The rapport of the client and counselor is an important factor in counseling. The counselor must,
- be likable and exhibit interpersonal skills,
- be flexible and able to meet individual needs by providing person-specific attention,
- be available for multiple sessions,
- have something very applied and concrete to offer,
- exhibit a caring attitude.
A counselor must attempt to facilitate a client to solve their own problems, yet demonstrate a genuine concern and compassion for the client's dilemmas.
The counselor must individualize interaction depending on client's personality type. For example, does the client seem more introverted or extroverted, does the client seem to talk more logically or emotionally, does the client seem more cautious or compulsive?
Initially, the counselor can listen and at appropriate times, reflect by restating or rephrasing what the client had expressed. This serves two purposes. First, it allows the client to feel he is being heard. And secondly, it allows for any misunderstandings to be identified and corrected.
When the counselor feels he understands the gist of what the client is communicating, the counselor can proceed with questions. These questions can pertain to feelings, thoughts, beliefs, expectations, past experiences, preferences, or other details relating to the issue.
The client may express a goal they wish to achieve. The counselor and the client may want to explore the ultimate objective behind the goal. They may explore other options in addressing the ultimate objective and the real issues behind the desired goal.
After further discussion, the counselor may choose to explain the benefits of holistic health, developing one's identity, and the concepts of self-responsibility. The counselor must realize that information given to the client may take time for the client to effectively implement into their lives. The counselor and the client should discuss how these concepts relate to the client's issues.
The counselor should encourage the client to ultimately draw their own conclusions and choose the direction they want to take in resolving the issue. The counselor may challenge the client to formulate a behavioral goal to address the ultimate objective. The counselor may need to ask the client how confident they feel in achieving the particular goal. The client will judge the plausibility of particular behavior based on their perceived benefit of the behavior and on their confidence of successfully achieving the behavior. Goals may need to be scaled down, implemented in a gradual manner, or modified altogether to optimize adherence. Creativity should be exercised to make the new behavior as rewarding as possible. Other techniques that may be implemented to increase adherence include: behavioral logs and contracts, peer or family support, friendly competition, and verbal recognition. A future appointment can be agreed upon by the counselor and client to reevaluate the outcome of the behavioral goal. Goals may be modified and other issues may be discussed in these later sessions.
In summary, the ultimate goal as a counselor is to help others understand themselves and their existence, so they both may live to fully experience what it is to be human.