- Learn How to Effectively Counsell Teenage Children -

By Kevin Brown on July 31, 2017

 In order for one to be an effective counsell or for teenage children, you must master the necessary skills. The basis of helping skills is active and effective listening. Effective listening is more complicated than it seems on the surface. Listening is more than just hearing. It requires a battery of skills which include: attending skills, reflecting skills, paraphrasing skills and effective questions.

It is essential that as the child talks, you assure them that you are giving them your full attention. This is essential in building a rapport with the kid which is the central ingredient that will enable teenagers to feel safe enough to open up. Remember you’re sitting posture and eye contact will be an indicator that you are together with the child in question. In addition to this you have to convince the kid that you are genuine. You can show this by being natural and unassuming. Show respect by receiving the teenager with warmth and encouragement.

Allow the kid to follow their own line of thought. Encourage them to talk by using door openers, e.g. ‘Tell me, is there something on your mind?” Nod your head to show that you are listening. Attentive silence will also be an asset in listening because it will help the kid not to lose their train of thought.

Reflecting back on what the kid has said demonstrates that you are listening and it also allows the kid to build a clear picture of their situation. Reflecting your own observations will be a vital tool in counselling, for example: “I notice that you look very sad” or “when you spoke of your parents being very hostile, you sounded very disappointed” etc. Also, after the teenager has gone, you need to reflect on the jumble of conversation, sift through it, and make a concise recap of the major themes to build up a reflective summary.

Summarize your discussion with the kid in your own words. This enables you to check that you have got the right impression at that stage. If you feel that some points are not clear, then you have to seek further clarity of what the kid had said.

Questions are the key; they will either lock or unlock the door of understanding. The technique of asking questions will provide an opportunity for kids to learn how to solve their own problems. Good questions will provide you with important information about the kid and the immediate situation. When you want more clarity you can ask questions like; “is this you mean?” or what exactly do you mean by…….” These kinds of questions are known as rephrase questions.

To encourage the kid to reflect you can ask; “how do you think this happened” or “how did you feel about it”. When you want the kid to consider another perspective you can ask “what if” questions. These kinds of questions are known as reverse questions.

Questions like “why” should be avoided at all cost, because they imply judgment and will always put the kid in the defensive. The same information can be obtained by paraphrasing the question (e.g. “what caused you to….” Or “how did you come to…”).

Rapid fire questions are also bad. They are generally confusing and a poor communication technique. Never ask more than one question at a time (e.g. “are you pregnant? Have you told your boyfriend? What do you expect from your parents?”).

Finally, never ask questions to manipulate a preferred response.

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