Entering Consultative Relationships

The process of entering consultative and collaborative relationships overlaps significantly with the process of entering a counseling relationship. For example, counselors and consultants are both required to obtain informed consents from their clients (ACA, 2014). Similarly, counselors, collaborators, and consultants will likely rely on counseling Skills to develop the relationship and conduct an initial assessment to ensure that they will be able to meet the needs of the consultee or collaboration team.

the consultation process:

  1. Exploring organizational needs
  2. Contracting
  3. Physically entering the system
  4. Psychologically entering the system

Dougherty, 2014, p. 54.

Counseling Skills

Consultants and collaborators utilize relationship building skills from the onset of the consultation or collaboration process. Trust and empathy are foundational to the processes of contracting with and assessing and diagnosing a given system.

Take some time to review the Counseling Skills pages, paying particular attention to the Invitational Skills page. While you are reviewing the pages, consider how the skills can be adapted to use in consultative or collaborative relationships.

Counseling Skills Exploration Questions

  1. Which of the counseling skills might you use when initiating a consultative or collaborative relationship?
  2. How is consultation different from counseling, given that a consultant may rely heavily on counseling skills?


When entering a consultative or collaborative relationship, it is important to anticipate potential ethical dilemmas, so that you can make an informed choice about working with a given consultee or collaborator. Anticipating ethical dilemmas, such as confidentiality and dual relationships also enables you to outline how these dilemmas will be addressed in the informed consent paperwork. Familiarize yourself with relevant Ethical Codes before developing informed consent paperwork.

Ethics Exploration Questions

  1. What ethical dilemmas might someone consulting with a corporation encounter?
    1. What ethical codes are relevant to the dilemmas that a corporate consultant might encounter?
  2. What steps can you take to anticipate prospective ethical scenarios?

Informed Consent

Consultants are ethically obligated to provide information to consultees before the onset of the consulting relationship. The ACA Code of Ethics states that:

"When providing formal consultation services, counselors have an obligation to review, in writing and verbally, the rights and responsibilities of both counselors and consultees. Counselors use clear and understandable language to inform all parties involved about the purpose of the services to be provided, relevant costs, potential risks and benefits, and the limits of confidentiality"

ACA, 2014, D.2.b.

Informed Consent Exploration Questions

  1. If you were to make a template that you could use for your future consultation practice, what would you include?
  2. How would an informed consent be different for a consultant working in a school compared to a corporate consultant?