Basics of counselling or psychotherapy

• Listening and empathy are the beginning of counselling.

• Good communication is the basis of counselling.

• The therapist must really care about the patient.

• Always be aware of the family context.

• It is important for therapists to handle and monitor their own feelings and emotions.

• Maintain eye contact.

• The therapist must tolerate and be comfortable with what the patient says.

• Confidentiality is essential.

• Counselling is easier if there is a good rapport with the patient, especially if a long-standing relationship exists.

• Counselling is difficult if a social relationship is present.

• Don't say to the patient, 'I'm counselling you' or 'I'm giving you psychotherapy'—make it a natural communication process.

• The therapist must be versatile and adapt a counselling style to the clinical occasion.

• Characteristics of the effective counsellor have been demonstrated to be genuineness, nonpossessive warmth for the patient, and accurate and empathic understanding.

Some useful interviewing skills used in counselling are summarised in Table 5.1 .

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