- The aim of the practical
The aim of the practical was essentially to explore the intentions that underlie the responses that
a listener gives to a speaker/individual with a problem. The five categories of underlying intentions
included Evaluative (E); Interpretive (I); Supportive (S); Probing (P); and Understanding (U). An
Interpretive (I) response showed that the listener intended to teach and inform the speaker what his or
her problem meant. An Evaluative (E) response implied that the listener had actually made a
judgment of relative appropriateness, goodness or effectiveness to the problem of the speaker. A
Supportive (S) problem implied that the intention of the listener was to reassure the sender and lessen
his or her intensity of feeling. A Probing (P) response suggested that the intention of the listener was
to look for additional information, question the speaker, and rouse more discussion. Lastly, an
Understanding (U) response suggested that the intent of the listener was basically to ask the sender
whether the listener rightly comprehends what the sender is saying.
Marks Section 1 /2
- The materials used.
A number of sheets were used to complete this practical.
- Sheet A – this material provided a clear description of the categories of intentions; that is, the 5
intentions underlying the responses – evaluative (E), interpretive (I), supportive (S), probing (P) and
understanding (U) – are explained succinctly and clearly in one or two sentences.
- Questionnaire – this material contained the problems of the speakers/senders which the listener
was to give responses to.
- Sheet C – this material was the answer sheet.
- Sheet D – this material provided the scoring key for identifying the intent of a response to a
speaker’s problem. In essence, this scoring key was used to score the kind of response that I
personally gave for every item.
Marks Section 2 /1
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- The procedure followed in the practical.
In completing the practical, the following procedure was followed: Firstly, Sheet A which
discusses the 5 basic intents underlying the responses to the problems presented in the questionnaire
was studied exhaustively. Then, I went through the questionnaire and classified the responses to each
problem described therein in accordance with the 5 categories of intentions. Each of the 12 statements
of a problem described in the questionnaire was read out. Each of the statements was essentially an
expression by a person – that is, a girl or a boy – with regard to an aspect of the situation faced by this
individual. A series of 5 likely responses followed every statement. I selected the response that best
represented what I would personally say to the speaker. I identified the intent underlying each of the
five alternative responses by marking U for understanding; P for probing; S for supportive; I for
interpretive; and E for evaluative.
After I had completed Answer Sheet C, I used Sheet D, which was the scoring key, to score the
kind of response which I personally gave for every item. I then joined 2 other students and we formed
a group of three people. In this group, we scored the accuracy with which we correctly identified the
different response for every item. Next, we discussed every answer in the group until every group
member understood it. Lastly, I wrote down the outcome of the practical exercise. The class outcome
was described and discussed in detail.
Marks Section 3 /2
- The outcomes.
As a class, five groups were formed
Group 1 2 3 4 5
E 11 3 5 1 3
I 10 5 4 0 13
S 11 0 3 7 18
P 25 12 26 4 24
U 12 39 9 6 12
The table above shows the results from the 5 groups that were formed in class. The
COUNSELLING FOUNDATIONS 3
Is what each group in the class had
The data in the table above was generated by the class as a whole and it included the responses
made to questions by group discussion generated when members of group shared their own
data/results responses. Individually, I was able to learn about the different and at the same time very
useful styles of listening and responding to problems that a speaker has. I also got to learn about the
different circumstances or situations that each style of listening and responding is suitable for.
Marks Section 4 /5
- Your personal comments on how this practical related to your own experience.
The practical related to my own experience since it allowed me to understand how I am going to
be a counselor and the useful styles of listening and responding to problems of a counselee.
As a result of this practical exercise, I can effectively apply the useful styles in real life with a
counselee depending on the problem of the counselee. For instance, I can utilize the Evaluative (E)
style as a therapist or counselor to make a judgment of relative effectiveness, goodness or rightness of
the problem of the counselee. When with a client with a different problem, I may utilize the
Interpretive (I) style by providing a response to the client that demonstrates that my intent is to teach
and notify the counselee what his or her problem means, or I may employ the Supportive (S) style and
give the client a response which suggests that my intention in the counseling is to reassure the client,
to calm the client, and lessen his or her intensity of feeling (Rogers, 1957). Equally important, the
practical exercise has allowed me to understand how to use the Probing (P) style and give a response
which shows that my intention as a counselor is to question the client and rouse more discussion along
a particular line, as well as how to use Understanding (U) style and give responses that imply my
intention is to find out how the client views the problem and how he or she actually feels about that
Furthermore, the practical allowed me to realize that I am actually a probing person since I am
always inclined to probing the counselee and seek additional information from them. In my future
counseling experiences with clients, I will try to also employ the other styles rather than being a
counselor who solely uses the probing technique during counseling sessions: I will also strive to be
evaluative, interpretive, supportive and understanding. The practical also related to my own personal
experience as it has allowed me to realize that although I talk to counselees a lot as a counselor,
counseling in general should involve a lot more than merely talk. This is largely because the sort of
verbal responses that a therapist makes are really crucial and could actually encumber or facilitate the
COUNSELLING FOUNDATIONS 4
counseling goals. In my own personal experience, I usually do not put much emphasis on my
relationship as a counselor with the client, and I do not always ensure it is a high quality relationship.
The practical exercise has allowed me to realize that the client-counselor relationship can affect the
outcomes of therapy very much. It has actually made me to reconsider my relationship with
counselees and in the future I will ensure that I build a good and positive relationship with clients to
ensure that successful therapy/counseling takes place.
Marks Section 5 /40
- Relevance of practical in a counseling/psychotherapy context. (Use theory from the lectures,
textbooks, and practical to comment here)
The practical exercise is relevant in psychotherapy/counseling context since it highlights
some of the helpful aspects of verbal responses that a counselor or psychotherapist can make.
Generally, counselors and psychotherapists engage in various forms of communication with their
clients for instance behavioral, experiential, non-verbal and verbal forms of communication (Wittmer
& Myrick, 1974). Counseling psychotherapy sessions involve more than simply talking considering
that the type of verbal responses that a therapist makes is very important and can actually impede or
help their therapy/counseling goals. Using the different styles of listening and responding – giving
feedback – to problems as demonstrated in the practical exercise is crucial in any psychotherapy or
counseling sessions. Evaluative feedback, according to Rogers (1957), makes judgment regarding the
other person, and evaluates goodness or worth. Judging an individual and their actions are two very
different things. A therapist uses the evaluative style when the client asks the therapist to share a
professional judgment regarding the correctness of a behavior or process. It is used when the
counselor has to provide positive feedback on the accuracy, correctness or appropriateness of a
performance, function, belief or behavior of the client (Rockland, 2013).
During counseling session, the understanding response style should be used when the counselor
intends to express regard for the client’s feelings and thoughts; when therapist wants to convey
compassion, empathy and respect; intends to develop the therapeutic relationship; is unsure regarding
how to respond but intends to say ‘I am with you’; or intends to confirm understanding or prompt the
client to expound (Jannati et al., 2012). Rogers (1957) talked about the instinctive inclination for
human beings to desire to be understood. Understanding feedback is used to communicate empathy as
well as sympathy for the source of the message. Understanding response allows the client and
counselor/therapist to develop a positive relationship which is key to successful counseling or
COUNSELLING FOUNDATIONS 5
The supportive response style is used by a therapist/counselor whenever the client needs
agreement or support; is in need of comfort and reassurance; when the situation is very emotional and
client needs a measure of hope and acknowledgment of the difficulty; and when the client is really
trying hard and needs some encouragement (Cooper, 2010). Supportive feedback is used by the
counselor to communicate encouragement in responding to a client’s message.
A therapist/counselor uses probing response style when he or she intends to convey interest in the
situation of the client; needs/wants to know more regarding a problem or circumstance which the
counselee is describing; and when counselor wants clarity regarding particular details of a client’s
problem – that is, extra information or answers to the when, how often, where, what and who
questions (Pearson & Bulsara, 2016). Probing feedback is essentially used to communicate targeted
requests for particular information. Equally important, interpretive feedback is important as it is
suitable whenever the counselor intends to make an unsure supposition with regard to the state of a
client basing upon some behaviors just observed; intends to explain a situation basing upon an
occupational therapy knowledge base; or when a client asks for a cause or meaning of an occupational
problem or experience (Rogers, 1957). During any counseling or therapy conversation, the
therapist/counselor might not be totally certain that he/she heard the speaker correctly, and therefore it
is usually a great idea to repeat or paraphrase what the listener has heard as a method of asking for
clarification or confirmation. Moreover, the listener might comprehend what the client stated, but
restate the major points to communicate attention (Wittmer & Myrick, 1974). On the whole,
interpretive feedback asks for clarification or confirmation of the message, and the counselor will
mainly convey it in the form of a question.
The 5 response styles are useful facilitative responses and are effective in establishing helpful
relationship during a counseling session. Knowing each of the 5 dissimilar counselor responses could
help a counselor to notice any lopsidedness in the way in which he or she responds to the client. It
also helps the counselor to assess the type of responses or response that is most appropriate (Wittmer
& Myrick, 1974).
Cooper, M. (2010). The challenge of counseling and psychotherapy research. Counseling &
Psychotherapy Research, 10(3), 183-191. doi:10.1080/14733140903518420
COUNSELLING FOUNDATIONS 6
Jannati, Y., Khaki, N., Sangtarashani, E. O., Peyrovi, H., Amiri & Nojadeh, N. (2012). The effect
of supportive counseling program on the academic performance of nursing and midwifery
students. Contemporary Nurse, 43(1), 113-20.
Pearson, M. R., & Bulsara, C. (2016). Therapists’ experiences of alliance formation in short-term
counseling. European Journal Of Psychotherapy & Counseling, 18(1), 75-92.
Rockland, L. (2013). A review of supportive psychotherapy. Hospital and Community Psychiatry,
Rogers, C. (1957). The necessary and sufficient conditions of therapeutic personality change.
Journal of Consulting Psychology, 21(2), 95-103.
Winston, A., Pinker, H., McCullough, L. (2012). A review of supportive psychotherapy. Hospital
and Community Psychiatry, 37(11), 1105-114.
Wittmer, J. & Myrick, R.D. (1974). Facilitative Teaching: Theory and Practice. Pacific
Palisades California: Goodyear Publishing Company, Inc. ISBN: 0-87620-287-3. Pp. 51-