DSST Fundamentals of counseling

A closed question is one where the client can answer

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  A closed question is one where the client can answer yes or no or provide a specific fact. Closed questions are useful for gathering facts: Are you depressed? When did the anxiety start? Did you call the treatment center? A client can answer the question without providing any insightful information. When communicating verbally, a counselor usually asks open-ended questions in order to get a full and complete response .
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Open-ended questions allow the client to elaborate further on the topic of discussion rather than supplying a yes or no answer. How are you feeling about…? What types of things trigger your anxiety? These questions require the person to think and give the client responsibility for determining which direction the conversation heads. Open-ended questions are particularly useful for starting an interview, helping a client elaborate further, eliciting specific examples, and focusing the client’s attention on a certain topic. An effective counselor uses silence to help a client reflect on his or her true feelings. Rather than filling in the gaps when a lull in the conversation occurs, an intuitive counselor uses the silence as an opportunity for client to think introspectively and explore ideas without actually verbalizing them. The client needs to be responsible for the direction of the interview so it is imperative for the counselor to listen passively and allow the client to take the lead. Active listening is the ability to convey to another person that you clearly understand what is being said and you are truly interested in the message. Active listening is much more difficult than the listening we engage in during social conversations. Active listening requires being present and attentive to the whole message (verbal and nonverbal) and then providing the speaker clues that you “got” what he or she was saying. Paraphrasing is the component of active listening that requires the listener (receiver) to restate the message sent by the sender. When you paraphrase a message you convey you are trying to understand, you summarize what it is that you actually heard, and check to make sure your perception is in fact accurate. Taking the time to paraphrase eliminates misunderstandings and convinces the client that you are genuinely interested in discovering what he or she is thinking or feeling. Reflection is the part of active listening that requires the counselor to attend to how the message was said. Reflection requires going beyond what was said and listening to how it was said and then restating the information as an emotion. Example: A client says, “I got accepted into the day treatment program.” The counselor reflects back, “You must be so excited, I’m so pleased all your hard work and dedication are paying off.” The counselor’s response indicates that he or she understands the emotional state of the client and communicates unconditional acceptance of the client.
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