Characteristics of the effective counselor Abstract


Characteristicsof the effective counselor


Effectivenessof a counseling process can be measured using a number of criteriasuch as the outcome of a client to show the value of counselingservices. Effective counseling is two way and takes a collaborationof the counselor and the client to influence a behavior or thinkingpattern. To facilitate effective counseling, personal andprofessional qualities are significant. Therefore, for delivery ofeffective professional counseling services, a counselor requires topossess certain professional, as well as personal characteristics.This implies that other than formal academic skills, counselorsshould possess certain human qualities in their professionalism. Thispaper will evaluate what makes a good counselor for an effectivecounseling process.

Counselingis a process that is designed to assist individuals to solve problemsand make choices, the personality of a counselor turn out as thevehicle through which a therapeutic interpersonal relationship iscreated. Additionally, a counselor should have data that relates tothe counselee’s achievement, plans, interests and backgroundaptitudes for effective counseling. Counselor should have the abilityto interpret the clients’ data and knowledge about areas they areseeking assistance. Ultimately, the process of counseling requiresthat both the counselor and the client arrive at a common ground.


Themain characteristic of an effective counselor is compassion. In theirarticle Bowen and Moore (2014), compassion is defined as “afeeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another person who isstricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviatesuffering of the individual or community” (Bowenand Moore (2014). Thearticle has analyzed compassion as a characteristic of an effectivecounselor, particularly in mental health counseling. The authorsanalyzed a qualitative research that involved telephone and face-toface interviews to investigate the history and construct ofcompassion. In addition, this study involved the concept ofcompassion and its implications on mental health counselor who workin diverse backgrounds. The research finding shows that whencounselors interact with clients, their state of being, as well ascapability to stay emotionally present and compassion is oftenaffected. According to Bowen and Moore (2014), there is a personalimpact when compassion and empathy is expressed to a client.Conversely, mental health counselors are expected to cope with thelevel of emotional energy required in therapeutic alliances, andmaintain empathetic responses to stories given by their clients. Forthis reason, counselors are advised to develop tools necessary inhuman service such as ascribing to a value system to avoid suchexperiences. Moreover, counselors should seek support from theirpeers, colleagues or supervisors when they experience compassionfatigue (Bowen and Moore, 2014).


Theother characteristic of an effective counselor is being an activelistener. This is the basic and most significant technique requiredin the field of counseling. An effective counselor should be anattentive listener to what another person has to say, and thus ademonstration of interest and respect. For this reason, a goodcounselor should have the ability to listen without being preoccupiedwith his/her own feelings, attitudes and needs. In his book, Maxine(2013) argues that listening and responding skills should bedeveloped, especially in telephone counseling. This book focused onskills and attitudes required when counseling by telephone.Therefore, in this case, a good counselor is required to askquestions that are more open and reflect, interpret and summarizemore in contrast to how they would carry out a face to face session.The counselor should let out the minimal encouragers and verbalgesturing required in order to allow the client become aware ofhis/her presence at the other end.

Asmentioned earlier in the paper, additional skills or certain humanqualities apart from professional skills are believed necessary ineffective counseling. In his book, Maxine (2013) suggests thatpersonal and social skills are portrayed in the tone of voice used bythe counselor when communicating with the client. This book focusesspecifically in a telephone counseling setting where the authorsuggest that a warm and friendly manner is important to offer awelcome to the client. However, if the counselor is under pressure orfeels tired, this is no good sign to a client and may affect them.

Otherqualities exhibited by an effective counselor include multiculturalcompetency which is necessary in the process of counseling. This isthe ability to adjust counseling theories and approach as techniquesin a manner that is culturally appropriate for a diverse population.It is crucial that a counselor become aware and possess the knowledgeof individual differences in ethnicity, gender, race, culture, andsexual orientation, thus able to work successfully in those diversebackgrounds. A study conducted show that the main predictor ofcounselor effectiveness is the personality characteristics of anindividual. In his book, Sherry King (1993) states that to provehelpful to clients, counselors who are highly skilled naturally ininterpersonal relations should be used to provide therapeuticservices. It is for this reason that is has been clearly recommendedthat when selecting candidates to train as counselor, appraisal oftheir personal qualities is crucial. For a positive outcome, somecore conditions such as congruence are necessary. Congruence meansthat the counselor should be genuine and open in their relationshipwith a client. The developing of a relationship between the clientand counselor in a counseling process is a crucial (Sherry King,1993).

Genuinenessand empathy

Genuinenessis another characteristic of a good counselor where one is requiredto become fully honest and transparent in the course of offeringcounseling services. Another personal quality discussed in this bookis empathy. In his book, Maxine (2013) reiterates that a goodcounselor should be able to sense the inner world of a client andcommunicate his/her understanding to the client. According to Maxine(2013), counselors who portray genuineness, empathy, and warmth arewithout a doubt effective (Maxine (2013).


Unconditionalpositive regard is another essential attitude required in aneffective counseling process. This quality is described as “anoutgoing, positive feeling without reservation and withoutevaluation. It means not making judgments.”A counselor should create a positive feeling that is necessary fortherapeutic change. In his book Maxine (2013), a counselor shouldhave the ability to recognize and respond to the feelings of a clientin a situation where he or she is distressed and not clearlyexpressing themselves. A good counselor should listen to pauses,sighs and hesitations when there is a change of subject. Essentially,is it crucial that a counselor have experience in the detection andworking with a variety of emotions, and must be confident whenaddressing them (Maxine, 2013). Additionally, friendliness isanother characteristic of an effective counselor. A good counselor isexpected to meet their client in a friendly and courteous manner. Theeffective counselor should be able to establish a good rapport withtheir client in order to them feel at ease. Since a client seekingcounseling services may have suffered from emotional problems,therefore an effective counselor should be warm to make the clientfeel acceptable. Simply, a smile from a counselor’s faces radiantwarmth. In addition, some humor can assist rescuing most delicate orsensitive situations. This is crucial and helps a client regain thesight of a bigger picture of the issue.A sense of humor helps aclient to calm down and build up since generally they tend to blowthe situations out of proportion. The other characteristic of a goodcounselor is to show acceptance of the client. It is important that acounselor show acceptance of any client without discrimination andwith dignity. A good counselor should be caring and respectful, andthis may help the client to change therapeutically. Moreover,timekeeping is another professional skill required in effectivecounseling where the counseling session is neither too long to beboring to client or too short (Maxine, 2013).


Aneffective counselor should portray confidentiality in their work.Ethical practice is a quality necessary for a good counselor. Acounselor should be able to apply and hold on the legal and ethicalstandards required in the counseling process. A client should beaware Incase of breach of confidentiality by the counselor. Thus,professional competency is the main quality that a good counselorshould demonstrate. A successful counselor should demonstrate a highlevel of interpersonal skills like capability to communicaterespectfully to colleagues’ opinions. A successful counselor shouldbe able to receive and recount feedback from colleagues andsupervisors (Sherry King, 1993).

Insummary, the effectiveness of a counselor can be measured using anumber of criteria such as the outcome of a client to show the valueof counseling services. As mentioned in this paper effectivecounseling is a process that is two way and requires cooperationbetween the counselor and the client to influence behavior orthinking pattern. Therefore, to facilitate effective counselingservices both personal and professional qualities are significant.This is because a therapeutic interpersonal relationship should bemaintained in order to assist individuals solve problem and influenceon their decisions. Simply, both personal and professional qualitiesrequired for both the counselor and the client to arrive at a commonground are crucial.


Inconclusion, the personality characteristics possessed by anindividuals or counselor generally have an effect on theireffectiveness. Clearly counselors are more influential and perceivedas experts and trustworthy. This paper has analyzed some of thecharacteristics of a good counselor such as confidentialityprofessional competency, unconditional positive regard, genuineness,active listener and compassion. It is important that a counselor usehigh energy levels in order to remain alert and pay special attentionto their clients. At times, counselors may face ambiguity and thusthey should be able to handle it. More importantly, for an effectivecounseling process, the counselor should be able to develop anintimate relationship with the client since the client is expected toshare deep and personal information with them.


Bowen,N. &amp Moore III, J. (2014). Common Characteristics ofCompassionate Counselors: A Qualitative Study. International journalof Advanced Counseling 36:17

Maxine,R. (2013). ProfessionalSkills for Counsellors Series, Volume 3 : Counselling by Telephone: SAGE Publications.

SherryKing, B. (1993). Personality characteristics of peer-assessedeffective counselors

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