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Clarifying and probing questions

Video Type: In Practice

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David and Christie “Clarifying and probing questions” Video Introduction David has just shared the limits to confidentiality and he invites Christie to tell him why she has come in. While he is mostly concerned with giving Christie space to share her story, David also wants to ensure he has a clear picture of her situation. To do this he occasionally interrupts the flow of the story to ask clarifying and probing questions. What are some of the questions he asks and how do they help to add to the picture of Christie's situation? What aspects of this practice might you have done similarly/differently? Video Analysis There are always decisions to be made about how often to interrupt a client's account to seek clarifications. Too often, and they may feel they are not being heard out. Not often enough, and the counselor may become confused about the situation. When done in measured amounts, asking clarifying and probing questions can convey to the client that you are listening and attending, while ensuring that you are clear on the details of their story. Notice that the tone of Christie's sharing fluctuates here and David responds accordingly. She is clearly struggling and there is cause to convey empathy for her struggles, but there are also lighter aspects to her life as well—such as her young child to whom she is very devoted— and David attempts to greet these with a tone that matches that levity.

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