Counselling Microskills: Client Observation
By accurately observing non-verbal behaviour, a counsellor can gauge the affect her/his words and actions have upon the client. Skilled client observation also allows the counsellor to identify discrepancies or incongruities in the client’s or their own communication.
When is it used?
Observation is a skill that is utilised throughout the entire counselling interview.
Observing body language, tone of voice and facial expressions.
For example, when a client enters into the office of the counsellor, the counsellor can gain some indication of how the client is feeling about the session (are they reticent, comfortable, awkward?) by the way the client walks in, takes their seat, and greets the counsellor.
If a client is resentful about the counselling session taking place, they may keep their eyes lowered, seem dismissive of the counsellor and sit in a closed position, not encouraging communication.
A counsellor can also gauge the effectiveness of their words by carefully observing the facial expression and eye contact of a client. If a counsellor asks a question that the client may find embarrassing to answer, the client may lower their eyes, or their head, or look away. This will tell the counsellor that the client might be uncomfortable with that statement or question.