Effective Communication -Needs Assessment

Exploring and understanding the stages of communication.

CPD Assessments
Effective Communication - Needs Assessment

Effective Communication - Needs Assessment

Case Study 

Bheki Dlamini is an 18‐year‐old male who just finished matric. Bheki sought career guidance from Pumla, because he had become frustrated with the school as they did not provide the necessary assistance in terms of career counselling. He stated that he felt confused and uncertain about how to move forward. He stated, “I need to look at my path but I am not sure where to start”. 

Bheki mentions that he has an elderly grandparent at home and his mother works in another province. He is worried that he is unable to assist his family with their financial concerns. His thoughts are scattered and concerns are varied.

Pumla encourages Bheki to tell his story and helps him to explore and unfold his story. Pumla understands that since Bheki is in the situation, it can be difficult for him to see it clearly or from different angles. With the help of empathic reflections and thought-provoking questions, Bheki uncovers blind spots or gaps in his perceptions and assessment of the situation.

Pumla’s aim is to help Bheki plan the next steps. The strategy is broken into bite-size chunks of action. Pumla works with Bheki to turn good intentions into specific plans with time scales. 

In doing so, Pumla is able to establish what Bheki’s needs are and how to assist him further. Pumla uses the Egan’s helper model as she finds this to be useful in gathering information.

Needs Assessment

There are a number of ways that a career development practitioner can conduct needs assessment with their client. One such way is through Egan’s Skilled Helper Model. 

Egan’s Skilled Helper Model is a three-stage model in which each stage consists of specific skills that the practitioner uses to help the client move forward. 

Stage 1 - Assist the client to explore shared emotions, behaviour, facts, thinking and view of reality. 

Stage 2 – Assist the client in self-understanding by reflecting implied facts and feelings, intuition and insights.

Stage 3 – Assist the client with decision-making, selecting options and planning appropriate steps of action.

The three stages are briefly discussed below:

Exploring Skills (Egan Stage I Introduction)
Exploring the client's Existing Situation
The purpose of Stage I is to build a non-threatening relationship using the Person-Centered Approach and help clients explore their situation and then focus on the challenges. In this stage the practitioner helps the client to identify and clarify problems and opportunities, and assess their resources. Additionally, the practitioner helps to explore new perspectives and challenges negative modes of thinking. The  Stage I exploration stage employs the skills of:
  • Open-ended questions
  • Silence
  • Focusing
  • Empathy
  • Paraphrasing and Reflecting Meaning
  • Paraphrasing and Reflecting Feeling
  • Structuring
  • Summarising
Understanding Skills (Egan Stage II Introduction)
Helping the Client Establish Aims and Goals 
The purpose of Stage II is to help the client in developing a more in-depth and objective understanding of their situation. The practitioner assists the client in exploring options, goals, wants and needs. The client is invited to consider new, realistic possibilities and perspectives. The practitioner assists the client in developing rational decision-making based upon healthy data collection, analysis and action planning.
The Stage II of understanding skills employs the skills of:
  • Recognising Patterns and Themes
  • Alternate Frames of Reference
  • Self-disclosure
  • Immediacy
  • Challenging
  • Timing and Pacing
  • Advanced empathy
Acting Skills (Egan Stage III Introduction)
Help the Client to Develop Strategies
The purpose of Stage III skills is to assist clients to take appropriate action by defining goals, changing ways of relating and working through issues using problem-solving or decision-making methods, while providing support and encouragement. Stage III skills help the client to cope with current problems and assist in the learning of new skills that will enable them to live more effectively in the future. Action is based on exploration and understanding gained by using skills in the first two stages. 

Stage III action employs the skills of:
  • Divergent Thinking
  • Goal-setting
  • Decision-making
  • Problem-solving
  • Programme Choice
  • Evaluating Knowledge of Resources
  • Using Knowledge of How Behaviour is Changed
  • Using Knowledge of How Useful Behaviour is Maintained
  • Teaching skills and Promoting Learning skills
To summarise, the role of the career practitioner, using the Egan’s Skilled Helper model, is to help clients develop the skills and the knowledge necessary to solve both their current issues and ones that may arise in the future. To facilitate client development, the helper model assists to build a healthy union with the client based on collaboration, warmth and acceptance.  The practitioner facilitates the client by helping them to formulate a plan of action, helping them accept their responsibility for becoming a more effective person and helping them to develop their own inner resources. The practitioner also helps their client to transfer newly acquired skills and knowledge to fresh situations; facilitates the process of establishing appropriate and realistic goals (that match their problem-solving skills); encourages them to become self-directive and develop the skills of problem-solving; helps them to build on their inner strengths and to utilise external resources and support groups; and helps clients realise their potential and facilitates them in developing their goals

Shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 2.0 South Africa (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 ZA) 

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Kindly attribute as follows:

Beukes, C. J., Mahadave, K., & Kanhai, K. (2022). Professional Development Portfolio for Career Development Practitioners (1st ed.)CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 ZA, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/za/ 



Karuna Mahadave

Christopher John Beukes

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