Whether it is dealing with depressed individuals or sorting out marital problems with a couple, counselors have a tremendous amount of power over their clients. Every single interaction they have during their work can have a significant impact on those on the metaphorical couch. Due to this, the role of a counselor is equal parts constructive and potentially destructive in the lives of those they affect.
Consequently, it goes without saying, that there are certain qualities that a good counselor must possess. So, we sought to list the attributes a good counselor must possess, which could be helpful for you as a client or as the therapist themselves.
Counselors will often get all sorts of people who come to them for help. Many of these people offer do not share similar political, cultural or even moral views with the therapists. Unfortunately, the counselor might find many of these views bad, or even immoral, due to his or her own defense mechanisms. This is precisely why they should have an open mind when dealing with diverse people and not let their personal biases get in the way of the treatment.
This attitude ties in with Humanistic perspective on psychotherapy. Humanism reinforces that counselors should hold their clients in unconditional positive regard, meaning that they should not force judgments of being “bad” on those who they are dealing with.
Psychoanalysis, one particularly dominant school of psychology, recognizes the possibility that a therapist might respond differently to different individuals, based on the latter’s characteristics. This is a process they identify as counter-transference.
To deal with this issue properly, psychoanalysts propose that the counselor should be aware of how they respond to the client. The reason is simple: what they feel about the client or how they react can tell them a lot about the client him/herself!
Good Observational Skills
A counselor should be a good observer. There are only slight changes in posture, facial expression, and voice tones which reveal a lot about the client’s current mental state. A mental health professional who is very observant of these nonverbal cues can attain greater success in the whole treatment process!
Furthermore, this is a way to avoid asking unnecessary questions which could seem bothersome to the client.
Good at Identifying the Elephant in the Room
This is a particularly interesting attribute which has enormous utility to it. Many times, individuals coming for therapy do not feel comfortable telling what bothers them blatantly. There could be many reasons for it and a tiresome array of questions could make the whole process of healing difficult.
However, a therapist which understands the unsaid problem, or the elephant in the room can arrive at a crucial point very fast.
One thing to note here is that this could be jarring for the client as they themselves might avoid arriving at that unsaid issue.
This is where, perhaps, the most important attribute of the therapist comes into play.
Ability to Empathize
The humanistic perspective is an extremely important one when it comes to psychotherapy. In fact, they were the ones who specifically raised empathy to be a cornerstone of therapy.
Empathy, in simple words, is the ability to emotionally identify with an individual. Metaphorically speaking, it is to wear the other person’s shoes for some time.
By empathizing with their clients, counselors can connect with more deeply and allow them to go through the healing process together. This relieves the client from the anxiety they might feel when a disturbing issue is reached. Thus, he or she allows the therapist in and then these issues have a much higher chance of being resolved.