Ensuring that you understand your clients, and that your clients feel understood by you is foundational to the counseling relationship. The skills on this page are particularly useful for building the counseling relationship by helping your clients to know that you are hearing and understanding what they are saying.
Summarizing, paraphrasing, and reflecting are probably the three most important & most commonly used microskills. These skills can be used by counselors to demonstrate their empathy to clients, make the counseling session go "deeper", & increase clients' awareness of their emotions, cognitions, & behaviors. All three methods involve repeating back, in your own words, what the client has said. Counselors often go beyond simple repetition and include their own interpretations of the client's emotions or existential meaning to increase the "depth" of the session. These techniques can often be used in place of questions, as, like questions, they prompt the client to reflect or talk more. However, these techniques often have additional benefits of questions as they also demonstrate that the counselor empathizes with and understands each client. Summaries, paraphrases, and reflections can be described as: