What Personality Traits Are Essential to Be a Great Psychologist?

If you enjoy learning what makes people tick and genuinely care about others, you might have the personality characteristics of a psychologist. The character traits that make a good psychologist are many and varied. The list becomes more complicated when you begin to consider the many different types of specializations available to psychologists. A researcher needs different personality traits than a clinician, and an industrial psychologist needs to have a different skill set than a counseling psychologist. Let’s take a look at some of the characteristics necessary for success as a clinical or counseling psychologist.

Unconditional Positive Regard

The term “unconditional positive regard” was popularized by Carl Rogers, a humanistic psychologist who used this term in his book On Becoming a Person. Today, this concept, which encompasses the idea of remaining non-judgmental toward another person while continuing to provide love and support, is still considered a cornerstone of successful psychotherapy. Successful clinicians practice unconditional positive regard toward all their clients—young, old, rich, poor, happy, sad. While learning to give unconditional positive regard to others takes practice, some people will be more successful at it than others. If you tend to judge others harshly or become unkind when someone does something of which you disapprove, becoming a clinical or counseling psychologist may not be for you. If, however, you have a knack for seeing other people’s side of an argument, forgiving others and giving grace to those in need of it, you might have what it takes to become a great clinician.

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An Understanding of Balance

Balance is important to all psychologists, regardless of what specialty they choose. In a clinical setting, psychologists must regularly balance between emotion and reason while working with clients. They must also establish clear boundaries while remaining flexible in specific situations. They must balance carefully between their private and professional lives, and they must constantly evaluate the importance of knowing with the value of not knowing details about client’s lives and situations.

Other Important Traits

There are also several other essential personality characteristics of a psychologist who works in a clinical setting. These include

  • Being a good listener
  • Discretion
  • An inquisitive nature
  • Self-knowledge
  • Comfort with diversity
  • Emotional stability
  • Acute problem-solving skills

However, if you struggle with one or two of these things, don’t use that as your only basis for not pursuing a career in psychology. If you are a non-judgmental, caring person who has a few emotional hang ups of your own, you could work through those hang ups and become a great clinician. If you care about others but like to talk, you can learn how to become a better listener as you proceed through the training process to become a counseling psychologist.

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There are many different types of psychologists, but there are a few character traits that are essential for anyone wishing to become a psychotherapist or counseling psychologist. Now that you’ve learned about the personality characteristics of a psychologist, do you think you have what it takes to enter this profession?