Egan’s Three-Stage Model Analysis


Many counseling practices have been developed to help people improve their mental and physical needs. Each individual has a specific reason why they seek counseling. These may range from adjustments to chronic illness, love relationship issues, career choices, religious apprehensions, trauma effects, and drug addiction. During the counseling sessions, the counselor has to focus on ways to meet the client’s needs. Egan’s three-stage theory is one of the most effective models that focuses on the counselor-client relationship. This model offers a framework to assist persons in discovering answers to their problems and developing new prospects. Egan’s skilled helper model focuses on three phases: story, possibilities, and possible actions, each step of which has three sub-stages. This paper evaluates the three stages in Egan’s skilled helper model. Moreover, it highlights some counseling skills used in therapy sessions and their importance.


The first thing one needs to do to get any productive work done is primarily considered in this approach. During the first stage of this model, the client informs the counselor of his or her needs. Active listening is essential for any professional helper. It entails focusing on the client’s nonverbal and verbal interactions and connecting them to the client’s tale. Stage one aims to establish a non-threatening therapy relationship with the client and assist them in exploring their condition before focusing on specific issues. Roger’s core conditions are applied by the counselor after acquiring information from the client (Egan, 2018). Congruence, empathy, and unconditional positive regard are primarily observed in the model. When the core conditions are used, clients will learn, grow, and move on.

It is essential to provide a safe environment for clients to tell their stories and see that they are being listened to and understood. If the counselor succeeds with this stage, the client will see the bigger picture, see a point that they wish to get to, and a new perspective. To be successful, the counselor summarizes the client’s information, interpreting and checking their understanding is precise throughout. Moreover, questions such as how one feels may be used. However, this stage has one disadvantage since some clients may be hesitant to be questioned, especially if they are in a challenging position and need to see that they can improve and move forward.


This stage allows clients to think about what they want and how things might be better. The primary purpose of this stage is to give the client optimism after they have set concrete and achievable objectives, which is one of the second stage’s strengths. With support from the professional helper, the client will brainstorm the perfect scenario, which could be achieved by asking open questions about their current life situation. According to Egan (2018), asking such questions sometimes results in the client staring blankly and being unable to respond. This stage also assesses the client’s problem that may interfere with their daily life and cause despair. On the other hand, helpers may find it hard to ask some questions in a meaningful way.

The downside of this stage is that it may be difficult for the client to accept the changes and charges they will need to make to achieve their target, which may cause delays. The counselor may inquire as to whether or not their clients are comfortable with them asking questions. Self-disclosure, understanding trends and themes, pacing, immediacy, and advanced empathy are skills that helpers use to help their clients develop skills and goals (Tamadoni et al., 2017). Divergent logic, forced-field analysis, and a balanced-sheet strategy can all be used to assist the client in deciding between different approaches to dealing with issues and achieving goals at this stage. Clients may use the methods to investigate various alternatives and strategies and comprehend and work around challenges by using facilitating variables. Interchangeable empathy involves understating the problem and explaining ways that the client can overcome the issues by embracing change. The counselor then goes on to the additive empathy method, which focuses on the outcomes of unhealthy actions.

Possible Actions

In this stage, thinkable approaches and actions are considered to help the client move towards their previously set goal in the second stage. Here, the client implements viable procedures and specific measures while thinking about what might help make the change. Clients should set practical and attainable goals, with the help of the counselor’s perspective, and work through problems using problem-solving and decision-making techniques (Eryilmaz & Mutlu, 2017). Setting deadlines and ensuring that the progress of the client is monitored are also essential aspects of this point. Some of the questions asked here may include, what will you achieve? What are some of the actions that can be exercised? And what are the practices you will exercise? According to Eryilmaz & Mutlu (2017), the client should assess their resource awareness and understand how behavior is improved and sustained. Moreover, individuals should ensure that they transform challenges into opportunities by promoting learning and skills.

This model is mainly used by counselors who cooperate and focus on their choices. Helpers should ensure that the client’s well-being is the priority throughout the phases of the practice. It is wise for helpers to have a good relationship with their clients to help speed up the progress. The model shows that it is also easy for the helper to identify an area that requires attention when working with a cooperative client. Koh and Cheong (2021) specify that the counselor motivates individuals to focus on what is pertinent, empathetic, and non-judgmental. Egan’s model is also vital since it ensures that the client can make their decisions regarding their future with support from an empathetic helper.

Counseling Skills Used in a Therapy Session

According to the American Counseling Association, professional therapy is the practice of forming relationships with individuals to help them achieve mental health and wellbeing, career goals, and education. Counseling skills are both behavioral and complex qualities that a psychologist employs to better assist a client in resolving personal problems and overcoming challenges that keep them from leading a happier life (Bayne & Hays, 2017). A counselor may benefit from a variety of counseling skills. Active listening, probing, and observation skills are among them.

Active Listening

During one-on-one therapy sessions with a client, active listening is a critical skill for any counselor or therapist. In any psychological therapy job, the ability to interact effectively is also a must. Throughout the one-on-one therapy session, the therapist must give the client his or her absolute and undivided attention (RodrĂ­guez et al., 2018). Furthermore, active listening requires that a counselor consider the body language displayed, the tone, pitch, and tone of the voice.

Importance of Listening

Having excellent communication skills involves the ability to listen and understand what the speaker is insinuating. Good listening skills make the person speaking feel important, respected, and valued. When a client is given undivided attention, the helper will respond favorably by engaging in more in-depth interactions, perhaps sharing personal details, or being more relaxed. When a therapist pays complete attention to what the client is doing, it helps the client keep communicating and ensures open and constructive contact.


During counseling sessions, questions can help open new areas for discussion—questioning assists in pinpointing a problem and assist in clarifying information that may seem hard at first. Correspondingly, questions that encourage clients to think about or recall knowledge will help them on their path of self-discovery (Nor, 2020). Therapists should be aware of the various methods of interviewing strategies and how to apply them effectively. There are two main types of questions, open and closed. Available questions offer an opportunity for the helper to gather data about the client and their concerns. Moreover, they encourage clients to express themselves and present their ideas. For example, why do you think about this? Could you tell me how you are feeling today? In contrast to that, closed questions can be answered with little response, and they help the therapist to focus on the client. For example, are you employed? Are you comfortable with your job?

Observation Skills

By observing a client, a counselor can gauge the effects his words have on the client. For example, when a client visits a therapist’s office, the counselor can tell how the client feels from the way he walks in, takes a seat, and says hello to the helper. If a patient is offended by the session, they may decide to keep their eyes lowered (Ăśzar-Ă–zçetin & Hiçdurmaz, 2017). A counselor can also observe the effectiveness of their sessions by carefully following the client’s facial expression and eye contact.


If a counselor listens carefully to the clients, he will notice certain words are repeated. These keywords are vital since they enable the therapist to figure out what the client is experiencing. Correspondingly, through verbal underlining through vocal emphasis, counselors can determine essential to the clients they counsel. Additionally, it is important since nonverbal behavior can tell if a client is uncomfortable with the session or not.


In conclusion, clients have the right to choose the type of counseling they want when seeking counseling services. During these sessions, the counselor listens and questions the client to establish possible issues and their possible solutions. Egan’s three-stage is the most common model that is used by counselors today. The model has three stages, story, possibilities, and possible actions. In the first stage, the clients narrate his story. Furthermore, Roger’s core conditions are essential in stage one, including congruence, empathy, and unconditional positive regard. The second stage helps the client consider what they want and think about how things could be improved. The setting aims at assisting the client in setting realistic and achievable goals. In the third stage, possible strategies and actions are considered to help the client move forward. There are three counseling skills used in therapy sessions: active listening, questioning, and observation skills. Thus, people can evaluate the three stages in Egan’s skilled helper model to learn about the various aspects involved and how it helps individuals.


Bayne, H. B., & Hays, D. G. (2017). Examining conditions for empathy in counseling: An exploratory model. The Journal of Humanistic Counseling, 56(1), 32-52.

Egan, G. (2018). Student workbook exercises for Egan’s the skilled helper (10th ed.). Brooks/Cole.

Eryilmaz, A., & Mutlu, T. (2017). Developing the four-stage supervision model for counselor trainees. Educational Sciences: Theory and Practice, 17(2), 597-629.

Koh, A., & Cheong, M. (2021). A qualitative evaluation of SMU’s peer helpers programme. International Journal of Evidence-Based Coaching and Mentoring, 19(1), 152-170.

Nor, M. Z. M. (2020). Counselling: What and how. In Counseling and Therapy. IntechOpen.

RodrĂ­guez, J. R., LĂłpez, A. B., Escolano, A. F., GarcĂ­a-Grau, E., GarcĂ­a, C. S., Fort, G. B., & Pros, M. A. (2018). Peer counselling versus role-playing: Two training methods of therapeutic skills in clinical psychology. Psicothema, 30(1), 21-26.

Tamadoni, M., Janbozorgi, M., Azarbaijani, M., Ali, G., & Tabatabaei, S. K. R. (2017). Macro ergonomics: An approach to improve safety efficiency and the quality of working life. Bioscience Biotechnology Research Communications, 2, 150-160.

Üzar-Özçetin, Y. S., & Hiçdurmaz, D. (2017). Effects of structured group counseling on anger management skills of nursing students. Journal of Nursing Education, 56(3), 174-181.

Cite this paper

Select style


PsychologyWriting. (2022, June 30). Egan's Three-Stage Model Analysis. Retrieved from


PsychologyWriting. (2022, June 30). Egan's Three-Stage Model Analysis.

Work Cited

"Egan's Three-Stage Model Analysis." PsychologyWriting, 30 June 2022,


PsychologyWriting. (2022) 'Egan's Three-Stage Model Analysis'. 30 June.


PsychologyWriting. 2022. "Egan's Three-Stage Model Analysis." June 30, 2022.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Egan's Three-Stage Model Analysis." June 30, 2022.


PsychologyWriting. "Egan's Three-Stage Model Analysis." June 30, 2022.