7 Characteristics of an Effective Counselor

A woman is talking to her therapist while sitting on a couch,

Mar 02, 2017

For those looking to become a counselor, here is a brief list of skills and qualities good counselors have.

A career in counseling gives licensed professionals the opportunity to help those who are coping with loss, depression, addiction, relationship issues, and other everyday struggles. But in order to be effective, there are many characteristics that one must possess.

Whether you’re a counseling degree student, a licensed counselor, or even if you’re starting your own counseling practice, here are some characteristics of an effective counselor.

Be organized within your practice.

Whether they’re first-time clients or you’ve counseled them for years, organization in a counseling practice is key. Organization of paperwork, scheduling, and personal details will give your clients peace of mind and confidence in your work.

Practice ethically and professionally.

There are many resources for counselors to understand the ethics of the profession. Some resources include the 2014 American Counseling Association Code of Ethics, ASERVIC competencies, and mental health state statutes.

Educate yourself.

If you are on the path to earn a degree in counseling, you’re already moving forward with one of the most important ways to become an effective counselor. Another great way to gain experience is to attend a counseling conference, such as the ACA Conference. Study hard, ask a lot of questions, and get all the experience you can while earning your undergraduate or master’s in counseling.

Be confident in your position and responsibility.

Whether you’ve been a licensed professional counselor for 20 years or you’re new to the profession, you must maintain confidence in your work. A client is looking to you for help, so use your education and experience assuredly. Good clinical supervision is also suggested.

Be respectful and non-judgmental.

According to the ACA Code of Ethics, “Counselors are aware of — and avoid imposing — their own values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors” (A.4.b). As a counselor, you must respect each client’s beliefs and struggles, and never assert your personal values or beliefs.

Understand the importance of communication.

Since every client is different, you may have some that need time to warm up to you, while some aren’t afraid to divulge their life story from the start. Understand that communication needs to be personalized to each client.

Have a flexible attitude.

Working as a counselor, you will have to be accommodating. Some clients will be late or may cancel, along with clients that are seeking an emergency session. Possess a flexible attitude to ensure your clients feel safe and understood.


Ready to earn a degree in counseling? Learn more about CCU’s counseling programs.

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