Counselling Questions Examples (A Complete Guide)

If you’re looking for examples of counselling questions, this blog will be of great use. Here, we will first address what these questions are and what their purpose is. Then, we will describe some of the types of questions asked in counselling with appropriate examples.

What are Common Counselling Questions?

Some of the commonly asked questions in counselling are:

  • Open-ended questions, for example, “How did that make you feel?”
  • Probing questions, for example, “What happened after that?”
  • Clarification questions, for example, “Am I understanding it correctly?”
  • Leading questions, for example, “This week has been more productive, hasn’t it?”
  • Rhetorical questions, for example, “Isn’t it nice to let those feelings out?”

Why do Counsellors Ask Such Questions?

Questioning is an important part of the counselling process. Even though the counselling session is supposed to be a safe space for the client to feel heard, asking questions is imperative for this to happen successfully.

Imagine a therapist who only nods or gives an occasional “hmmm” when you’re talking. It would feel like they’re only listening superficially. While most counsellors are trained to summarise and paraphrase what their clients said to show they’re paying attention, it’s also their job to guide the conversation.

By asking the right questions at the right time, the counsellor takes the dialogue towards topics that are crucial for self-awareness, insight, and processing of emotions. These steps are essential for healing and flourishing to take place.

Types & Examples of Counselling Questions

There are many different types of questions that counsellors tend to ask during their sessions with clients. In this section, we will explore some of the most common questioning styles. We will discuss a few examples for each to explain the relevance of each type of question in the counselling setting.

Open-Ended Questions

An open-ended question cannot be answered in a few words. One has to be descriptive and use at least a full sentence to answer them. Unlike their counterpart (close-ended questions), these don’t make you choose between yes or no. Instead, they create scope for more elaborate expression and self-reflection.

Take for instance the following questions along with their close-ended equivalents.

Open-ended “How do you feel about that?”

Close-ended “Did that make you feel angry?”

Here, with a close-ended question, the client is obliged to answer yes or no. This questioning style discourages them from answering in detail and they might also feel judged or misunderstood.

However, with the open-ended question, there’s more room for self-exploration. Let’s look at a few more examples.

Open-ended “What do you think about that?”

Close-ended “Do you think it’s because of ….?”

Open-ended “How would you describe that experience?”

Close-ended “Was that a triggering experience for you?”

As you can see, there’s nothing really wrong with the close-ended questions, except that they only work if the counsellor guessed the client’s subjective correctly. Instead of taking the risk of being wrong and disrupting rapport, it’s better to ask open-ended questions.

Probing Questions

A probing question, as the name suggests, is the kind that tries to elicit more details about a particular topic. These are quite frequently used in counselling because the therapist needs to know a detailed picture of the client’s experiences in order to be an effective neutral listener.

These questions are useful for seeing the bigger picture and to encourage reluctant clients to reveal more information. They also help in establishing rapport as the client feels heard and that the counsellor is interested to know more.

Examples of probing questions include:

  • “What did you do after that?”
  • “What was going on around you at that moment?”
  • “How did the other person react to your behaviour?”
  • “What do you plan on doing next?”

Clarification Questions

These are useful in avoiding any misunderstandings that might take place due to communication gaps. Sometimes, the client says certain things that do not accurately reflect how they felt or what they wanted to do in the situation they had described.

At other times, the therapist might misinterpret what the client meant to say. In such cases, asking a clarification question is the best way to make sure that both the counsellor and the client are on the same page.

Typically, these are asked right after the counsellor has paraphrased or summarised what the client had said. Examples of clarification questions are:

  • “Did I understand this correctly?”
  • “Am I correct in saying that …?”
  • Correct me if I’m wrong but, is this what you were feeling?”
  • “Am I getting this right?”

Leading Questions

A leading question is always framed in a certain way so that the client elicits the expected response. These are used sparingly in therapy, especially if the counsellor’s approach is a client-centred one. 

The idea is to prompt the client to answer in a particular way so that they themselves realise that this is what needs to be done considering their wellbeing and successful recovery. They are used infrequently because the counsellor never wants to influence the client’s response unless it is a topic related to improving their mental health or consistent with the therapy goals.

A few examples of leading questions used in counselling are:

  • “So are we going to prioritise this therapy homework?”
  • “Will you let me know the next time you feel such extreme emotions?”
  • “Do you think that was the best response you could have picked considering your therapy goals?”
  • “Are we going to reflect on this insight this week?”

Rhetorical Questions

A rhetorical question is only a question because of the way it is framed. Nevertheless, they are called rhetorical because they intend to make a statement rather than to obtain an answer.

In short, they don’t really require an answer and are only stated because the counsellor wants to bring the client’s attention to something important. Like leading questions, these too are used very rarely and only when absolutely needed.

That’s because using them too much disempowers the client and makes them feel inferior to the therapist. The only purpose of rhetorical questions is to get the client thinking and agreeing on something.

Usually, these are used to increase the client’s awareness about their skills, resilience, and coping mechanisms. Listed below are a few examples of such questions:

  • “Didn’t that feel like some much-needed relief?”
  • “Isn’t it nice to be able to think that way about yourself?”
  • “Wasn’t it cathartic to let go of all that pent up anger?”
  • “Don’t you feel proud of yourself for getting through that?”

Conclusion

This blog answered the question, “what are counselling questions examples”. Here, we first addressed what these questions are and what their purpose is. Then, we described some of the types of questions asked in counselling with appropriate examples.

The questions included in this blog were Open-Ended Questions, Probing Questions, Clarification Questions, Leading Questions, and Rhetorical Questions.

FAQs (Counselling Questions Examples)

What questions should I ask a new Counsellor?

You can ask absolutely anything to a counsellor which will make you feel more relaxed and comfortable in your sessions. Nevertheless, here are some useful questions that can help make the counselling process less challenging for you:

  • “What approach do you use in your counselling sessions?”
  • “Have you ever dealt with a client with problems similar to mine?”
  • “Why did you choose to become a counsellor?”
  • “Is it okay if I don’t reveal that right now?”

What are the 5 Counselling skills?

There are many skills and micro-skills involved in counselling so they can’t be limited to a number as small as five. Having said that, here are some essential skills that are required of anyone practising counselling as a profession:

  • Attunement
  • Self-awareness
  • Establishing rapport
  • Active listening
  • The use of appropriate questions
  • Refraining from making judgemental comments or body language
  • Empathy 

What are the 6 methods of counselling?

There are various methods of counselling but the core groups of approaches include the following schools of psychology:

  • Humanistic psychology
  • Existential psychology
  • Behavioural psychology
  • Psychoanalytic approach
  • Cognitive psychology
  • Gestalt psychology

Resources

Was this post helpful?

[Sassy_Social_Share type="standard"]