Order Now

Importance of Counselling Essay – Attending and Listening in Counseling


Contemporary counselling could be hardly imagined without different communicative and psychological techniques, which made the communication between the both sides less formal and more easier successful.

Present day communication within the counselling area could be hardly without listening and attending the client: “Active listening and responding appropriately are two of the key skills a counsellor or therapist must apply during one-to-one counselling sessions with a client. Being able to communicate effectively is an important requirement, in any type of therapeutic counselling work. Understanding the importance of these skills, and being able to apply them accordingly, is a valuable asset for a career in counselling” (John Rowlinson, 2010). For the first look it does not seem to be difficult: listen attentively to the client and try to understand the core ideas of the represented answer. A number of studies were devoted to business councelling and it showed that some counselling managers could not use or consciously avoid using the skill of active listening and there is a number of various reasons to this. But the main reason counsellor does not use active listening skill is his personal voice, which is so charming and makes impossible to attentive listening, understanding the problem. The majority forget about the simple truth: Everey man could be understood only, when is is attentively listened, as every human has two ears and only one mouth. This simple truth is the directing factor in the counsellor’s work, as before replying he or she need to understand what the problem is. Lets try to understand why listening is so important.

Several Reasons of Avoiding Listening

Listening skills have become more and more important in the contemporary world of business: “There seems to be a growing realization of the importance of solid listening and communication skills in business.

After all, lack of attention and respectful listening can be costly – leading to mistakes, poor service, misaligned goals, wasted time and lack of teamwork” (The PAR Group, 2009). But now we would try to find out, what is preventing to the listening skills. Every of the listed reasons is very important and at the same time they mostly work complexly distracting our mind from active listening.

The fist is loss of attention. The listener’s attention could be switched something unusual or annoying. For example appearance of the speaker, his voice or pronunciation, mimics or gestures.

The second reason is high speed of mental activity. We think 4 times quickly than we speak. That is why, when somebody is speaking, our mind is mostly free and is distracted from the speech. The listener could think about a dinner, plans for evening and work to be completed.

The third is anticipation to others thoughts. Each of us values personal thoughts much more than thoughts of the interlocutor.

The forth reason is selectivity of attention. We used to listen to a number of things without paying direct attention to all information. Trying to listen and understand everything is impossible and our mind ease our lives choosing the most interesting facts at the certain period of time and sometimes the client’s speech is not the core interest for us.

The fifth is the necessity of reply. Very often a necessity of reply is raised, the feeling of immediate answer on the interlocutor’s statement and when it happens, we are not listening to the speaker anymore, our thoughts are occupied on analyzing the statement and building an appropriate reply on it.

All these factors could be a significant barrier to become a successful counsellor and prevent the client’s feeling of relax and attending. As attending and listening skills are very closely connected. The work of contemporary counsellor expects good attending and listening skills.

The Role of Active Listening in Contemporary Counsellor Work

Active listening and its efficiency in the counsellor’s work is very significant. Different areas of counselling suppose that the client would describe the situation or the problem needed assistance to solve. Attentively listening to the interlocutor you make him/her feel that he or she is a significant person for you; in this way you show personal interest , to the situation and identify the significance of problem: “Listening makes the person who is talking feel worthy, appreciated and respected. When we give someone all of our attention the speaker responds positively by interacting on a deeper level, perhaps by disclosing personal information or by becoming more relaxed. When a counsellor pays particular attention to what the client is saying they are encouraging the client to continue talking, as well as ensuring communication remains open and positive” (John Rowlinson, 2010). The speaker, seeing in you interested listener would give more details, and feel free to told you the most significant things assisting you in you counselling work. This won’t happen if the speaker would even have a slight hint on the fact you don’t listen him. Any questions would be senseless, when getting answer on them you do not take into consideration clients replies. That is why active listening needs certain training and is promoted not only within the counselling, but also in management, marketing and other related disciplines. Keep on listening when the client is silent, often it turns out that this period of silence would tell you even more than all words told before.

“Active listening requires more than just listening to what a client says. It involves taking an interest in the other person, making sure they are comfortable about disclosing personal information and providing support and understanding. It also requires that a counsellor also takes into account the body language that is being displayed, and also the tone, speed and pitch of voice” (John Rowlinson, 2010). It shows how closely are connected listening and attending. Paying attention to you clients physical and psychological comfort and “reading” body language counsellor demonstrate his skills of active listener, providing and promoting specific environment needed for client’s openness and trust. Active listening is actively discussed among counselling practitioners and ttrainers, who provide investigation in this sphere. They have defined a number of rules that signify active lister and demonstrate the client the interest and personal involvement in the described situation. Among them are:

  • Facing the client. Sitting straight or leaning forwards to show attentiveness is also useful.
  • Maintaining eye contact shows the speaker you are interested in them and what they have to say.
  • Responding appropriately, by um-hmming, eyebrow raising and supplying other more direct responses, prompts the client to continue talking.
  • Focusing solely on what the client is saying will enable the counsellor to follow the logical flow of the conversation with ease.
  • Only ask questions for clarification. The less a counsellor speaks the more a client should (John Rowlinson, 2010).

It goes without saying that there are some language peculiarities within the active speaking in counselling and one of them deals with periphrasis. It shows the counsellor’s understanding the subject and the matter and keep client aware that the key message is understood appropriately and the counsellor validates the information provided by the client, acknowledging what have been told and promoting further conversation.

Blocks to listening is also very significant part of active listening as it helps to avoid distraction from the matter of conversation. Providing a natural dialogue, with its forming judgements, regarding to the previous information is also a block to active listening, driving counsellor for professional growth and mastering of his personal and professional skills.

The Role of Attending in Contemporary Counsellor Work

What is actually attending in the contemporary counsellor work? It goes without saying that attending is an essential part, which plays a significant role within the working process and communication of counsellor and client: “Attending is a skill that involves the genetic counselor observing client verbal and nonverbal behaviors as one way of understanding what clients are experiencing, and displaying effective nonverbal behaviors to clients during counseling sessions. Egan (1994) elaborates upon these two major aspects of attending, which he refers to as “psychological attending,” and “physical attending,” respectively” (Patricia McCarthy Veach, Bonnie S. LeRoy and Dianne M. Bartels, 38).

Different form of counselling expects different forms of attending that is why physical attending (for example, in genetic counselling) is a widely used practice.

The core aim of attending is devote your whole attention to the client. We should not forget about the fact that counselling is a supportive service within any area of business and attending means respectful attitude and let the client be open and relaxed: “Attending also means a counsellor must pay attention to everything a client says and does. This includes reading the client’s body language and also taking into consideration all the silences and pauses in the conversation. Actively listening not only conveys information, but also encourages the client to continue talking. In a one-to-one counselling relationship this is the supportive service that a counsellor must provide. Failure to do this will mean the client is not being supported fully, and may not feel able to disclose or make progress” (John Rowlinson, 2010). Warm welcoming, creating comfortable atmosphere eye contact and active listening are the parts of attending and they play one of the most significant role in being successful counsellor.

Both psychological and physical aspects of the attending are very significant. Psychological attending deals with sensing experiences: “Psychological attending is sensing experiences, to the extent possible, through the eyes of the client rather than through your own. You intuit the feelings and attitudes that clients have or might have had by being in tune with both verbal and nonverbal messages. Psychological attending involves being sensitive to client feelings and experiences. It consists of both perceiving and processing various client messages. For example, many clients communicate their emotions only non-verbally. Therefore, psychological attending is an important counselor skill for recognizing client feelings” (Patricia McCarthy Veach, Bonnie S. LeRoy and Dianne M. Bartels, 38). The same time we should not also forget about physical attending as it also plays a significant role within the whole process: “Physical attending is the way that you use your body to communicate your understanding to the client.

Good physical attending can alleviate client apprehension” (Patricia McCarthy Veach, Bonnie S. LeRoy and Dianne M. Bartels, 38). Understanding the necessity of attending in the work of counsellor, would be a good advantge for promoting personal career, becoming a successful specialist in different areas that counselling deals with.


In the end I would like to make a stress on the fact that both attending and listening are closely connected with the work of successful counsellor. We all know that counselling supports wide variety of themes and wide variety of industries, but it keeps the same general principles for the whole counselling. Creating a suitable atmosphere, being a good and reliable listener, always means more for the client, who often seeks for friendly supportive hand more than for good professional advice. Everyone of us have met certain difficulties during our life and strong supportive hand of reliable professional near by (especially in the scrutinized circumstances) means a lot for everyone. I think that good attending and listening skills would make a good advantage for becoming a successful counselor, in any sphere. Personally I think that active listening skills could be efficiently used in many other spheres, not only marketing, as well as attending. During all our life, at home and at work, during journeys, we got to communicate with many people. Being a good listener means being a successful communicator and this quality means a lot in the present day world. Active listening would be very useful as for business as well as for home, the results won’t make you wait long, promoting your professional and personal skills.



1. Patricia McCarthy Veach, Bonnie S. LeRoy and Dianne M. Bartels. Facilitating the Genetic Counseling Process. Springer New York. 2003
2. John Rowlinson. Attending Skills. 2010. The Counsellor’s Guide Official Web site . 02.20.2010. <http://www.thecounsellorsguide.co.uk/attending-skills.html>
3. John Rowlinson. Active Listening Skills. 2010.The Counsellor’s Guide Official Web site. 02.20.2010. <http://www.thecounsellorsguide.co.uk/active-listening-skills.html>
4. Swanson, J.L. and Parcover, J.A. Annual Review 1997: Practise and research in career counseling and development. The Career Development Quarterly. Vol. 47. No. 2 1998
5. Swanson, J.L.The process and outcome of career counseling. In W.B. Walsh & S.H. Osipow (Eds.), Handbook of vocational psychology: Theory, research and practice. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. 1995
6. The PAR Group. The Secrets to Listening Well. 2009. The Par Group Official Web site. 02.20.2010. <http://www.thepargroup.com/article_SecretsListenWell.html>
7. Evison, Rose & Horobin, Richard. Co-counselling in J Rowan & W Dryden (eds) Innovative therapy in Britain. Open University Press. Milton Keynes 1988.
8. Murphy, J.J. Solution-focused counseling in middle and high schools. American Counseling Association: Alexandria, VA. 1997