Personality Characteristics of Therapists


Successful therapists share a number of qualities and personality traits. These characteristics help them work with clients battling depression, recovering from surgery or working out marital difficulties. It’s the soft skills -- or ways that you deal with people -- that make the difference in your effectiveness.

Flexible and Respectful

  • Effective therapists adapt their therapeutic efforts to the needs of their clients. The American Psychological Association believes so strongly in the value of respect that it has issued guidelines about it. These detail ways to help clients from all backgrounds feel comfortable enough to move forward with therapy sessions. Being respectful and sensitive toward cultural differences and varying attitudes is one of the most positive personality traits a therapist brings to the table.

Compassion and Sensitivity

  • Therapists are most effective when they are compassionate toward their clients and sensitive to their feelings. People typically enter therapy when they are in distress and undergoing significant pressure in their lives. Whether their stress is physical or mental, clients need to feel that their therapists understand their difficulties. Compassion comes from empathy and a strong desire to help others, personality traits that most therapists have before they even enter the field.

Patient Listener

  • Effective therapists are inherently good listeners. They possess significant patience to allow clients to unload or unveil their concerns and problems. Trust is an important ingredient for a successful therapeutic session; therapists develop trust by demonstrating a patient demeanor and giving their clients time and space to explain their issues. Strong listening abilities enable therapists to develop effective treatment plans.

Committed and Inspiring

  • The most effective therapists have the kind of personality that inspires confidence. Patients need to feel that there is hope that they will overcome their difficulties and reach a positive outcome to remain committed to the therapeutic process and follow the therapist’s directions. Therapists also must inspire and motivate clients to follow a plan of action to get well. To inspire others, therapists must be committed to the process and be able to communicate their commitment to clients.

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