Generally speaking the term confrontation means challenging another person over a discrepancy or disagreement. However, confrontation as a counselling skill is an attempt by the counsellor to gently bring about awareness in the client of something that they may have overlooked or avoided.

There are three steps to confrontation in counselling. The first step involves the identification of mixed or incongruent messages (expressed through the client’s words or non-verbals). The second step requires the counsellor to bring about awareness of these incongruities and assist the client to work through these. Finally, step three involves evaluating the effectiveness of the intervention evidenced by the client’s change and growth.

During the counselling process there are four (4) discrepancies which the client could display. The discrepancy can be between:

  1. Thoughts and feelings
  2. Thoughts and actions
  3. Feelings and actions or
  4. A combination of thoughts, feelings and actions.

Having identified a discrepancy, the counsellor highlights this to the client, using a confrontation statements.


Confrontation is a skill that can assist clients to increase their self-awareness. It can be used to highlight discrepancies that clients have previously been unaware of.

When is it Used?

Confrontation is often used when the counsellor observes mixed messages or incongruities in the client’s words, behaviours, feelings or thoughts. Confrontation should only be used after rapport has been developed between client and counsellor.


“You say you would like to do further study but you haven’t contacted the training institution.”

“Your words say you would like to spend more time with your sister, but your actions say that it’s not a priority for you.”