What is attending behaviour in counselling?

The current blogpost will be based on the question “What is attending behaviour in counselling?”. We will discuss the various attending behaviors in counseling. We will also explore each of the attending behaviors in detail. Further the advantages of attending behaviors in counseling will also be discussed.

What is attending behaviour in counselling?

Attending behavior in counseling is stated as being physically and psychologically present for the client. It is aimed at giving undivided attention to the clients in counseling sessions. Attending behavior in counseling means that a counselor shows the client unconditional positive regard and empathy. 

Attending behavior in counseling is based on both listening and observing. Listening in attending behavior in counseling is based on listening actively to the client. Whereas observing involves noticing and being a keen observer of the client’s body language.

Active listening in the attending behavior in counseling includes listening to the client actively, voluntarily, intentionally and involving all your body parts in it. 

Attending skills  in counseling involves the following :

  • Verbal listening skills 
  • Asking Questions
  • Using reflection
  • Empathy
  • Genuineness
  • Unconditional Positive Regard
  • Counselor Self Disclosure
  • Verbal listening skills 

Verbal listening skills in attending behavior in counseling involve various verbal cues that show the client that the counselor is concerned towards the client and is listening towards the client. The verbal cues encourage the client in the counseling process to share more details and appreciate the client to share his true thoughts and feelings.

  • Asking Questions

Asking questions in counseling sessions is included in attending behavior in counseling. Asking questions involves asking open ended questions and close ended questions. The type of questions that need to be asked are based on the entire counseling process and case formulation. The counselor chooses whether to ask open ended or close ended questions. 

Open-ended questions are questions that are not based on yes or no questions. Open ended questions are used to find out detailed answers and probe into the details of things. These questions are used to find out the thoughts and feelings of the client and explore the client’s history in detail. 

  • Close Ended Questions 

Close ended questions are questions that are based on simple yes or no answers. Close-ended questions do not provide the counselors the opportunity of getting deep down into the client’s case or probe into the client’s history.

  • Using reflection

Reflection techniques in counseling are included in attending skills in counseling. The reflection technique is used in the counseling process to accurately describe the client’s state based on the client’s verbal and non verbal cues. 

Reflection techniques are based on the following :

  • Feelings reflections
  • Restating
  • Affirmations
  • Feelings reflections

Reflections allow the clients in the counseling sessions to hear their feelings from the counselor and understand what the counselor has comprehended from their verbatim. The counselors need to attend so well to find out any descriptive element that may be present in the client’s verbatim.

  • Restating

Restating and paraphrasing helps the counselor in building a strong rapport with the client. Attending the client through restating allows the counselor to better understand the client’s verbatim and comprehend their primary feelings.

  • Affirmations

Affirmations are a part of reflection. Affirmations are a source of encouragement that is used in counseling sessions to affirm behaviors or life choices of the clients. Through affirmations clients are easily empowered during the counseling sessions. 

  • Empathy

Empathy in counseling sessions is used by counselors to attend to the client. Empathy is a counselor’s ability to put himself in the client’s context. The counselors while being with the client are able to attend them well through empathy by understanding them well in the counseling process. Empathy is different from sympathy and gives the counselor strength to better access the clients .

  • Genuineness

Attending skills in counseling involve being genuine with the client. The counselor needs to have a congruence between their words and actions. It is necessary that no matter what technique a therapist uses and what counseling process is selected for the client , the counselor needs to stay genuine in all aspects.

  • Unconditional Positive Regard

Attending skills are greatly based on the counselor’s unconditional positive regard. The counselor unconditionally accepts the client without being judgemental or biased. When a counselor accepts the client unconditionally, the client feels respected and the whole process builds rapport between the client and the counselor.

  • Counselor Self Disclosure

Counselor self disclosure is a type of attending skill used in counseling sessions by the counselor. Self disclosure in counseling sessions is a tricky business.  The important rule in counseling self disclosure is to only share that type of information and to that extent as required by the counseling process. 

Counseling self disclosure is an attending skill that brings the counselor closer to the client.

Advantages of Attending skills in counseling 

Following are the advantages of attending skills in counseling :

  • Attending skills in counseling helps to  establish a rapport between the client and the counselor
  • Attending skills in counseling helps the counselor to better understand the client
  • Attending skills in counseling help the counselor empathize with the client
  • Attending skills in counseling helps the counselor to break the client’s resistance
  • Attending skills in counseling help the counselor to delve deeper in to the client’s cognitive process
  • Attending skills in counseling facilitate the counselor in understanding the client’s  feelings and any traumatic experiences.
  • Attending skills in counseling help the counselor  to know the client’s history.


The current blogpost was based on the question “What is attending behaviour in counselling?. We learned the advantages of attending behavior in counseling. We also discussed the various attending behaviors that are used in counseling by the counselors on priority basis.

Frequently asked questions : attending behaviour in counselling

What are the 4 attending behaviors?

Following are the 4 attending behaviors :

What are examples of attending behavior in counseling?

Following examples of attending behavior in counseling:

  • Refer to the speaker by name.
  • Use encouraging statements, i.e. “Uh huh,” “Go on,” “I’m listening”
  • Posture toward the speaker.
  • Maintain appropriate eye contact.
  • Display facial expressions that express interest and concern.
  • Nod head to convey affirmation

What is the difference between attending and listening?

Listening is an active and intentional process that is based on paying attention to the verbal and non verbal messages. On the other hand attending is based on accurately identifying and identifying the sounds that are being heard.

What are some basic attending skills?

Basic attending skills include the following :

  • attending behavior
  • questions encouragers
  • Paraphrasing
  • reflection of feelings
  • summarization through a straightforward