Immediacy in counselling (The meaning)

In this brief blog, we will be talking about immediacy in counselling, the importance of immediacy in counselling, services that serve immediacy in counselling, and more information about immediacy in counselling.

What is Immediacy in Counselling?

The concept of immediacy in counselling may be defined as ‘the key skill of focusing attention on the here/now relationship of the counsellor and client with helpful timing, in order to challenge defensiveness and/or heighten awareness’. The skill of Immediacy in counselling can be very beneficial to both the client and the counsellor.

The meaning of immediacy in counselling is the being in the now kind of situation where the counsellor analyzes the reality of the counselling relationship.

This kind of skill is considered as risky and unfamiliar to both the client and the counsellor. 

In this case, this kind of skill is more centred in the present moment. This kind of skill is very crucial in the counselling relationship.

When you use this kind of skill completely, you may feel the following:
• Expressing how you as the counsellor or helper are feeling
• Sharing a gut feeling or sense of what the client or helpee may be feeling in the present moment and possibly associating this with the client’s concern
• Inviting the client or helpee to discover what is going on between you

The following are statements that can indicate this kind of skill in counselling:

  •  I notice that you haven’t maintained eye contact with me all session which is leaving me feeling rather detached from you 
  • It feels as if you want to stop me from getting too intimate… I was wondering if that’s how this kind of relationship feels to you?

When to use immediacy in counselling sessions?

The following are situations where you can use this kind of skill in a counselling session:

1. To address any observable or non-observable pattern of association may be being repeated in the counselling relationship in order to help the client understand it better or cope with it.

The following are the statements that indicate this kind of situation in a counselling session:

  • I notice that you are reacting very defensively to what I am saying even though I feel very open-minded of what you are telling me right now. I am currently wondering whether this is because …… input the association with the client’s current concern
  • I am aware that you have said that you never get angry easily, yet I am feeling that you are very angry with me even though your voice is silent when you speak to me.

2. To handle complications in the current concern

  • Lack of trust in the relationship

For instance, the client told the counsellor when the client first came here that he or she has never trusted anyone in his or her life.

The counsellor may state that he or she wonders whether this is impacting how the client feels towards the counsellor because the counsellor is feeling that the client is not finding it easy to trust the counsellor.

  • Boundary issues in counselling

For instance, the counsellor is finding it difficult to focus on what the client is saying because the counsellor has just realised that he or she knows the person the client is talking about … the counsellor is wondering whether the client has observed the response and this is somehow impacting his or her ability to talk freely.

  • A concern of an apparent difference that might be impacting the counselling relationship

For instance, the counsellor is aware that the client is a black female and the counsellor is a white male and the counsellor wonders how easy the client is finding it to tell him about her experience of racial stigmatization at work.

The counsellor can ask if they can talk directly about this.

You can learn more about how counsellors practice this kind of skill by buying this book on this website.

Guidelines for using immediacy in counselling as the counsellor or helper

The following are the guidelines for using this skill in counselling:

• Be direct, clear and candid about your own internal reaction
• Be vulnerable to client or helpee, being aware of what is complicated and select your
words carefully
• Be very aware of timing and the possible effect of this intervention
• Check out who this kind of skill is for such as “Why am I saying this to my client? Will it help my client in his or her counselling experience?”
• Be ready to take the risk and comply with whatever emerges

Immediacy in counselling in different counselling training levels

1. Level 2 CSK-L2

In this kind of level, the trainee counsellors will have to know when the client’s concerns will become apparent in the counselling relationship and use this kind of skill to apprehend this kind of impact

2. Level 3 CST-L3

The trainee counsellors in this kind of counselling course will become observant of the current concerns that might be affecting the counselling relationship and this kind of skill is needed to alleviate this concern.

3. Level 4 TC-L4

Trainee counsellors who are this kind of level in training will need to address the observable and non-observable concerns in the counselling relationship.

This kind of skill can be used when the counsellor needs to self-disclose on his or her opinions of the current concerns of the client to let the client know that the counsellor empathizes with his or her opinion and emotion towards the concern.

You can learn more about how to emphasize empathy with your client by learning some skills in this book that can be bought on this website.

The trainee counsellor will need to do some role-play to address the present concern of the client:

  • For instance, the counsellor addresses an observable difference with a client during the session and states this current concern because it may be a challenge to the relationship such as class, age, colour, marital status, background, values.

Having a role-play exercise where there is a need to address the client’s complication:

  • For instance, Having complied with a counselling fee at the start of the session the client keeps explicating hints that he or she is really hard up and can’t really afford the counselling sessions. A counsellor might start feeling confused and irritated by the client’s behaviour.

You should let trainee counsellors work in pairs where they can assign roles of being the counsellor or the client. The trainees should learn how to say the following:

  • When you say that or do that or look …… I feel or sense or thinking that or about………

When the discussion comes after this exercise, you should ask the trainee counsellors on how they think about the exercise and how personal reactions can affect the client’s present concern.

You can learn more about how communication is done in counselling by buying this book on this website.

Advantages of immediacy in counselling

This kind of skill is very important in counselling since the counsellor will become aware of the concerns and responses he or she is showing to the client.

For instance, there might be the response that the client may become aware of a memory that he or she was worried about becoming punishable by father which can be manifested as cowering and shivering on the chair.

This kind of skill is very useful in identifying the discrepancies that are evident in the client.

For instance, the client might say that they are stress-free but he or she is talking very rapidly which makes you question his or her genuineness.

This kind of skill can also be useful in family counselling to help the client understand what a family member is trying to say non-verbally.

For instance, the father might be saying something to the mother in a calming tone but the mother looks like she is defending something with her crossing her arms like which can let the father wonder about the nonverbal action.

This kind of skill can also be used in determining that there is something that is inhibiting one’s recovery from counselling.

This can be seen when the client is very hesitant about talking about a subject leading to a change of subject which the counsellor must point out.

This kind of skill can also help the counsellor that there is a communicative dynamic in the counselling relationship.

An example of this occurrence is when the client is sad and seems to be projecting his or her sadness to the counsellor who is trying to comfort the counsellor which the counsellor should point this out to the client.

Most people are typically good at talking about their emotions but they have a hard time feeling those emotions which is important as well.

In this case, this kind of skill allows the client to become aware of his or her emotional and physiological responses and be better at relaying these kinds of responses to the counsellor. 

This kind of skill can repair the mind to be more connected with the body where the disconnection can lead to mental health complications.

Other challenging skills in counselling aside from immediacy in counselling

The following are other challenging skills aside from the skill of immediacy in counselling that are also useful in the counselling session:


This is considered as an advanced skill in counselling. This is where the counsellor is able to share the same experiences shared by the client.

This is a risky skill done in counselling which is why counsellors are trained to know when to do this skill in counselling.

Although this can help the client realize that the counsellor understands his or her predicament.

You can learn more about how this skill is used in counselling by buying this book on this website.


This is another micro skill that came from the founding skills in cognitive therapy.

This can help the client redirect his or her attention to a positive perspective instead of focusing on the negative perspective which only increases problems.

This skill also involves knowing about the good intentions of the client for having this perspective that might have haunted him or her which can lead you to understand more about the perspective of the client.


This skill is used to share a counsellor’s complicated experiences with a client.

This can lead the counsellor to understand the client more and be empathetic to the client’s concern.

This can also help the client get a new perspective of the concern that he or she is currently trapped in.

You can use this book to have some metaphors in your counselling session which can be bought here.


Psychoeducation is another micro skill where the counsellor acts as a teacher to the client.

This can be done by teaching the client how depression works like the client is having a lecture in a psychology class.


This is another broad micro skill where the counsellor will be stating the interpretation of what the client is saying.

This can help the client realize that the counsellor is listening and trying to understand the client’s words.

This skill can be used with reframing and reflections to make the client understand the interpretation.


Ivey, Bradford Ivey, & Zalaquett (2014) found this micro skill useful in counselling as well.

This skill should be used in a gentle method to not arouse the client too much.

The counsellor should also pay in mind the personal culture of the client to not make him or her be forced to do anything that might hurt them.

This skill allows the counsellor to go beyond the boundary of the counselling relationship.

The counsellor should only use this skill as necessary since this might not prep the client which can lead to anxiety.

Repairing Relationships

There will always be a backlash that can happen in relationships.

This is also true in the counselling relationship which tends to be inevitable considering the concerns that will be opened due to counselling.

There will be times when the counsellor might say something that might emotionally trigger a client which can lead to a distrust in the relationship that can affect recovery.

This is why the counsellor should know how to implement this skill to gain the client’s trust again and be able to work towards recovery again.


In this brief blog, we have talked about immediacy in counselling, the importance of immediacy in counselling, services that serve immediacy in counselling, and more information about immediacy in counselling.

If you have any questions about immediacy in counselling, please let us know and the team will gladly answer your questions.

FAQs: immediacy in counselling

What are challenging skills in counselling?

The challenging skills in counselling are those skills that can help you get beyond your client’s restrictions.

You must be able to let your client do something that benefits them which you can do by challenging them. 

What is self disclosure in counselling?

Self-disclosure in counselling is the act of making the counsellor talk about his or her personal perspective or experience which can help the client enhance his or her emotional or psychological state.

These kinds of mental health professionals are warned about using this kind of skill in counselling. 

What is communication and guidance in counselling?

Communication and guidance in counselling are appropriate aspects that can help establish a meaningful relationship between the counsellor and the client and are keys to a successful counselling experience. 

What are the communication skills in counselling?

The communication skills in counselling are attending, basic empathy, listening, probing or questioning, integrating communication skills, and summarising. 

What is the importance of communication in counselling sessions?

The importance of communication in counselling is that it can help the client enhance the client’s expression of emotions and formulation of thoughts.

This can also help the counsellor establish a counselling relationship with the client. 


CE. Challenging Skills.

CPCAB. Immediacy.

Thoughts from a Therapist. Immediacy | tips for therapists | How to use immediacy | experiential techniques.

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