Assessment 2: Psychotherapeutic Skills Essay

Assessment 2: Psychotherapeutic Skills Essay

Counselors play a significant role in restoring normal functioning for clients grappling with multiple issues, including adjustment reactions, challenges of daily living, and developmental issues. According to Kottler & Shepard (2015), the basic component of counseling is developing meaningful and close working alliances and relationships with clients. Working alliances underpin the practical dimension of the therapeutic relationship that enables counselors to work with family members, clients, and colleagues. It is essential to note that clients begin the counseling process at a disadvantage because they demonstrate anxiety, confusion, and overwhelmed feelings regarding the underlying issues. It takes trust, empathy, confidentiality, benevolent power, and commitment by counselors to address issues affecting clients and establish therapeutic alliances (Kottler & Shepard, 2015). This paper presents a review of excerpts from initial counseling sessions to discuss mechanisms of forming the therapeutic alliance, and explain the used attending and listening skills.

A Summary of the Video Observations

The video observations involved four excerpts of a therapeutic conversation between Dr. Attridge and Marisa. The major issue that forms the basis of this therapeutic engagement is Marisa’s family concerns revolving around the divided attention for her aging mother and her husband. She indicates the feeling of barrier issues that emerge due to the inability to fulfill attention demands from her mother and husband. Dr. Attridge capitalizes on effective communication skills and therapeutic skills to obtain insights from Marisa and understand issues that affect the client. Based on the communication and relational skills and competencies applied in the excerpts, it is valid to argue that the therapist and the client develop a therapeutic alliance and a meaningful relationship that would improve the subsequent outcomes of the therapy sessions.

How the Counselor and the Client Used Therapeutic Alliance

Dr. Attridge and Marisa used various strategies to form a therapeutic alliance. According to Tschuschke et al. (2022), clients’ and therapists’ characteristics have positive impacts on therapeutic alliance and outcomes. For example, the therapist’s preferred theoretical concepts, including humanistic, psychodynamic, body-oriented, and integrative approaches determine how the client responds to questions and participates in providing information regarding issues of concern. On the other hand, Kottler & Shepard (2015) perceive therapeutic alliance as a concept that entails interprofessional influence variables of expertness, attractiveness, and trustworthiness. In this sense, developing a working alliance is a tool for establishing power and influence, as well as enabling therapists to understand and respond to clients’ concerns.

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In the four excerpts, Dr. Attridge uses client-centered approaches to communicate with Marisa. This therapeutic model emphasizes the client’s role in controlling therapeutic sessions by allowing them to provide information that forms the basis of a therapeutic alliance. At the beginning of the excepts, the therapist starts by greeting the client and requiring her to share the issues of concern. This strategy is vital in creating a sense of ownership for the clients and alleviating disadvantages, including anxiety, the feeling of inferiority, and confusion. Equally, Dr. Attridge is keen on avoiding implicit perceptions or biases by maintaining active listening skills and delegating adequate time for the client to respond to questions. Other components of a therapeutic alliance used in the excerpts are empathy, appropriate non-verbal cues like eye contact and posture, and the use of open-ended questions. According to Not (2019), the primary purpose of questioning in counseling sessions is to explore and obtain a deeper understanding of issues that affect clients, as well as inform therapeutic models. Open-ended questions do not limit clients’ explanations and are profound in broadening the scope of the counseling sessions.

Attending and Listening Skills

Attending and listening skills are equally essential in improving therapeutic sessions and developing meaningful relationships between therapists and clients. These sets of skills underpin effective communication. They include maintaining eye contact, appropriate body language, facial expressions, active listening, and a clear tone of voice. Throughout the video, Dr. Attridge used a set of attending and listening skills, including being attentive, actively listening to Marisa’s life story, and empathizing with the client. These strategies created a conducive environment for Marisa to respond to questions and openly share information.

How the Client Responded to the Therapist

Marisa was very cooperative and participative in answering questions regarding the issue of concern. The primary reasons for the client’s willingness to respond to questions were the therapist’s preferable use of open-ended questions, the establishment of an open and trusting relationship, and the adoption of appropriate attending and listening skills, including active listening, empathy, and non-verbal cues. It is essential to note that developing a therapeutic alliance and meaningful relationship during therapeutic sessions improves clients’ participation and willingness to provide information.

The Most Effective Therapist Strategies

A patient-centered therapeutic strategy remains an effective tool for improving the outcomes of therapy sessions. According to Kottler & Shepard (2015), person-centered counseling operates on various assumptions, including the client’s self-actualization, the development of the therapeutic relationship by demonstrating trust, openness, acceptance, and permissiveness, the view of humans as intrinsically good and trustworthy, and improving self-awareness through promoting interpersonal relationships and self-conception. Dr. Attridge uses this model to communicate with Marisa and obtain information regarding the issues of concern.


Lessons from the Video

After reviewing the excerpts, I realized that developing meaningful relationships with the client, establishing a therapeutic alliance, and using a person-centered approach is vital in improving the quality of therapy sessions and enhancing outcomes. For example, using open-ended questions, developing trust, ensuring openness, and cultivating a conducive environment enables therapists to address implicit perceptions and allow clients to willingly provide information. Also, these approaches eliminate anxiety, confusion, and feeling of inferiority among clients.

A Description of the Skills I Used in the Listening Sessions

Although the listening session entailed discussions on personal issues, we endeavored to use appropriate listening skills, including active listening and empathy. For instance, the discussion majored on our past sad moments. As a result, empathy and active listening enabled each of us to openly share our moments and develop a meaningful relationship based on our common themes. Also, we established a rapport before commencing the active listening session to enable each party to familiarize themselves with the major topics. Finally, each person demonstrated concern for the other, allowing us to create a sense of ownership and a conducive environment for communication.

Insights from the Listening Activities

During the listening activities, I acquired various insights into factors and skills that underpin effective communication and listening. Firstly, I realized that demonstrating concern and empathizing with other people’s issues cultivate a conducive environment for more in-depth communication. Also, active listening skills like maintaining close eye contact, appropriate facial expression, and attention are fundamental in improving communication and enabling listeners to understand other people’s issues of concern. As a result, these sets of skills can cultivate therapeutic alliances and relationships that underpin interactions.

Research Findings

Current scholarly research identifies therapeutic alliance and relationships as the most of profound tools in counseling and therapeutic sessions. According to Hunting Pompon (2021), active listening, attending skills, and self-awareness are the basic counseling skills that enable therapists to develop meaningful relationships with clients. Hunting Pompon (2021) contends that attending skills entail appropriate non-verbal behaviors, active listening, and communicating with empathy. On the other hand, Aponte (2021) argues that self-awareness and self-mastery of the person in the context of the therapeutic process are vital aspects in developing close human relationships with clients. The two scholarly articles identify the development of meaningful relationships through active listening, self-awareness, and empathy as essential components of effective therapeutic processes.


Therapeutic alliance and relationships underpin counseling. As demonstrated in the video excerpts and listening activities, it is vital to adopt a set of listening and communicating skills, including active listening, attentiveness, trust, empathy, and appropriate non-verbal behaviors, including eye contact and posture when communicating with other people to understand their issues of concern. These skills and competencies are vital in developing human relationships and motivating clients to share insights into issues that form the basis of therapeutic sessions.


Aponte, H. J. (2021). The soul of therapy: The therapist’s use of self in the therapeutic relationship. Contemporary Family Therapy, 44.

Hunting Pompon, R. (2021). Basic counseling skills: Working with people with Aphasia and their families. Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, 1–12.

Kottler, J. A., & Shepard, D. S. (2015). Introduction to counseling: Voices from the field (8th ed.). Cengage Learning.

Nor, M. Z. M. (2020). Counseling: What and how. Counseling and Therapy.

Tschuschke, V., Koemeda-Lutz, M., von Wyl, A., Crameri, A., & Schulthess, P. (2021). The impact of clients’ and therapists’ characteristics on therapeutic alliance and outcome. Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy.

This week, you are introduced to therapeutic skills and cultural competency. Write 3-4 pages that reflect on the therapeutic relationship and empathic listening.

The multicultural counseling movement has made great strides over the past few years and has gone beyond simple “awareness” of cultural differences to an emphasis on the development of specific attitudes and skills related to counseling people from diverse backgrounds. Models of cultural competency and sensitivity can help guide practitioners’ intentional development of cultural competency. There are models of skills that go into cultural competency in counseling. The beginning of working with clients of any cultural is to develop basic therapeutic listening skills. For your assessment, you will focus on basic skills of listening, expression of empathy, and reflection that are a foundational part of the therapy relationship.

Counselors use a variety of skills and methods to help someone. In this assessment, you will learn to identify some of these skills as well as have an opportunity to practice listening skills. You may find that simply listening is harder than it sounds.

In Part One of this assessment, you will watch a video and reflect on what you observed. In Part Two, practice your listening skills with a partner. After you complete these exercises, write a 3-4-page paper that reflects what you learned during these experiences.

Part One
Watch the Excerpts from Initial Counseling Sessions video presentation and observe the following:

How the therapeutic alliance is being formed.
The attending and listening skills being used.
How the client is responding to the therapist.
Which counselor strategies seem to be most effective with the client.
You are encouraged to watch the video more than once and take notes since the answers to these questions will be incorporated into your paper.


Part Two
For the second part of this assessment, find a partner with whom you can practice your listening skills. This is not a mock therapy session, so the volunteer should not discuss a personal problem or issue. Instead your partner can talk about any topic they choose for 3 minutes. You should actually time the session.

Your task is to simply listen to the person without interjecting anything about yourself. For this first round, you should also not ask any questions or even respond to your partner verbally. You can however use nonverbal behavior to indicate that you are actively listening.

For the second round, your partner should continue talking for another 5 minutes. They can talk about the same topic from the first round or a new one. Prior to beginning, explain that you will be interacting a little bit more to practice your counseling skills. However, the goal is still to listen to what is being shared, not to interject information about yourself. Focus on basic attending and listening skills while still keeping in mind the ultimate objective, which is to simply listen.

At the conclusion of the session, ask your partner for feedback. You can use some of the following questions:

What was it like to talk without getting verbal feedback (first round)?
Did you feel heard for the second round? If so, what made you feel as though you were heard?
Was there anything in either round that could have helped you to feel more like you were being listened to?
Overall, what was this activity like?
For this assessment, write a paper, 3-4-pages, of your video observations and the listening session with a partner. The paper should contain the following:

A summary of your video observations using the guidelines provided in Part One of this exercise. Provide specific examples when writing your responses. As a reminder, the subtopics are as follows:
How the therapeutic alliance is being formed.
The attending and listening skills being used.
How the client is responding to the therapist.
Which therapist strategies seem to be most effective with the client.
Anything you learned from the video that you were able to practice with your volunteer. Be sure to relate your learning to research.
A description of the skills you used for the listening sessions.
Insights you gleaned from the listening activities. Be sure to relate your learning to research.
Research findings (from the text and supplemental scholarly literature) on the therapeutic alliance, efficacy of counseling, nonspecific or relationship therapeutic factors, and/or counseling skills. Use at least 2 professional or scholarly resources to inform your work.
Assessment Requirements
Written communication: Written communication is free of errors that detract from the overall message.
APA formatting: References and in-text citations are formatted according to current APA style and formatting. See Evidence and APA for more information.
Length: 3-4 double-spaced pages of content, in addition to the title page and references page.
References: Use at least two professional or scholarly sources to support your paper.
Font and font size: Times New Roman, 12 point font.
SafeAssign: Use the SafeAssign Draft option to check your writing and ensure that you have paraphrased, quoted, and cited your sources appropriately. Run a SafeAssign report, saving your paper as a draft. Based on your SafeAssign results, make any necessary changes to your paper before submitting your assessment to your instructor for grading.
In addition, look through the Psychotherapeutic Skills Scoring Guide to ensure you have met all of the criteria for the assessment.

Competencies Measured
By successfully completing this assessment, you will demonstrate your proficiency in the following course competencies and scoring guide criteria:

Competency 1: Apply psychotherapeutic methods to case studies.
Identify psychotherapeutic skills used in a particular scenario.
Describe the effect of psychotherapeutic skills on a client.
Describe the listening skills used in a listening activity.
Explain what was learned through listening activities.
Competency 2: Explore counseling career options.
Apply research findings to understand the importance of the alliance between counselors and clients.
Competency 3: Write using a clear purpose, organization, tone, and sentence structure.
Communicate clearly with appropriate purpose, organization, tone, and sentence structure.
Cite sources using author and year, and provide some reference information required in APA style.

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