Approaches to counselling

Some counsellors use the 'GATHER' approach to counselling and find it effective. You should read this next section and think how you will be able to use these points in your own work.

  • Greet the individual people you are working with by name: show respect and trust, tell them that the discussion is always confidential.
  • Ask about their problems as well as listening to any measures they have already taken to solve the problem. Ask them how they believe that you can help them.
  • Tell them any relevant information that they need to know.
  • Help them to make their own decisions and guide them to look at various alternatives. Help them to choose solutions which best fit their own personal circumstances.
  • Explain any misunderstandings. Ask some questions in order to check your understanding of important key points and repeat those key points in their own words if necessary.
  • Return for follow-up and make arrangements for further visits, or referral to other agencies. If a follow-up visit is not appropriate then you should give them the name of someone they can contact if they need help.

Box 11.3 is a tick list you can use while you are following the GATHER approach:

Box 11.3 Tick list for counselling

Use simple language avoid any technical words.
Make your advice as simple and specific as possible. For example, instead of saying 'Practice good hygiene' you could say, 'Wash your hands before preparing your baby's food'.
Give information in organised ways — for example, I am going to tell you three things: the first is… the second is… and the third is …
Give the most important information first and repeat it at the end.
Check whether the main points have been understood by the person you have been counselling.
Provide reminders (for example leaflets or other health education resources with key points) for the person to take away.

Mrs Aster is a Health Extension Practitioner. She is working in Adame Tulu kebele. On her home visits, she gives counselling to married women about how to prevent unintended pregnancy. How could she use the GATHER approach during her counselling work?

Show answer

First she should greet the individual clients by name (G), then ask about their problems as well as listening to any measures they have already taken to solve the problem (A). She should tell them any relevant information that they need to know in order to help them to make a decision (T) and help them to look at the various alternatives (H). Then she should explain any misunderstandings that have occurred (E). The client should be encouraged to return for follow-up and to discuss any other issues that arise (R).

Last modified: Saturday, 28 June 2014, 11:46 AM