Counseling Skills List

These pages contain a number of skills that are foundational to the counseling process. Various authors have developed different ways of grouping counseling skills. The two most common groupings are the counseling microskills (Ivey, Bradford Ivey, & Zalaquett, 2014), which were categorized by Allen E. Ivey, and the common factors, which were first articulated by Saul Rosenzweig in 1936. Neither of these skill lists are exhaustive, and it is important to remember that not all skills are categorized as microskills or common factors.

Skills that have been categorized as microskills or common factors are labeled. The skills on these pages can be used to build the relationship, increase trust, enhance client awareness, increase the depth of the session, and provide a framework upon which theories and techniques can be built. Counseling skills can be integrated with one another and used across theories, although many of them are grounded in particular counseling theories. Counselors tailor their skill use based on the needs and culture of each client, as well as the theory or theories from which they are counseling. Mastering these counseling skills is a lifelong pursuit, but with time and practice these skills will become second nature. Counselors in training can practice using these skills dynamically, as some counselors get into a rut by overly relying on a few skills.

To see a list and examples of commonly used/basic counseling skills, check out our Counseling Skills cheat Sheet.

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