The Three-Stage Framework of a Helping Encounter

Part of Counselling Skills For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Use the three-stage model to manage each helping encounter in a counseling session. Be clear about the time you have available and that you structure the time into three sections:

  • Stage 1: Exploration. This stage takes at least a quarter of the time in single or early sessions of a series because it includes getting-to-know-you time, and time to establish trust. Exploration may take less time later in the helping relationship.

  • Stage 2: Understanding. This usually takes half of the time of the encounter.

  • Stage 3: Action. Around a quarter of the time is given over to deciding what action to take after the session.