7 Basic Counselling Microskills (Expert Guide)

In this article, we will look at the top 7 basic counselling microskills in detail. This article explores the microskills that help the counselor build a successful working alliance with their client.

Top 7 Basic Counselling Microskills 

Here are the top 7 basic counselling microskills:

  • Attending Behaviour
  • Focusing
  • Questioning
  • Confronting
  • Reflection
  • Observation
  • Influencing

Skill #1: Attending Behaviour 

Basic attending skills explain a collection of verbal and nonverbal behaviours that facilitate effective listening and communication. These skills enable us to remain connected to our clients’ experiences and show them that we are more interested in them than we are in ourselves. You can communicate with your clients and effectively listen to them if you have good attending and listening skills. Empathy, or the capacity to be open to and make sense of the world of another human being, requires these skills.

  • Vocal quality: The tone and inflections of your voice are termed vocal quality not the substance of what you say . In certain cases, pacing would be reasonable and efficient; this is referred to as matching the client’s vocal qualities. You can also guide the client with your vocal abilities.
  • Body language: Leaning subtly toward the client, keeping a comfortable yet attentive stance, mirroring, and other positive body language approaches are common. Trying to match the client’s facial expressions and bodily posture is known as mirroring.
  • Visual eye contact: Direct eye contact is often perceived as being too aggressive in Asian and Native American societies. Most clients would be comfy with more eye contact when you’re speaking and less eye contact whenever they’re talking—but this may differ depending on the culture.
  • Verbal tracking: This attending skill requires using words to show the client that you’re paying attention to whatever he or she says. It entails rephrasing or summarising the client’s expressed thoughts.

 Skill #2: Focusing

The first one is individual focus, in which the counsellor starts the therapy session by focusing solely on the client’s personal characteristics, such as demographics, background, and the purpose for seeking counselling. To actually bring absolute attention on the client, the counsellor will frequently use the client’s name.

The major theme, or problem focus, comes second. The explanation why the client requested counselling is taken in to account. Other areas of focus, since no issue is completely isolated, the client will frequently mention acquaintances, employers, extended family members, and other people who are somehow related to the person seeking counselling.

Skill #3: Questioning

During the counselling session, asking questions will help to open up new topics for discussion. They will help to detect a problem and to explain details that might be vague to the counsellor initially. Clients’ journeys of self-exploration can be aided by questions that encourage them to consider or remember details.

Counselors should be familiar with the various forms of questioning techniques, as well as when and how to use them and what to expect as an outcome. It’s also crucial to be mindful of and wary of excessive questioning. By asking too many questions, the counsellor gives the message to the client that he or she is in charge, and it can also create a condition in which the client believes the counsellor knows everything.

Remember the nature of the client, their current relationship with the counsellor, and the problem(s) at hand when assessing successful questioning strategies. In counselling, there are two primary types of questions: (1) open and (2) closed.

Open questions: These are the types of questions that cannot be answered in just a few words; they urge the client to talk and allow the counsellor to learn more about the client and their issues.

For Example

  • What makes you think like that?
  • How did you consider this?

Closed questions: Closed questions are those that can only be answered with a single word (typically “yes” or “no”). They can assist the counsellor in focusing the client’s attention or gathering highly particular information. Such inquiries begin with the words “is,” “are,” or “do.”

For Example

  • Do you live alone?
  • Are you satisfied with your job?

Here are a few tips for questioning clients:

  • What, how, or could are common starting words for open questions. 
  • They assist the client in exploring topics and having more in-depth conversations. 
  • Closed questions often start with the words do, is, or are, and lead to targeted, sometimes shorter answers. 
  • While questions can help you learn more about a client’s narrative or problem, be cautious. 
  • If you question the client too much, the client can become

defensive. You don’t want to make it seem like an interrogation.

Skill #4: Confrontation

Confrontation, in general, refers to confronting another person over a discrepancy in opinion or disagreement. Confrontation as a counselling microskill, on the other hand, is an effort by the counsellor to gently draw the client’s attention to what they may have missed or overlooked.

In counselling, there are 3 stages to confronting the client. The first stage entails identifying messages that are inconsistent or incongruent (expressed by the client). The counsellor’s second task is to raise awareness of the inconsistencies and assist the client in working through them. Finally, phase three entails assessing the intervention’s efficacy as shown by the client’s progress.

Skill #5: Reflection

The firmly held beliefs and values that underpin life experiences are referred to as “reflection of meaning.” Counselors who use exploration of meaning in their practise will find that their clients delve deeper into facets of their own personal experiences.

As a result, the microskill of meaning reflection assists clients in exploring their beliefs and life goals by discovering the deeper facets of their experiences.

  • Emotions and thoughts must be drawn out and acknowledged from beneath the client’s worries and issues. 
  • The aim is to recognise and convey the intrinsic emotional experience to the client.
  • Ability to understand a client’s deeper needs and desires requires an exploration of emotion. 
  • Trying to clarify emotion helps clients make better decisions and take action. 
  • Clients sometimes use the terms “confused” or “frustrated” and one of the most main objectives is to explain conflicting emotions.

Skill #6: Observation

The counsellor may detect contradictions or inconsistencies in the client’s or their own correspondence by skilled client observation. Observation is a skill that is used in the counselling process. Body language, vocal tone, and facial expressions are all things to look out for.

Skill #7: Influencing

Influencing a client’s decision to think or act in a certain way might be possible. Influencing is commonly used when a client is considering new ways of thinking or acting. A youngster, for instance, has recently begun using drugs. The counsellor considers the long and short-term implications of his or her decisions.

Further Learning

Useful Counselling Micro-Skills

BetterHelp: A Better Alternative

Those who are seeking therapy online may also be interested in BetterHelp. BetterHelp offers plenty of formats of therapy, ranging from live chats, live audio sessions and live video sessions. In addition, unlimited messaging through texting, audio messages and even video messages are available here.

BetterHelp also offers couples therapy and therapy for teenagers in its platform. Furthermore, group sessions can also be found in this platform, covering more than twenty different topics related to mental health and mental illness. The pricing of BetterHelp is also pretty cost-effective, especially considering the fact that the platform offers financial aid to most users.


In this article, we looked at the top 7 basic counselling microskills in detail. This article explored the microskills that help the counselor build a successful working alliance with their client.

Frequently Asked Questions: Basic Counselling Microskills

What are the Microskills of counseling?

Microskills are the fundamental skills required to effectively assist the procedure of counselling with a professional counsellor, and this contact may facilitate or impede the client from seeking counselling in the future or from returning for additional counselling sessions.

What is immediacy in counseling?

Immediacy refers to the counsellor’s or helper’s capacity to use the current circumstances to push the client to consider what is going on in their connection. It can feel risky and uncomfortable at times.

What are basic attending skills?

In Basic Attending Skills: Foundations of Empathic Relationships and Problem Solving: Students acquire and master the core skills of listening, including attending behaviour, questioning, encouragers, paraphrasing, reflection on emotions, and summarising, through a simple, step-by-step procedure.

What is the first step in counseling?

Step 1: Establishing The Relationship: The first step entails establishing a relationship with clients and concentrates on including them in discussions about topics that directly impact them. Because the client is interpreting the counselor’s verbal and nonverbal communications and forming judgments about the counsellor and the counselling environment, the initial session is crucial.

How do you show attending skills?

Here is a list of tips to help in showing attending skills:

Make a point of addressing the speaker by name.
Use motivating phrases like “Uh huh,” “Go ahead,” and “I’m listening.”
Slightly lean toward the speaker.
Maintain eye contact that is acceptable.
Show curiosity and concern in your facial expressions.
To express agreement, nod your head.
Avoid distractions as much as possible.

What is attending behavior in counseling?

Any action taken by a person while carefully listening to and watching a speaker, such as making eye contact and adopting an open, engaged posture. Active listening and supportive attending behaviours are deemed to be the main pillars of a therapist’s or counselor’s overall capacity.

What is the difference between directive and nondirective counseling?

When the therapist directs the therapeutic process, it is known as directive therapy. When you provide cognitive behavioural therapy, for instance, you are providing the client guidance for dealing with the problem as well as assisting them in practising particular strategies. On the other hand, the client takes the lead in non-directive counselling.

What are the four components of attending behavior?

Attending behavior has four dimensions

3 Non-verbal 
Visual eye contact
Body language.

1 Verbal
Verbal Tracking

What is the purpose of attending Behaviour in Counselling?

Attending behaviour is a counselling microskill that encourages clients to speak by indicating that the counsellor is paying attention to what they’re saying. When does it come into play? During the whole therapy session. This is particularly true in the early stages of developing rapport.


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