Characteristics of effective counselors include the ability to listen, exhibit empathy, create relationships and be flexible. A sense of humor and self-knowledge are also needed for counseling.
Listening is essential for effective counseling. It involves more than just hearing the words a client says. An effective counselor can hear tone, see body language and notice the context of the words being spoken.
Without empathy a counselor cannot effectively treat a client. A counselor should understand a client's motivations and needs. Empathy includes responding to a client's feelings with the same level of intensity that the client is expressing. This lets a client know a counselor is fully listening.
Effective counselors create relationships with clients. Counselors are present, assessable, authentic and have a genuine interest in people. Trust between counselors and clients allows clients to openly express themselves and allows counselors to provide feedback.
Flexibility is needed in different parts of a counselor's work. Effective counselors understand emergencies happen. Schedules might change. Counselors are flexible in understanding different clients' backgrounds and experiences.
Counselors often encounter difficult and traumatic stories. Effective counselors know how to use humor appropriately with clients as a therapeutic tool. Effective counselors have an awareness of themselves and know their views, values and health. Counselors must be healthy and well taken care of to effectively care for clients.