7 Basic Procedures That a School Counselor must follow at Initial Interviewing

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The counsellor may need to review background data concerning the student or read notes made after the last meetings.

He may know of some materials or information sources that he could have readily available. The student, if he is aware of the purposes of counselling, should consider how he can best use the time available.

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As described earlier in the chapter, the counsellor uses his skill in communication to draw upon what the student wants, what he is attempting to say, and what he considers of current primary importance.

2. Developing opening structure:

The student needs to know who the counsellor is, what he is able to do, and what he expects of the student.

This should be done briefly and simply. Experienced counsellors know how to communicate quickly and effectively.

3. Establishing the objectives:

As a product of his training and experience, the counsellor will be aware of objectives he can set for himself in counselling.

These stem from his professional value system and the way he conceptualizes human development. They are manifested in the ways that he can effectively behave and communicate with students.

During the opening minutes of the interview, the counsellor and student need to establish objectives or goals toward which they can work in the time available.

The objectives are not of a fixed nature and may be revised as the interview develops. An objective must be attainable and realistic in order to be a goal worth pursuing.

4. Building the relationship:

As the interview progresses, the counsellor must continue to build upon the relationship that has been established. His honesty, expression of interest, humanness, and perceptiveness will allow the student to realise that the counsellor is fully committed to assisting him.

At times, however, the novice counsellor needs to remember to let a little of himself out. A warm smile, a touch on the hand, a nod of understanding, any act of caring that is shown will help the student to invest a little more of himself and be more honest in his communication.

5. Helping the student to talk:

The counsellor may perceive that the student is reluctant to discuss some concerns or some aspects of concerns even though a sound, trusting relationship has been developed. When this occurs, the counsellor may need to give particular assistance to get communication going.

The threatening nature of the concern probably prohibits approaching it frontally. The counsellor must therefore rely upon spontaneity and sensitivity in (a) assisting the student to express his feelings, (b) understanding why the student is experiencing difficulty, and (c) helping the student to recognise feelings of which he is unaware or has difficulty accepting. The counsellor’s own relaxed and reassuring manner will convey more than the words he uses.

6. Terminating the interview:

The counsellor must use his skill in developing closing, as well as opening, structure. He initiates this phase of the interview by pausing longer between responses, focusing more upon cognitive than affective aspects or the student’s concern, and not encouraging further exploration of subtleties or tension-producing areas.

His sensitivity assists him in determining when the focus might be changed to the summary and plans for subsequent meetings.

This may be initiated by his suggestion that “our time is all but up”. The counsellor asks the student to summarise those aspects of the interview that were most meaningful and assists him, as necessary, in reviewing the objective and whether or not it was achieved. Plans for the future must then be made.

Will there be another interview? When? Where? Or should there be a referral? Should tests be taken? Information sources tapped?

When counsellor and student have reached an understanding concerning how they might handle matters such as these, the counsellor stands up (an excellent way to prevent a reopening of concerns) and sees the client to the outer office.

7. Planning the follow-up:

After each interview the counsellor should make some brief notes as a check upon his own faulty memory and in order to keep a running record of what has transpired through the series of interviews.

This informal, individual follow-up can be structured to give the counsellor some evidence of whether or not he was effective.

A more comprehensive, mass follow-up is conducted separately as a guidance service to study groups such as all seniors, all recent graduates, or all students now in technical schools.


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