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Skills - OARS

Skills to Support Discussion

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  • These skills provide your core tools. Their selective use enables you to build up a partnership with the client and to guide the conversation.
  • Learning to listen and provide reflections is crucial and takes practice and reflection on practice.
  • Your most common response should be a reflection.
  • Good reflections should increase the time spent talking by the client.

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Open questions

  • Questions which do not invite one word answers:
    •  “What would you like us to talk about?” 
    • “How did you first start drinking?” 
    •  “What would change in your life if you stopped smoking?” 
    •  “How do you think that related to .....?”

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  • Affirmations should be genuine and usually directed at something specific the client has done, or an appreciation of strengths or behaviours.
  • “I can see that stopping smoking/making changes is important for you.”

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  • Reflective statements restate the client’s comments using language that accurately clarifies and captures the meaning of what the client is saying.
  • The inflection at the end of the reflection should be downward, otherwise it will sound like a question.
  • Enables the client to amend or confirm what they have said.
  • The practitioner can direct the conversation and focus by selectively choosing what to reflect.
  • Simple reflections
  • Rephrasing
    • Slightly rephrases what has been said
  • Complex reflections - paraphrasing/ reframing
    • A more major rephrase, reflecting the meaning in what was said. Adds to and extends what was said.
    • Can be a double-sided reflection if exploring ambivalence. The use of “and” rather than “but” can change resistance.
    • Can amplify a reflection, in which the client is likely to take the opposite view.
  • Reflection of feeling
    • This is a deeper reflection which emphasises the emotional dimension of what has been said.

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  • In summary statements the practitioner selects several pieces of client information and combines them in a summary.
  • Can be used to:
    • Make a transition to another topic
    • Invite more material
    • Check accuracy
    • Highlight ambivalence
    • Lead into evocative questions and elicit change talk
      • “What does this mean to you?” 
      • "How will you deal with this...?”

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Last Updated: 21 July 2020