Culley and Bond (2004) have described the foundation skills in counseling. They have grouped these foundation skills around three headings: attending and listening, reflective skills, and probing skills.
1. Attending and listening.
Attending and listening skills refer to active listening, which means listening with purpose and responding in such a way that clients are aware that they have both been heard and understood. (Culley & Bond 2004)
2. Reflective skills.
These skills are concerned with the other person’s frame of reference. For Culley and Bond (2004), reflective skills ‘capture’ what the client is saying and plays it back to them—but in the counselor’s own words. The key skills are restating, paraphrasing, and summarizing; for instance, the counselor may begin with, “Did you mean to say…?” (Culley & Bond 2004)
3. Probing skills.
These skills facilitate going deeper, asking more directed or leading questions (leading in the sense that they move the conversation in a particular direction). Culley and Bond (2004) looked at the different forms that questions can take (and how they can help or inhibit exploration), and the role of making statements. Making statements is seen as generally gentler, less intrusive, and less controlling than asking questions—although that does depend on the statement. Probing tends to increase the helper’s control over both process and content, and as a result, “should be used sparingly and with care, particularly in the early stages of counseling” (Culley & Bond 2004). As Alistair Ross (2003) has commented, counseling skills such as these are important and can be developed through reflection and training. However, no matter how good a person’s skills are, they must be matched by relational qualities. Counselors also need to be strong in their relational qualities. The distinction between good and poor practitioner lies in the belief system of the helper, and how it translates into helping the relationship that he / she puts forward. (Combs & Gonzales 1994)