasing.)


To explore: Wanting the client to expand on what the client has been talking about. (See Questioning.)


To Challenge: Wanting the client to view his/her situation differently. (See noting a discrepancy.)




Using the above as a guide, role-play an interview.  In the interview try to use as many of the above as possible.  Then write up a short critique of your interview indicating which you used and how effective you feel you were in using that particular response to your client.


It would be very helpful to you if you videotaped the session.