Counselling Skills Training

Counselling Skills Training

The people were a small multidisciplinary group of managers. This group wanted to learn counselling skills to help them develop their people.

The organisation had a flat structure, so detailed direction and supervision was impossible.

Outline design


Counselling is a helping art and a science. You learn it through personal involvement and practice. There are some basic building blocks (listening, questioning, and suspending judgement) which people must value and understand first. It is impossible to understand or appreciate counselling fully without being counselled. It requires high trust and people learn it best in a trusting and confidential atmosphere.

Design-Day 1

Introduction, welcome, objectives, atmosphere and norms (listening, support, learning from each other, sharing experiences), confidentiality, feedback.

Circle-Name, what you do, something that is going well

Brief about listening, and then go around group “What do you want from the course, any reservations?”

List wants, respond to reservations, show they will get their wants—outline programme.

Review listening briefly; explain it is a crucial part of helping people help themselves (counselling).

Pairs 15-min each way. Listening practice on a subject chosen by the talker. This can be more on what s(he) wants from course, a little worry, his/her situation, a happy memory or what it is like to work in the team. Focus is on the listening. The listener should be there for the talker, get inside the talkers skin, imagine what it might feel like, pay attention, encourage “go on” etc., do not distract.

Review listening practice, what do effective listeners do, and the effect, what is it like to be understood?

What is counselling and how does it work? One form of helping, the counselling model, the importance of accepting and releasing feelings, listening to everything. The usefulness and context of counselling in your work place. The limits of counselling with finite skill and resources

Demonstration of counselling skills with course member

Review of demonstration

Practice sessions in pairs. Client works on real issue, counsellor focuses initially on helping client get a deep understanding of the issue, tries not to rush to solve it.

Review of practice

Review of day

Design-Day 2

Circle-One thing you will contribute today, one thing you want from today.

Further counselling theory. E.g. The importance of deciding to do something as a way of dealing with powerlessness. How do people get stuck and unstuck?

Counselling practice in small group(s). In the counselling practice, each person has time as a client, counsellor and observer. People choose their own subject. They have the option of talking about how to help or develop a member or group of their staff if they wish. If additional theory or technique is required it will be offered. After each session there is a review of the process.

Coaching is different from counselling, as both parties need listening-skills. What do good coaches do? Experience Transfer. Brief practice of coaching skills in pairs.

Pairs. What have we learned so far and how can we apply it to work?

Share results. Deal with any unfinished business.

Closing Circle

Senior manager’s long term evaluation

The course was extremely worthwhile. We developed the listening and counselling skills that are essential for today’s managers. The process also built relationships in our management team.

Further reading

See these links counselling skills and cocounselling.

If you would like help using this idea, or have any comments or questions please contact me. Thanks, Nick