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Allen Ivey developed Microcounseling in 1967 with a group of colleagues at Colorado State University[1]. Also termed microtraining, it deconstructs the counseling and therapy interview into clear, discrete teachable units. The microskills have become central to skills training throughout the world with known translations of twenty languages. Prior to the introduction of Microcounseling, the interviewing skills course had remained unclear, diffuse, and taught from many different frameworks. The model has become the centerpiece of communication skills training, not only in counseling and therapy, but also in many fields such as medicine, law, management and sales training, peer and volunteer counselor training, and extending to unexpected areas such as library science and agricultural extension.


The original micro skill and the one with the broadest influence are attending behavior (culturally appropriate eye contact, vocal tone, verbal following, and body language). Attending is now recognized as basic to all listening—in fact, you will see various forms of the original micro skills as part of listening programs and training throughout the popular media, the educational system, and many other areas.  


Allen and his group were the first to use video to examine what occurs during the interview. Prior to that, only wire recording was available. Prior to that, only two-inch unreliable video recording was available. But, the video showed and defined nonverbal behavior (eye contact, body language, movement synchrony) and many other aspects of the interview for the first time. It was the combination of the timely introduction of video to the field, plus the specificity of the micro training framework that changed the field.


[1] Original Colorado State University co-authors/colleagues were Eugene Oetting, Weston Morrill, Max Uhlemann, Cheryl Normington, Richard Haase, and Dean Miller. Mary Bradford Ivey became central in the extension of the model in 1981.

Microcounseling videos are available at this link: 

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Basic Attending Skills Video 


Allen and Mary Ivey with their fellow Microtraining author Carlos Zalaquett


First Skills: 

Basic Communication Skills


This Australian video shows Mary and Allen presenting the basics of the microskills of listening and how the skills relate to neuroscience and the brain. Useful for background on their work and suitable for classroom presentations.

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