Essential Counseling Micro Skills

Essential counseling micro-skills are skills the use of which the counselor makes their goal of helping the client attainable in terms of the approach to therapy. These skills assist in creating an atmosphere of trust and acceptance and facilitate the development of positive changes in the counseling process. In addition, rapport – that is, an empathetic or harmonious relationship – between the counselor and the client is established.

Micro skills are a set of responses – behavioral or verbal – that accelerate the progress in therapy regardless of professionals’ theoretical orientations. The reason nonverbal reactions are crucial is due to good communication inherently being more than the exchange of words – some of the counselor’s way of communicating is through body language. For example, it is important to maintain good eye contact since it is the counselor’s way of conveying an interest in the client’s story and their involvement in the story’s course.

One’s body position is subject to the same purpose: an attentive but relaxed posture makes the client feel listened to yet more at ease. In addition to that, the counselor’s tone of voice plays a big part in the way the client responds to them, so one must learn to use theirs carefully. Finally, physical distance should be considered: people’s comfort zone in regard to personal space may vary, so it is reasonable to set the boundaries beforehand.

Needless to say, ways of verbal communication are just as important. One of these is paraphrasing, which is the counselor’s attempt to accurately understand the meaning behind the client’s communication. It is a reflecting skill, the purpose of which is to verbally express empathy and give feedback, as well as to stimulate exploring the client’s experiences and capture the possibly overlooked elements of their story. In order to develop the skills of paraphrasing using, the counselor should learn to identify keywords and phrases in the client’s concerns and then try to use their own words to express them.

Another tool of effective verbal response is reflecting feelings. It means identifying the client’s feelings in order to help them be cognizant of the emotions experienced by them in relation to a particular issue. It can make one more self-aware and deepen their self-disclosure. To reflect feelings successfully, the counselor has to pay attention not only to the words being said but also to the ways they are being communicated. Sometimes it is advised to abstain from uncovering the client’s feelings because, under particular circumstances, it can lead to a crisis.


Erford, B. T. (2010). Orientation to the counseling profession: Advocacy, ethics, and essential professional foundations. Pearson.

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PsychologyWriting. "Essential Counseling Micro Skills." September 19, 2023.