Strategies That Aid in Data Gathering
This group of strategies includes all of the active listening strategies plus three strategies designed to extract specific information and gain greater depth of information in areas that are significant in the client's statements. As with active listening strategies, a counselor or therapist who uses the following strategies enhances his or her chances of gaining significant information. This set of strategies includes questioning, probing, and leading. The following paragraphs present explanations and examples of these strategies.
This strategy, when done in an open manner, enables the counselor or therapist to gain important information and allows the client to remain in control of the information presented. Using open questioning, the counselor or therapist designs these questions to encourage the broadest client responses. Open questions, as opposed to closed questions, generally cannot be completely answered by either yes or no, nor can they be answered nonverbally by shaking the head. This type of questioning places responsibility with clients and allows them a degree of control over what information will be shared.
Client: I've thought a lot about what we talked about last week, and I feel I have to work on changing my behavior.
Counselor/Therapist: Would you tell me what you think needs to be done to change your behavior?
Client: (short pause) I need to stop screwing up my chances for a relationship. I need to face what it is that makes me run away.
Counselor/Therapist: Would you please talk more about the "it" that makes you run away.
Client: I can't tell you what it is. All I know is that I hear this voice saying, "Run, run." Probing and Leading
These strategies enable a counselor or therapist to gather information in a specific area related to the client's presented concerns (probing) or to encourage the client to respond to specific topic areas (leading). Each of these enables the counselor or therapist to explore at greater depth areas that are seen as important to progress within the session.
Counselor/therapist: I want you to be more specific about this "voice." Whose voice is it? What does it say to you?
Client: (very long pause) I guess it's my voice. It sounds like something I would do. I'm such a jerk.
Counselor/Therapist: You told me whose voice it is, but you didn't tell me what the voice says. Would you talk about this?
Client: (raising his voice) It says, "Get out or you're going to get hurt. She doesn't like you and she'll use you and drop you just like the rest."