Tackling life’s ups and downs is just part of everyday life but sometimes we need a little extra support during troubling times and need to turn to our friends or counsellors to talk through the problems that are bothering us.
Whether you are a naturally caring person that people turn to for comfort, or you’re interested in a career as a counsellor, you’ll know the benefits of being able to offer some sympathy and guidance to your clients or friends in need. Working in social care is a rewarding career that gives you the chance to help someone improve their life! If you’re interested in learning more, find out how a career in caring will help you too
These days we’re fortunate that the stigma of seeking help via counselling is long gone and more people opt to turn to therapy to help them through any troubling issues they are experiencing.
Did you know that 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience at least one diagnosable mental health problem at some point in their lifetime, so you can rest assured that you’re not alone if things have become a bit difficult.
Some mental health issues are temporary, for example some people will suffer from anxiety and depression after the loss of a job or breakdown of a relationship, and some mental illness will last a lot longer, even over a lifetime.
Seeking the correct help is important to help fully support you, your friends or your client’s well-being.
If you’re supporting someone going through a tough time, it’s important to know the 5 stages of grief and how you can work through them
When someone turns to you for help, advice and comfort, it might be useful to employ some of the soft skills that counselling techniques are based on.
The first step in your social care journey could be learning the basic skills from counselling techniques. These skills will help you to connect on a deeper level with the person you are supporting and encourage them to open up to you; this will then enable you to help them more effectively in the long-run.
These techniques include active listening, body language, your tone of voice, open ended questions, paraphrasing and summarizing. Let’s have a closer look at what each of these vital skills are and how you can use them effectively the next time someone turns to you for a comforting chat.
- Active listening means you’ll be fully concentrating on what’s being said rather than just passively listening. Active listening will involve maintaining eye contact with the person speaking, nodding, smiling, agreeing and encouraging them to continue. By providing this feedback, your friend or client will usually feel more at ease and be able to communicate with you more openly and honestly, knowing they have your full attention.
- Body language is the conscious and unconscious movements we make which help us to communicate the thoughts and feelings we are trying to express (or even hide). By reading someone’s body language (and being aware of your own) you’ll be able to understand how the person really feels about what he or she is saying.
- Tone of voice makes up for about 38% of what we’re communicating, with body language making up the other 55% (meaning only 7% of what we say overall is verbal!). Your tone of voice involves the volume you use, the emotion projected and the emphasis you place on the words you choose. Being aware of your tone of voice (and that of your clients) will help you delve into the thoughts and feelings they are trying to describe and allow you to deliver the best response.
- Open ended questions cannot be answered with a “yes” or “no” answer or one or two-word responses. These types of questions get your client to really open up and describe the topic that you’re both discussing. Some typical open-ended questions are: “tell me how you feel about that?”, “why is that important to you?”, “what do you think about …”
- By paraphrasing what your client has just said, you’ll be able to choose the most important details of the discussion, rather than just simply repeating what was said. In other words, you’ll be taking what someone has said and phrasing it in a simpler way. This helps to reassure your client that you have fully understood what has just been said and allow them to correct you if you haven’t.
- Summarizing means you’ll be repeating what’s been said but putting it into your own words. For example, your client may say “I’m having a really tough time in my job” and you may say “things feel really difficult for you at work at the moment”. This can be useful for helping your client find the words they’re looking for.
Communication is an essential part of a social worker’s role, you’ll need to communicate effectively with your clients to gain information, give them information in return and make decisions regarding their well-being. Being able to remain in a positive ‘can-do’ attitude is important for your clients and important for your own well-being too. Here are some life coaching techniques you can bring to your everyday
If you’re a natural care-giver and think a career in counselling might be right for you, read this next.
Your journey to working in social care