According to Corey (2004) counseling is a form of psychotherapy, usually far more brief in the length of time clients receive in traditional psychotherapy, that aims to assist people who are experiencing problems in a variety of areas including relationship problems, academic/school related problems, depression, anxiety, trauma, and issues from the past that negatively affect the person's daily functioning. Meier and Davis (2004) note that counseling uses several basic methods such as active listening, providing feedback , confrontation, questioning strategies, and so forth. One of these methods is silence (Corey, 2004).
We can assume that silence means different things to different people, and that it can communicate many and different things. Silence can, so to say, be 'used' in various ways. We can, for example, elect to be silent, but in some situations silence is imposed, as one cannot find words to respond. Irrespective of the reason for the silence, one can emphasize that a non-message is also a message--the silence tells us something. (p. 41)
The purpose of this paper is to examine the use of silence in counseling, emphasizing the types of messages that can be communicated with silence, the number of times silence is typically used in a counseling situation, and the factors that allow clients to discern the various meanings that silence is used to convey.
Frequency of Silence in Counseling and How Therapists Use It
According to Lane, Koetting and Bishop (2002), there have been no formal studies of the average amount of times counselors use silence in therapy which makes sense given that this can vary depending upon client characteristics, the degree to which the client-therapist relationship has been established, and so forth However, the authors feel that, typically, there are at least a few moments of silence during every counseling session. In the majority of cases, these periods of silence are associated wit...