Unit 2 – Basic Clearing

Basic Clearing is an assessment tool to obtain a holistic overview of a person’s life situation and to see where and to what extent there is a need for counselling in relation to a specific goal.

Basic Clearing can be a starting point for the counselling approach of EJO4Youth or it can also be used as an intensive counselling instrument at any point in a longer counselling process. People can visualise very clearly in which areas of life they feel safe and in which they do not, in relation to their goal.

With this intervention, people can also work out initial ideas for possible solutions, or if there are indications of topics for further counselling processes. This counselling processes can be carried out with the other interventions of the EJO4Youth approach, detailed in the upcoming units.


Learners know how to:

  • explain the benefits and name the goal of working with “Basic Clearing”
  • describe the methodology and to work efficiently with the “Basic Clearing” concept
  • work independently with their clients on goal clarification
  • use the material to guide their clients through this important first step of the counselling process


Learners are able to:

  • act independently to help their clients define their individual goals by encouraging them to choose symbols for the relevant aspects
  • support the client in developing an action plan
  • conduct the counselling interview independently, to be able to determine together with the client the level of counselling required after the “Basic Clearing”


Learners have the competence to:

  • independently prepare and structure the “Basic Clearing Process” in order to guide clients through this process professionally using the material
  • actively initiate sessions with other practitioners/colleagues to practice the method, to exchange experiences and to inform each other about results.

Basic Clearing

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, at mei dolore tritani repudiandae. In his nemore temporibus consequuntur, vim ad prima vivendum consetetur. Viderer feugiat at pro, mea aperiam

The materials


The work pad is structured like an atom, with a goal at the center and relevant aspects of the person’s live surrounding it. These relevant aspects of life can be adapted to the client’s situation. For example, the areas of ‘education & training’ and ‘work/volunteer experience’ could be combined, and other field like ‘leisure’ or similar can be added.

It is also possible to write the goal and the aspects of life on round papers. In the counselling session on the following picture, the client experienced the flexibility with the moving areas of life as very pleasant, as she could also make changes in the arrangement. The new arrangement was very helpful in developing the solution ideas.


Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, at mei dolore tritani repudiandae. In his nemore temporibus consequuntur, vim ad prima vivendum consetetur. Viderer feugiat at pro, mea aperiam.

3 different sticks

3 different sticks with the meaning of “solid ground”, “thick ice”, and “thin ice”.

  • Solid ground: Feeling stable and safe.
  • Thick ice: Feeling somewhat stable and safe but some areas are unsure.
  • Thin ice: Very unsure of the area.

Relevant aspects must be adapted to the person ‘s situation and could be:

  • Living
  • Support
  • Health
  • Education
  • Work/ volunteer experience
  • What else?
  • Free time
  • Values ….

As a rule, we determine six relevant aspects with the client. Please always use the aspect ‘what else?’ as this is often used to refer to special and important things or things not covered in the 6 aspects.

Some aspects need to be explained: for example “living” stands for:

  • How satisfied are you with your housing situation?
  • How reliable and predictable is it?

The area of “Support” refers to support from family, friends, the support system or other people in your private or professional life.

Process of counselling with the Basic Clearing

  1. Presentation of the intervention
  2. Starting point: Goal setting
  3. Choosing symbols for each aspect
  4. Evaluate each aspect
  5. Counselling session – clarifying their concerns

Step 1 – Presentation of the intervention

The EJO4Youth practitioner explains the intervention to the client: the idea, the material and the counselling steps.

Step 2 – Starting point: goal setting

The client discloses his aim to the practitioner, and chooses one or more symbols for his aim. They put the chosen symbols in the centre of the page. In some cases, the practitioner and the client may need to clarify or reformulate this goal if it is too unclear, unachievable, or not appropriate.

Step 3 – Choosing symbols for each aspect

As the client works through the sheet they select symbols that they feel represent each of the areas on the page relevant to their own lives. In some cases, clients may leave some areas without a symbol, which also gives certain meaning. In this phase the counsellor (and the group) leave the client alone to think about the symbols.

Step 4 – Evaluate each aspect

To evaluate each area, the young person is invited by the practitioner to assess their personal situation in each aspect of life. To make this visible, the young person then chooses to lay pathways between each aspect with symbols and their goal, either solid ground, thick ice or thin ice.

  • Solid ground: “I feel stable and safe here; I stand on solid ground.”
  • Thick ice: “I feel somewhat stable and safe but I feel a little wobbly. The ground is somewhat slippery.”
  • Thin ice: “I am very shaky and the ice could break any minute.”

Since in some southern countries the image of “being on thin ice” is not common and clients do not understand the symbolism, project partners in Spain, for example, work with 3 bridges of different stability instead of thick and thin ice.

  • Iron bridge: Solid ground.
  • Wooden bridge: Somewhat stable.
  • Rope bridge: This is very shaky…

Step 5 – Counselling session: clarifying their concerns

The practitioner follows the counselling steps with presentation, factual questions, perception, interpretation, agreement and action plan.

Note: there are 2 possibilities when the evaluation with the sticks or the bridges can take place.

It is possible

To do first the evaluation with the sticks or the bridges and then to follow the counselling steps:

  • The client lays down the symbols for the 6 aspects and the 3 stick types alone.
  • then follow the usual EJO4Youth steps of counselling.

To do the evaluation during the counselling steps:

  • lay down the symbols for the 6 aspects alone.
  • come together and follow the usual EJo4Youth counselling steps.
  • ask the client in the EJO4Youth counselling step “Agreement and Action plan” phase to evaluate the aspects and lay down the 3 stick types in the presence of the practitioner or the group.

Both options have their advantages and disadvantages. Which variant is more suitable in each case is often difficult to judge in advance. It may be that the selection of the symbols of the 6 aspects of life is an intensive work of the client and accordingly the presentation.

It is important that the practitioner decides in advance and explains the intervention accordingly.

Have you read all the content of Unit 2 and understood everything? Then you can continue with Unit 23