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Counselling Skills for Non-Counsellors



I have been asked to put together a very short workshop (4-hours - yes I know... not long enough to do anything worthwhile but we're launching a more formal training programme next year, so this is only a 'whetting appetite' session!) on 'Counselling Skills'.

Target audience are 1st Line and Middle Managers within the Transport and Logistics field who have not had formal Management Development who require basic Counselling Skills to be able to deal with employee issues prior to them being referred to HR in a D&G/Performance Management situation.

We are trying to get the managers to engage in basic techniques to uncover the real issue with their employee before passing it to the relevant person or dealing with it themselves.

I have some ideas of topics content, however if anyone has any materials, exercises, examples or training notes they are prepared to share with me to put this together, I'd be very grateful.

I'm not looking for a fully-written course; merely some content, handout info and trainer thought around what you may see are the key areas I should think to cover in 4 hours.

Many thanks in advance and holding out much hope of your generosity!

Kate :)
Kate Southall

5 Responses

  1. “Questioning” skills
    Kate, I have some very brief case studies that I use in a course entitled Effictive Performance Discussions.
    They make for a 5-10 minute role play of a meeting between manager and staff member where the “trigger” is a performance issue but the manager is trying to elicit information as to the cause.
    They may be useful IF this is the sort of thing that might fit your event. If so please contact me at [email protected] and I’ll let you have a copy

  2. Counselling skills

    As part of my bullying and harassment course with the counselling session I include information on communication skills to illicit information ie questioning, listening, body language, building empathy etc.

    Sandra Beale

  3. Listening
    I agree with your other respondents – listening and questioning are absolutely key skills. I have a listening exercise if you would like to contact me directly.

    Kind regards


  4. Resources and a design for you to play with
    Dear Kate

    I have resources and a design you could play with. The design is on You could also use the introduction to coconsulting on The web addresses are odd because I am between websites at present. There is an article about counselling skills that might be useful as a handout. The site is searchable so you may find other useful things on it.

    I have found that people like taking turns helping each other on real issues. Fifteen minutes each way works well. This has worked better for me than role plays – which often seem artificial. When people work on real things, they soon discover that the initial issue is not the real issue.

    I hope it goes well.

    Best wishes

    Nick Heap

  5. Counselling Workshop
    Hi Kate,

    I have also been in a similar position of being asked to run brief Counselling Skills workshops. It is not easy with the time you have available.

    I have found that a very useful approach is to simply help people understand the difference between ‘counselling’, ‘coaching’ and simply having an ‘honest conversation’ with a team-member.

    I have found that ‘Counselling’ with its principals based on a highly confidential longer-term relationship, non-judgemetal listening, empathy, advanced empathy, trust, congruence, non-direction etc rarely, if ever, sit well with a TL or manager.

    Not that they could not learn these skills – it is just that the typical relationship between manager and sub-ordinate tends to pre-clude these more intimate and confidential discussions. And they can be quite dangerous when used by in-experienced managers.

    That said, I agree that a workshop which focusses on good Questioning and Listening Skills; Rapport; Body Language; Support and Challenge etc would be ideal for the type of situations you have described. We did something similar calling it “Dealing With Difficult Conversations” – which steered people towards what was actually required whilst steering them away from any clumsy attempts at more longer term counselling.

    One of the real benefits however of discussing the reality of Counselling was that it made managers realise that counselling, as such, was not really part of their re-mit, but there was clearly a big need for an independent, truly confidential counselling service sponsored by the company; whereby employees were free to discuss matters outside the Manager-Sub-ordinate relayionship.

    More than happy to provide any more details. Just drop a line back.

    Best regards




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