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Helping Skills

Diposting oleh belajarpsikologi on 21 November 2010
The helping relationship is not a special relationship reserved for trained consultants and counsellors. Hopson (1984) argues, for example, that counselling skills are not something separate from other human activities. The behaviours that are bundled together and identified as counselling skills are scattered liberally about us in the community. They include many of the basic interpersonal skills that have already been considered in some detail in earlier chapters (for example, listening). Listed below are some additional skills that are important helping skills. 
Empathy is a key skill that builds upon the basic skills discussed elsewhere in this book. It involves letting clients know that they have been understood from within their frame of reference, that the helper can see the world as they see it while remaining separate from it. As noted in Chapters 2 and 3, this involves the helper attending, observing and listening to both verbal and nonverbal messages. The client’s non-verbal behaviour can be a rich source of data, especially about feelings. However, although these listening skills facilitate understanding, empathy is only achieved when this understanding is communicated to the client.
This communication can be achieved by the helper responding to what has been said, reflecting back to the client what it is that the helper believes the client is thinking and feeling, and then attending carefully to the cues given off by the client, which either confirm or deny the accuracy of these responses. 
Empathy is a core relationship-building skill. Egan suggests that the client who feels he has been understood feels encouraged to move on and to explore his problems in greater depth. It can be a useful exercise to observe the extent to which people show empathy when dealing with others. It is all too easy to deny other people’s feelings, to belittle their problem. Note how often others take the time to engage in empathic listening
and try to assess what this does to the quality of the relationship.
And then look to yourself. Without changing the way you normally behave, note how often you communicate empathic understanding. Then consciously change your behaviour. Work at increasing the number of times you show empathy and observe the effect it has. People tend to open up when they feel understood, they become less defensive and not only reveal more of themselves to others but, in the process, often find out more about themselves. The very process of talking openly helps them to reappraise their position. Blake and Mouton (1983), for example, suggest that a person’s ability to deal with a problem might be affected by the exclusion of intense emotional reactions from conscious awareness. 
Talking with an empathic listener may help the client get in touch with and work through these repressed reactions, thus enabling him to take a more objective view of his problem. 


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