5 Characteristics of a Professional Counselor

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Professional counselors are licensed by their state to help patients deal with stress and psychological problems. While having a certification is important, successful counselors must have other attributes, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For a patient to feel comfortable talking to you, you must be able to build a rapport and express empathy. With the right personal attributes, you will be able to develop a sense of trust with the patient and be a better counselor.

1. You Are Self-Aware

Before you can help someone else, you must be able to help yourself first. You would never go to a dentist who has terrible teeth or an addiction counselor who is currently using drugs. Likewise, someone who comes to you for help will want you to be in a good psychological state. Before you become a counselor, address your own fears, weaknesses and insecurities. Once you are aware of your fears, you are better able to handle these feelings and help your patient. In addition, self-aware individuals are often more intuitive about the things a patient needs help with.

2. Practice Patience

Patience is a challenging skill to develop. Few people are born naturally patient, so this skill is often developed over the course of a lifetime. As a counselor, you must be able to help your clients move toward positive changes. This process takes time, so you must be patient and willing to wait as your patient gradually improves. You are unlikely to see major changes happen overnight with any client, so be prepared to wait and celebrate the small victories.

3. Remember to Be Accepting

You may be the only person in your patient’s life that they feel comfortable with. It is important that they feel accepted when they visit your office. Although it can be challenging to be non-judgemental at times, it is one of the most important attributes of successful counselors. Practice being accepting of the people you meet. Greet your patients with warmth and accept them for who they are. It may not be easy at times, but it is necessary to do.

4. Work on Building a Rapport

Throughout your life, you have most likely met people who oozed charisma and charm. While you do not have to be the most charismatic person in the world, you do have to be approachable. Counselors need to be talented at quickly developing interpersonal relationships. They must be able to cultivate trust with their patient and learn how to establish a rapport. From focusing on your client’s problems to listening to their needs, there are many ways that you can quickly and efficiently develop a rapport.

5. Remember to Be Flexible

The techniques you learned in school will not always be effective. Although psychology has advanced significantly in the last few decades, it still does not have a one-size-fits-all approach. While you can try the standard approach with each client, you must be willing to adjust over time. Your predetermined treatment plan must be able to go with the flow and adjust to the patient’s needs.

Related Resource: Top 10 Online Master’s in Counseling Degree Programs

With the right skills and attitude, you can become the professional counselor that clients want. Your entire goal is to help clients overcome their problems, and developing these attributes will help. Even if you do not have these characteristics now, it is always possible to learn them over time.