PCS Counseling Skills

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PCS Counseling Skills

Minnesota WIC Program


Counseling Skills
Common skills used in providing Participant Centered Services

Demonstration of Skill
Examples of what these skills look like or sound like in WIC

Counseling Skill Demonstration of Skill
Building Rapport: Establish relationship with the participant by clearly communicating and creating expectations, while helping the participant to feel in control
  • Greet the participant
  • Introduce yourself
  • Indicate expected length of the appointment
  • Set the agenda
  • Ask permission to proceed
Active Listening: Focus on the participant and minimize outside distractions.
  • Listen with undivided attention
  • Establish eye contact
  • Have an open expression
  • Stand or sit in a relaxed but attentive manner
  • Speak in a warm tone
  • Use computer as a tool, limit screen time
Collaboration: Lessen participants resistance or "push back". Increase collaboration with participant in making behavior change.
  • When a participant feels ambivalent (two ways) about some of their behaviors, help the participant explore that
  • Do not push a participant to make changes. The participant is responsible for change
  • Encourage participants to talk about their own reasons for change
  • Use an empathetic style based on cooperation, warmth and non-judgment
Identify Change Talk: Listen carefully for a participant's own reasons for making a change. It signals that a person is thinking about an attitude or a behavior change.
  • Listen to a participant for their own reasons they may want to make a change
  • Listen for talk about desires, ability, reasons, fears and needs
  • Use reflective listening to reflect the change talk back to the participant
Open-ended Questions: Use open-ended, non-judgmental questions to engage participant and encourage deeper conversation.
  • Ask questions that require more than a "yes" or "no" or short answer
  • Questions asked in a way that is open, inviting, and accepting
  • Aim for 50% of questions to be open-ended
  • Try to have participant talk twice as much as you
Affirmations: Seize appropriate opportunities to make (genuine) affirming statements to help build rapport and establish relationship.
  • Affirm a trait, attribute or strength of the participant or on their effort towards a healthy behavior
  • Focus on strength, abilities or efforts that support positive change
  • Increase confidence in ability to change; show support and respect
Reflective Listening: Let the speaker know that you have been listening and helps you check your understanding of what is being said or the emotion behind it.
  • Repeat or rephrase what the person says in similar words
  • Paraphrase, making a guess to the unspoken meaning
  • Paraphrase, emphasize the emotion through feeling statements
Explore/Offer/Explore: Identify the participant's knowledge and experiences before providing information. Eliminate redundancy in educational efforts.
  • Explore what the participant already knows, or would like to know. "What do you already know about [blank]?" "What have you heard about [blank]?"
  • Offer information in a neutral, nonjudgmental manner
  • Explore about the participant's thoughts, feeling and reactions. "What do you think about this information?" "What was new or useful?" "How might you use this information?"
Summarizing: Summarize what has been said and ask for feedback to see if you have correctly identified participant's concerns.
  • Tie together what has been said
  • Reemphasize important points or change talk
  • Check for understanding "Did I get it all?" "Did I miss anything?"
Goal Setting: Help participants set goals for achievable behavior change. Goals provide a target to aim for and help establish priorities.
  • Ask questions to help participant clarify the change they want
  • Help participant determine how to achieve a behavior change "How would you do that?" "Would you like to try [blank]?" "So, what do you see yourself doing next?" "What will be your next step?"

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