Counselling interventions and technique ideas (A comprehensive guide)

Counselling interventions

In this blog post, we discuss what is counselling, and you will also find some examples of counselling interventions for kids, schools, teenagers, ADHD, trauma and family. 

Counselling interventions and technique ideas (A comprehensive guide)

Why are counselling interventions important? 

Counselling, in very simple terms, is a type of relationship in which a specialized person provides help, upon request, to a person who is going through a more difficult period of his life.

There are several types of counselling: psychological counselling, educational, career, legal, real estate, business, Christian counselling. 

Counselling is a proactive relationship that triggers a change, it is a help-oriented relationship from counsellor to client, a relationship with a limited duration. 

The purpose of counselling interventions is:

– self-knowledge and self-discovery 

– personal growth and development

– assuming responsibilities for the decisions taken

– self-acceptance and acceptance of others

– positive relationships with others

– increasing the degree of tolerance to frustration

– improving physical and mental health

– inner well-being

– discovering the joy of living.

Below you will find some examples of counselling interventions for kids, schools, teenagers, ADHD, trauma and family. 

Counselling interventions for kids

Depending on the child’s age, the techniques used are different. Young children should be involved in play activities, drawing, storytelling, modelling, etc. – used for therapeutic purposes. In a safe and attractive environment,  the child has the opportunity to feel understood and accepted, to capitalize on his own resources so as to face the challenges that may arise. 

It is very important to involve the parents in the counselling process as well,  because parents represent the most important resource and example for their child.

About Me Sentence Completion 

This exercise will help your child get to know himself better, but also to develop his confidence and self-esteem.

Some examples of sentences that can be completed:

  • My favourite memory is …
  • I like to …
  • My parents are proud of me when …
  • At school, I know best to …
  • What sets me apart from other children …

Help your child finish these sentences speak about what he/she wrote. If it is difficult for them, remind them of what they can do well, why they should be proud of themselves and love themselves for.

Game: My own story

Ask your child if he wishes to create a story together. It will be up to you to guide him, but he will be the actual creator of the story. Tell your child that the story will be more interesting if you draw it. Take a sheet of paper and divide it into 6 boxes. As the story unfolds, the child will draw something in each box.

Box #1:  First your child will have to choose who will be the hero of the story. After choosing it, ask him to draw it in the first box, and to describe it in as much detail as possible (what powers he has, what he looks like, what he likes to do, where he lives, etc.).

Box #2: Tell your child to think about the hero’s mission, which is a great task that he must complete. After the child has decided what the hero’s mission is, ask him to think of an object or a character representative of that mission, and to draw it in box number 2. 

Box #3: The hero leaves to fulfil his mission. But it is well known that in any quest there are obstacles: either there are negative characters or there are all kinds of difficulties. Encourage your child to create obstacles in the way of the hero. As the child describes the obstacles that arise, ask him to draw them in box number 3.

Box #4: Tell the child that in any story, even if obstacles arise, there are always characters who must help the hero. Ask him to think of other characters to help him, and to describe them as much as possible. Also, ask him to draw them in box number 4.

Box #5: Every story has a climax, namely the great confrontation between good and evil. Encourage your child to describe in as much detail as possible how the final battle unfolds, how long it lasts, how difficult it is. Tell the child to choose a battle scene and draw it in box number 5.

Box #6: Each story has an end. Ask the little one how this story ends?  Does the hero manage to complete his mission or not? What happens to the hero in the end? What about the negative characters?  After the child has described how the story ends, ask him to draw the hero in the last box as it looks now, at the end of the story.

Counselling interventions and technique ideas (A comprehensive guide)

Good night game: Gifts of the day

This game is simple, but must be done several times to see its benefits. It is best for you and your child to play it daily, preferably in the evening. When the agitation of the day has subsided and the little one is getting ready to go to bed, suggest that you think together about the day that has just passed.

One by one, say what things you enjoyed most during the day. Obviously, most of them will be small things but mention anything that comes to mind, even if they seem insignificant. Such things can be a pleasant conversation with someone, good food, useful information, a successful activity, seeing a friend, receiving a gift, good news, a plan for the future.

From the things you enjoyed during the day, choose three more general things for which you are grateful. You may feel grateful for very general things (for example, that you are healthy, that you have a close family), or for more specific things (for example, that you managed to read a few pages of a book, that your food was delicious).

In the end, think of each person you are grateful for, and on the next day, show your gratitude with words or a gesture of thanks.

Counselling interventions for schools

School counselling is constantly evolving and transforming, and school counsellors can be an important resource in education. School counselling aims to develop interests, higher motives, taste for beauty, psychological training, positive feelings and attitudes. It aims to prepare the student for social integration.

My Portrait

Each child receives a piece of paper and must divide it in 4 equal parts. Students complete the quadrants following the tasks:

  1. One positive quality – the most important;
  2. One negative quality – which he wants to change;
  3. One thing he does very well, a hobby.
  4. Something that he would like his colleagues to know about him.

The counsellor must then fix the papers on the board according to the children’s interests. The children together with the counsellor must realize what the children have in common and what new groups of discussions/friends may be made. 

In the eyes of my colleagues

The counsellor must divide the class into groups of 5 students each.
Each child receives a piece of paper which they must sign. 

The children will draw their hand and then pass the drawing to a colleague in their group.  

The colleague must write on each finger:

“I like that you are …”

“I like that you know …”

“I like that you can …”

“I like that you manage to …”

“I like that you want to …”

After completing the statements, they send the drawings in a circle, until it returns to their owner.

Only a few answers will be read and posted on the board.

In conclusion, together with the students, the counsellor will highlight the qualities of the students.

Closing exercise

At the end of the class the counsellor will say: 

“If you want to be respected by your colleagues, teachers, parents, you must

have a civilized behaviour, to be honest, and respectful with each other, to help each other.”

Example of activity “The enchanted microphone”.

Students will receive an “enchanted microphone” and answer the following questions:

  • “What did you like today in class?”
  • “What did you learn today?”
  • “What did you learn new about your colleagues today?”
Counselling interventions and technique ideas (A comprehensive guide)

Counselling interventions for teenagers

Adolescence is an important moment in the development of the individual. This period is accompanied by significant changes both physically and mentally. Misunderstandings, conflicts between generations generate permanent tension between parents and adolescents.

Here are some exercises that can be done both in class and at home: 

The emotional map

It helps students track their emotions throughout the day. Each student can have a sheet of paper in the form of a thermometer, with gradations and emotions from the negative pole to the positive pole. Every hour, the child can write down the emotions they feel, and at the end of the day, reflect on their emotional map.

The three good things 

This exercise involves asking students at the beginning of the day or at the end of the day what are the three most beautiful things they saw before they got to school or the most beautiful things that happened to them while they were at school.

Identify your own strengths.

Each student is given the mission to ask their friends, colleagues, teachers and parents what their qualities and strengths are. Write down everyone’s answers on paper.

Breathing Exercises and Relaxation Techniques.

Depending on the situation, adolescents may be taught to use breathing exercises to calm down. 

Visualization, breathing and body awareness exercises can greatly help the emotional state of adolescents. In addition, it will give them a sense of control over their own state, thus increasing their self-confidence.

Counselling interventions for ADHD

The most appropriate therapeutic approach in Hyperkinetic Attention Disorder (ADHD) is the multimodal one, in which there is a multidisciplinary approach: medical, psychological and educational. Studies on the long-term effects of therapeutic intervention have shown that the best results were obtained in children who received both types of intervention simultaneously (both drug and behavioural interventions).

Exercises and games that can be used to calm and improve the abilities of children with ADHD:

Relaxation and positive visualization

Combine simple relaxation techniques (such as deep breathing) with positive images. In other words, help the child to visualize, to practice mentally, that he/she is well behaved in class. Roleplay is appropriate in this situation. Slowly, the child will develop new skills.

Crosswords or picture puzzle

Crosswords improve the ability to follow sequences. The picture puzzle develops attention and concentration. Similar images (where the little one has to discover the differences) or images with hidden objects (to be found by the child) can be used.

Earth, water, sky

We establish the locations with the child: on the right is the water, on the left the sky, and in the middle the earth. The parent will point in the right direction and the child will have to sit in the right place. Sometimes the parent will point the wrong way: he will show them another place than he shouted. The game will help the child to operate with information of various types, to develop working memory and focus attention.

Finger Twister

We prepare for the child a sheet of paper with coloured circles of different sizes. We give him different instructions: put a finger on a red circle, put your index finger on a blue circle, etc. We can increase the complexity of the game if we see that he manages to follow the instructions (put the ring on his left hand on a small green circle). This game can help improve concentration, memory and encourage control over impulsive behaviour.

Counselling interventions and technique ideas (A comprehensive guide)

Counselling interventions for trauma 

Despite different approaches, a common goal of all counselling interventions for trauma has emerged, and that is restoring and improving the individual’s ability to adapt and cope with unforeseen, stressful future situations.

Systematic desensitization.  

Systematic desensitization helps the patient to relax or to behave in a way that is incompatible with the onset of anxiety in the presence of imaginary or real anxious stimuli. 

 The method is structured in three stages: learning to relax (in the first six sessions);  establishing hierarchies (the counsellor establishes a hierarchy of anxiety-generating situations);  the desensitization process (the counselled person relaxes with his eyes closed, while the counsellor describes scenes in which anxiety-generating stimuli appear progressively; the exercise ends when the subject states that he feels anxiety) 

The system of systematic desensitization is effective in the therapy of phobias and anxiety disorders, and ineffective in counselling people with learning difficulties in relaxation or in the case of subjects with imaginative disabilities.

 The assertive technique (assertive training). 

Assertive training helps the client to express his thoughts and feelings openly and appropriately.  Subjects are taught to make direct and less comfortable remarks to others without feelings of hostility or aggression.  The technique is effective in the case of anxious people and those with difficulties in establishing interpersonal contacts.

The technique of “free exposure” or “direct storytelling” 

It is used in order to help the client in overcoming the fierce emotions related to the traumatic event.  The beneficiary is taught to use relaxation and calming techniques.  The psychologist together with the client discusses the history of the traumatic event, describing all its elements.  Basic parts of story include: context, facts, emotions, and their significance/

 The purpose of telling a traumatic story is not just to express emotions, but to also accept what has happened. 

Counselling interventions and technique ideas (A comprehensive guide)

Counselling interventions for families 

The different schools of family therapy have in common the belief that regardless of the origin of the problems and regardless of whether they are considered to be individual or family-related, finding solutions together can bring great benefits.

 The involvement of all the family members can be achieved by their direct participation in therapy sessions. The therapist must have the ability to influence conversations, so as to catalyze the positive aspects of the relationship.

The talking drawings

For this activity, you will need pencils or markers and some sheets of paper.

Both the parents and the child have to create a drawing (about anything), and then each one has to tell the other as much as possible about that drawing as if the drawing were presented: what colours did they use, what each drawn shape represents, and so on.

The purpose of this intervention is for each member of the family to learn to listen, to have patience while the other speaks, to learn assertive communication.

Make a bucket list for next week 

Each family member should write down a list of 10 things they would like to do next week. The goal is to try some of the favourite activities of each family member.

Together you can make a program, and thus you will ensure that you will spend more time as a family, and everyone will be satisfied.

Improvisation games

Another type of game that is extremely valuable is the Improvisation game. Here are just a few of its benefits:

  • You get to know your limits, abilities, values, the way you make decisions, some aspects of your personality.
  • You develop social and cognitive skills (concentration, reaction speed, logical thinking, attention, etc.)
  • Become more tolerant, empathetic, flexible in thinking
  • Test and develop your imagination and creativity, teamwork, self-confidence, self-improvement
  • It makes you face the fear of making mistakes, the feeling of embarrassment and the tendency to blame
  • Children get the courage to try new things and the desire to assert themselves 
  • The child learns to work within a group and according to a system with rules, understands the risks and implications that his decisions may have
  • The parents can gain the trust and the friendship of the little one.

Conclusions 

In this blog post, we discussed what is counselling and why it is important. We also gave you some examples of counselling interventions for kids, schools, teenagers, ADHD, trauma and family. 

These counselling intervention ideas can be practised either at home, at school or at the counsellor’s office.

Let us know if you’ve tried one or more of our suggestions and if you had any insights or if you noticed any positive changes after doing the exercises. 

FAQ about Counselling interventions

What are the interventions in counselling?

The interventions in counselling are:

– optimization, development and self-knowledge (eg coaching);

– subclinical psychological problems;

– health education, primary prevention;

– secondary, tertiary prevention, recovery;

– solutions for couple and family problems.

What are examples of therapeutic interventions?

Some examples of therapeutic interventions are hypnotherapy, dance or music therapy, play therapy, art therapy, etc. 

What are the different types of interventions?

There are several types of interventions in psychology:

– crisis counselling and assistance to terminally ill patients

– optimization and personal development, self-knowledge (eg coaching);

– short-term therapies focused on the problem, tertiary prevention, recovery and re-education (individual, group, couple and family);

– standard relaxation and suggestive therapies;

– counselling (eg through behavioural techniques) specific to medical objectives (eg increasing adherence to treatment, lifestyle changes, preoperative training, tertiary prevention in chronic diseases, etc.);

– conflict management and negotiation.

What are the basic counselling skills?

Some of the basic counselling skills a good counsellor must have are empathy, intuition, being a good listener and respecting the rules of confidentiality, the ability to socialize, to communicate easily with others, morality, honesty and authenticity are must-have qualities for a counsellor. 

What are the five stages of counselling?

There are considered to be five major stages in counselling: The initial disclosure stage, the exploration stage, the commitment to the action stage, the intervention state and the termination stage.

What happens during a Counselling session?

During the first counselling session, the therapist can start by introducing himself in a few words, after which he will ask questions to the client. Most of the time, it starts with the reason or reasons why the client decided to come. It is very important for the rest of the process for the therapist to find out if the person is there on their own initiative or was sent by someone else, just as it is important if they have come to understand themselves and find out what they need to do different or came up with the idea of figuring out how to change others.

Further reading

  1. Guided Imagery: Creative Interventions in Counselling & Psychotherapy
  2. A Therapeutic Treasure Box for Working with Children and Adolescents with Developmental Trauma: Creative Techniques and Activities
  3. The Creative Toolkit for Working with Grief and Bereavement: A Practitioner’s Guide with Activities and Worksheets 
  4. Intervention in Occupational Stress: A Handbook of Counselling for Stress at Work
  5. Character Strengths Intervention Cards 2020
  6. Advanced Skills and Interventions in Therapeutic Counseling 

References

Roberts AR, Yeager KR (2009): Pocket guide to crisis intervention, Oxford University Press, New York. 

Vygotsky L., (1962) A metaphor for Language Theory and Learning, Cambridge, Mass, MIT Press

Yahle A.K., Wambold, Clark (1998), An ADHD success story: strategies for teachers and students. Teaching Exceptional Children, vV30 no 6, p 8-13

Counselling interventions and technique ideas (A comprehensive guide)

Nadejda Romanciuc

Nadejda Romanciuc holds a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and a diploma in Addiction studies. She is part of the Romanian Association of Integrative Psychotherapy as a psychotherapist under supervision. She's practicing online counselling for over two years and is a strong advocate for mental health.