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This course has discussed the stages and components to doing effective counseling: from developing the counseling relationship to assessing the presenting problems to identifying and setting the counseling goals to designing and implementing interventions to terminating and following-up.

Clinicians need a wide range of interpersonal and counseling skills to effectively work with diverse client populations. While acquiring and maintaining these skills can seem overwhelming, it is important to remember that the essence of counseling is the one-on-one relationship between the clinician and the client.

Raymond Corsini (2000) tells the story of working as psychologist at a prison. An inmate was going to be leaving the prison because he had been granted parole and he wanted to speak with Corsini and thank him before he left. The inmate told him that after he left his office about two years ago, he felt he was a new person and he related all of the ways in which he had changed as a result of his meeting with Corsini including learning a trade in prison, getting a high school diploma, reconnecting with his family, taking a drafting course, and, as a result, having a job when he leaves prison.

The problem is that Corsini could not remember ever seeing him and the only notation he could find in his file was that he had given him an IQ test about two years before. The inmate said: “I will never forget what you said to me. It changed my life. You told me I had a high IQ.” Corsini asked him why his statement about his IQ had such a profound effect. The inmate went on to tell him that he had always thought of himself as “stupid” or “crazy,” terms that had been applied to him many times by his family, teachers, and friends. He said he suddenly realized that he was normal and bright, and not crazy or stupid - and it changed his life.

What this example teaches us is that while doing effective counseling requires a complex set of skills, attitudes, and behaviors, the foundation of the relationship can be a simple as listening to what your clients have to say about their life situations and providing meaningful feedback and interventions. Often it is when we do the least that we can have the most profound impact on our clients.