When in a helping role it’s important to ask question that will help the helpee talk more and it’s for their benefit and not your agenda. There are two types of questions, closed /open questions. Closed questions this demand a yes or no answer with no chance to elaborate “couldn’t you have resigned” this limits the gathering of information, failing to explore possibilities and get overly simple answers “are you poor at your job”, but sometimes this closed questions can sometimes be useful for quick checking of facts or to show that you have been actively listening carefully to what the helpee is saying: “now if I understood you correctly you meant that…..”.
Open questions, these are prompts to get the helpee to talk about a topic that they had probably touched on and you wanted them to focus a bit more on, they require longer more detailed answers, produce more, better quality information and open up possibilities “tell me what you think about this”. Open questions help the helpee crystallise their thoughts and help you to understand their views, feelings and attitudes. I have been reading more about open and closed questions in helping work so that I can be able to use them correctly in helping work.
There is also clarifying questions they reflect back to what the helpee is saying in other words to clarify understanding: I paraphrase and repeat back key points “if I heard you correctly, you felt very angry about the way you had been treated?” at this point they may summarise and bring new interpretation to my words but this shows that am listening actively and check my understanding correctly what the helpee is saying allowing them to confirm or correct my feedback. This encourages the helpee to elaborate and to define their problem.
I have noticed improvement in a number of my skills during skills practice. However, one skill that requires a lot of work is silence.
When am doing skills practice, I find myself trying not to fill a silence, but sometimes I just can’t seem to help it. I am not sure why that is but it could be the misconception that because counselling is about talking then silences means that I am not helping the client.
In me I know this is not the case and know that silence itself can be very healing. However, there is something in me believes the opposite. I have been doing a lot of reading and from that I am aware that this discomfort with silence is a common experience for new trainees, I have been exploring the issue of silence further in order to try and break down this barrier that am experiencing in terms of sitting with silence.
Silence in counselling has been defined as: “the temporary absence of any overt verbal or preverbal communication between counsellor and…