DSST Fundamentals of counseling

These things indicate the level of comfort with the

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These things indicate the level of comfort with the counselor and the topic of discussion. The amount of distance a client places between himself and the counselor is an example on nonverbal communication using the environment . Moving away or toward the counselor and whether or not the movement is sudden or gradual provides much information to the astute counselor. Another behavior to be aware of is whether or not the client initiates the movement or if it is in response to the counselor’s movement. Where a client positions himself in a room (if given a choice) is a use of the environment to communicate. Does the client prefer to be protected by another object such as a desk or table, or does he or she sit in the middle of the room? Perhaps the client even elects to sit beside the counselor indicating a great deal of trust and willingness to share openly. Moving around the room, blocking an exit, or sitting higher than someone else are other examples of using the environment to communicate nonverbally. Nonverbal behavior provides clues to a person’s thoughts, feelings, intentions, etc… The interpretation of the nonverbal behavior depends on the context, each individual, and the history of the relationship. Despite not being an exact science, the awareness and analysis of nonverbal communication is vital to fully understanding a client in a counseling relationship. When a counselor sees and interprets a client’s nonverbal signals correctly, the relationship is enhanced . By responding to the nonverbal behavior the counselor demonstrates perceptiveness of and sensitivity to the client’s feelings. This serves to improve trust and the client naturally feels more apt to open up and talk honestly with this other person who “gets” what they are saying. The counselor’s nonverbal communication has a strong impact on the client’s perception of the relationship. Just as the client provides clues to his or her own thoughts and feelings, so too does the counselor reveal his or her own emotions. Trying to maintain eye contact and sitting with an open posture are two common behaviors that are encouraged by counseling professionals. The nonverbal behaviors considered essential for counselors display are called attending behaviors. Attending behaviors convey to the client that the counselor is listening and is attentive to and interested in what the client is saying. Maintaining eye contact, sitting with an open posture, leaning forward, and sitting in a relaxed position are all important when communicating in a counseling role. An open posture is one where the limbs of the communicator are open and relaxed. Crossed arms or legs generally indicate disinterest or withdrawal and should be avoided when counseling a client. It is important to display a relaxed and comfortable stance and by keeping your arms and legs open or uncrossed, indicates you are prepared to let the other person in.
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