What are the personal qualities associated with being an effective Counsellor? Counselling theorists and researchers have given this question much attention and research has identified a framework of personal skills which are shared among highly effective counsellors, despite their theoretical orientation.
Self-awareness helps counsellors to understand their client's needs and separate those from personal orientations. Being introspective and in touch with their own issues improves their ability to recognise strengths and weaknesses and to accept them. Self awareness includes the ability to acknowledge your personal values and beliefs, and the potential they may have on your interactions with others.
Effective counsellors are open-minded. They are aware of their own personal values and at the same time must be able to resist forcing their values on clients. This means that counsellors are deeply appreciative and accepting of human differences and do not need to impose their values on others.
Risk-taking means individuals are willing to be vulnerable and take interpersonal risks. Effective counsellors do not hide behind a professional façade. They are willing to be honest and direct with others and are free to challenge clients when appropriate.
Effective counsellors are also able to develop sincere, warm and deep relationships with others. They can prize other individuals - their feelings, their opinions, their persons. This feeling is caring, but non-possessive caring, with little evaluation or judgment.
Transparency involves allowing others to see you as you are. This characteristic results in an attitude of realness or genuineness. Transparency helps to create authentic, honest connections with others, which is the key to effective counselling.
Finally, responsibility for their own actions and behaviours is an important characteristic of effective counsellors. Rather than denying the way they are and blaming others, they can grow from failures and acknowledge their weaknesses.
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Pedro Gondim is a writer and publisher for the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. The Institute is Australia's largest counsellor training provider, offering the internationally renowned Diploma of Professional Counselling.