Immediacy in Counselling (+Other Counselling Concepts & Techniques)

In this brief guide, we will discuss Immediacy in Counselling as well as other techniques like confrontation in counselling, self-disclosure in counselling, challenging in counselling and type of immediacy in counselling.

Immediacy in Counselling

Immediacy in counselling is an often used technique in which the counselor or therapist has an open conversation with the client with regard to their present moment and the interpersonal moments in their therapy session in particular.

Immediacy in counselling can be something that involves both immediacy including statements and non-verbal communication or body language cues and tonality of voice, all of which are important aspects of an interpersonal relationship, and they affect a person’s behavior in a social setting.

Immediacy in counselling, therefore, is often described as an intervention that is heavily based on experiences and in which the therapy process is based mainly on what is taking place or happening in the moment, the goal of which is to help the client learn from real life experiences as they happen.

For example, when engaging in immediacy in counselling, the counselor might say something to the effect of “I see that when we talk about this person in your life your palm trembles and you look to the floor.”, which the person themselves may not have noticed, and they might when the counselor points it out.

Awareness of maladaptive behaviors or responses is often the first step in getting to a place where someone may be able to fix them or find ways to improve, which is why immediacy in counselling is so very important.

The cliche questions one might often see in the media like questions that revolve around feelings or emotions, or an enigmatic therapist that asks “how does that make you feel” or “what are your thoughts on that?”, are not at all a part of Immediacy in counselling.

In the process of Immediacy in counselling, instead, the therapist picks up on specific cues and acts on those, so that the client has a more objective idea of what they are doing.

Because it gives a person such a unique insight into their physiological and/or emotional responses related to an interpersonal situation, immediacy in counselling is something most therapists might use, and they may particularly use it in therapies that primarily revolve around relationships, like Brief Interpersonal Therapy..

Take for example someone who has just finished describing a confusing relationship with their father and they are displaying behavior that suggests a scared disposition but they are saying that they don’t care about their father anymore or that they are out of his dominance, in this case, immediacy in counseling may be used to make the client aware of discrepancies between what a client reports verbally versus what is visually or audibly available.

Immediacy in counselling may also be used a lot in situations where there is more than 1 client, like in situations of family and couples counseling, where often the clients may be encouraged to take note of what their family member is communicating to them non-verbally, in the present situation, as and when the therapist notes it.

The therapist may also pick up on cues that are suggestive of a maladaptive family atmosphere, and they may point it out to the clients using Immediacy statements so that the client can check the behavior as it happens.

Immediacy may also be used in counselling to check behavior that may be disruptive to the person’s recovery, or when the person is engaging in some thought process that will undo all the other work that has been done.

Along with immediacy, other techniques, tools and worksheets are used to assist clients get to a better place, these could be cognitive distortion worksheets or even gratitude meditation scripts. You can also check the Alber Ellis’ ABC Model.

If you’re facing this, it may be a good idea to seek the help of a therapist or other mental health professional. You can find a therapist at BetterHelp who can help you learn how to cope and address it.

Types of Immediacy in Counselling

There are three main types of Immediacy in counselling, which were described by Egan in 2002, which are as follows:

  • Relationship Immediacy: Involves the relationship of the therapist with the client as it stands in the moment
  • Event-Focused Immediacy: Related to the events in the individual’s life and how they act on them in the given moment
  • Self-Involved Statements: These may be statements by the therapist regarding themselves and the here and no, and they may often serve as a basis for an alternative to the client’s unhealthy behavior or reveal something about the therapist.

Confrontation in Counselling

Confrontation in counselling involves the calling out of the client’s ba or unhealthy behavior in some way, and it makes the therapist able to point out the discrepancies between what the person may be saying or displaying and what they believe or feel in reality.

Through confrontation the negative beliefs of the client may be corrected or an attempt at correction may be made, and the core feature of this process is similar to that of Immediacy, in that it involves current, here-and-now based action rather than reflection or introspection.

Confrontation is not as aggressive or ruthless as it sounds or may be in the real world, it is simply bringing to the awareness of the client their maladaptive patterns of behavior so that they can let go of them and find alternate ways of responding to their environment.

Timing is an important aspect of confrontation as it affects the development of therapeutic trust and a therapeutic relationship, as well as the client’s ability to handle advanced techniques with respect to his or her progress in counseling. 

Confrontation may not be an effective tool when the counselling is in the initial stage of and a therapeutic context does not exist, in which case the client may accidentally or mistakenly misunderstand the meaning and purpose of the confrontation. 

Challenging in Counselling

Challenging in counselling is another type of technique through which the person is made aware of their negative schemas or beliefs, and they are provided alternate ways of thinking as a means of challenging set behavior patterns.

Challenging may also sound aggressive, like confrontation, but the truth is that it engages the person in a dialogue about what else might work for them if they tried, and it gives them possibilities for action that are not detrimental to their mental health.

Challenging may be used most in Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Person Centered Therapy, as both of these are aimed at helping the person change their unhealthy ways of coping and their beliefs about self that may be leading to negative thoughts or behavior.

Challenging a belief may start with the counselor pointing out a problem behavior to a client and starting a conversation about it, like starting with negative self-statements when talking about a particular bad relationship in their life.

The counselor may then move on to what other possible behaviors are possible in that circumstance, and perhaps ask the client to explore ways in which other people they know might approach the same situation, and after this they may try to get the client to talk about why they think they will not be able to behave the same way or act in a better manner, especially if they have the motivation and will to.

Self-Disclosure in Counselling

Self-disclosure in counselling refers to the therapist taking examples from their life to make the point they are trying to make or using some relevant information about themselves to create rapport or help the client grasp a point.

Self-disclosure in counselling is often quite controversial, as many therapists disagree about the degree to which disclosing things about themselves is okay, because sometimes this can change the therapeutic relationship for the worse instead of the better.


In this brief guide, we discussed Immediacy in Counselling as well as other techniques like confrontation in counselling, self-disclosure in counselling, challenging in counselling and Types of Immediacy in counselling.

Counselling is a complicated process that involves many techniques, mostly depending on what the person is going through and what their personality traits are most fitting for.

Confrontation or challenging of beliefs, or even Immediacy in counselling, are all techniques that may find their roots in the school of Cognitive Behavior theory and therapy style.

The point of most techniques like Immediacy in counselling is simply to bring the person more in touch with who they are and help them function better with the resources they already have, rather than force them into learning new patterns or dismantling their old ones.

Aside from the techniques used in counselling, there are also various theories which are used such as the resilience theory.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Immediacy in Counselling

What is immediacy in counseling?

Immediacy in counselling is a process most intimately associated with the style of therapy or counselling that belongs to the Interpersonal Process Therapy school of thought, and according to this concept the counselor may enable the person to focus more on the interpersonal process of the therapy in the session rather than the content of the session itself, so that they may be able to create more sustainable conditions around them in general.

Why is immediacy important?

Immediacy is important because it addresses the chief relationship problems that often interfere with the counseling process, similar to transference in psychodynamic theory, but not as unconscious, and through using this concept in favor of the person and the counselling process. 

Immediacy in counselling is a process through which the counselor is able to draw parallels or examine the key differences between how the client interacts with the counselor and how the client interacts with others, which then leads to the counselor having a better understanding of the person and their resources in dealing with interpersonal problems.

What is an immediacy statement?

Immediacy statements may be considered verbal ejaculations that may be irregular and impressionistic and these statements may primarily be used for assessing the client’s emotional reaction.

The opposite of the immediacy statement may be a genuine dialog between the therapist and the client, in which there may just be an exchange of ideas rather than a careful scrutiny of what the client is like in their interpersonal relationships.

What is relational immediacy?

Relational Immediacy is a process by which the immediate situation of the person is studied in terms of another person, as a means of looking at what is going on between them and others in the relationship.

The primary focus of relational immediacy is on the current situation in the relationship, and the therapeutic relationship therefore explores what the client may be communicating about his or her world in the here and now.

How can you display immediacy?

Immediacy may be displayed in both verbal and nonverbal behaviors, and it may be shown in the form of behavior and in the form of statements, that may often include plural pronouns, use of informal manner of address, displaying openness to the other person, and use of compliments. 

In most cases, displaying immediacy in the non-verbal manner may include simple cues like touch, distance, eye contact, body language, and vocal tone, all of which are cues we use everyday in our relational and interpersonal behavior.


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