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.
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.
- Psychology Today: 13 Qualities to Look for in an Effective Psychotherapist
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Therapists
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Recreational Therapists
- American Psychological Association: APA Guidelines for Practitioners
- Photo Credit alexsokolov/iStock/Getty Images
About Physical Therapy Assistants
Physical therapy assistants are an important part of any physical therapist's practice; they perform many duties and support the physical therapist in...
Physical Characteristics of the Jaguar Cat
Jaguars are the third largest feline species in the world, ranking behind lions and tigers. The range of these big cats, who...
Characteristics of a Good Crisis Counselor
Crisis counselors work in diverse settings such as government agencies, community centers, mental health institutions, religious institutions and homeless shelters. Counseling is...
Qualities for a Marriage & Family Therapist
To be qualified as a marriage and family therapist requires not just that you get the right degree, pass the right tests...
Responsibilities of Physical Therapists
Physical therapists assist patients with recovering mobility, flexibility and range of motion lost or damaged due to accident, illness and injury. Physical...
What are the Qualities of a Good Massage Therapist?
Massage therapy can be a rewarding career, both mentally and financially, but it’s not for everyone. People who are trying to decide...
Characteristics of Effective Counselors & Therapists
Some people may believe that being able to give good advice is enough to make them great counselors. However, successful therapists have...
What Personality Traits Help in a Career As a Psychologist?
When you're well-suited for a career, chances are you'll have more success in that career. The skills and personality traits you need...