When someone is searching for a counselor, it is important to know what it is that makes a great therapist. In addition, there are a number of qualifications to consider when beginning the process.
They Care for People and Their Problems
Some may believe that the first and most important thing to look for in a therapist is if they went to good counseling schools, and although that can be crucial, it is not the number one thing to consider. Arguably, the most vital thing to look for in a therapist is their level of care for people and their problems.
A great therapist will be easy to talk to and enjoy the time with their clients. There should be a high level of interest in the client and their background. Since therapy emphasizes building trust, finding a trustworthy mental health professional is one of the most important things when searching.
A foundational skill a great therapist must have is strong listening skills. Instead of interjecting their opinions and advice in the middle of their client’s talking, they sit back and listen carefully to what they say. They then will help their client look back at what they had said so they can hear it back. A good therapist will also ask questions to show a new side so the client can conclude.
They Are Observant and Authentic
Along with active listening, a good therapist is listening to what their client does not say and being able to point those out. This also requires excellent observant skills. They will notice the client’s body language and mannerisms as they speak. While recognizing these, the counselor can help them understand themselves better by observing these.
There also needs to be a high level of authenticity. Therapists are also human and should not aim to give off an air of perfectionism and that they have answers to all the questions and concerns. This can be considered manipulative and cause a client a difficult time relaxing during the sessions. No one is perfect, and as soon as that mask slips, the client will lose trust in the therapist and inevitably leave.
They Are Reliable and Ethical
Also, when a person is searching for a therapist, they want to know they will be reliable. There needs to be clarity on when the sessions will take place. If they need to cancel, they will do it well in advance and begin the sessions on time.
Another meaningful sign is a high level of ethics. A therapist is not a friend. If a mental health professional is trying to meet with clients outside of their sessions, buying gifts, or making comments about their client’s body or looks, that is a terrible sign. A great therapist should never push personal boundaries. There should also be no signs of sexism or racism and high respect for their client’s privacy. No person working in mental health should ever share personal information with anyone.
Admitting a person needs therapy is challenging on its own. However, finding a great therapist should not have to add to the difficulty.