What to Look For in a Therapy Professional

Professional therapists are licensed mental health counselors who provide evaluation, diagnosis, and counseling to people facing a variety of psychological problems and life stressors. They help people with many matters, such as family problems, relationship issues, job stress, mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety, addiction problems, and many other mental health issues that can affect a person’s feelings of well-being and happiness. To maximize their effectiveness, counselors should be people who enjoy helping others and possess specific skill sets and attributes

Communication Skills

Competent therapists should possess excellent communication skills. Some of these skills can be honed during clinical training in graduate school; many are developed and refined over the course of a counselor’s career. Therapists should have a natural ability to listen and be able to explain their ideas and thoughts to others clearly.


Since therapists help clients through some of the most challenging and stressful times of their lives, they must be able to display empathy. Empathy enables a therapist to feel what someone else is feeling. It means that they can imagine what it’s like to inhabit someone else’s shoes. When a counselor has compassion and empathy, clients tend to feel understood and heard.


An accepting and nonjudgmental attitude is an important attribute. Mental health professionals should be able to “start where the client is at.” This phrase describes the counselor’s ability to relate to clients for who they are and in their current situation. Counselors also need to be able to convey this acceptance to their clients.

Problem-Solving Skills

Although it’s not a counselor’s place to solve a client’s problems, he or she must have excellent problem-solving skills. They should be capable of helping their clients identify and make necessary changes to unwanted thought patterns and other harmful behaviors.


In counseling, flexibility is defined as being able to adapt and change responses to meet a client’s needs. Rigidity and sticking to a predetermined treatment plan may not be the best approach. Being flexible is one of the most crucial attributes of a professional mental health counselor.


A self-aware mental health counselor can look within and identify his or her unmet psychological desires and needs to be professionally competent. This ability prevents a therapist’s personal problems from conflicting with or affecting those of their clients. Self-awareness has a significant impact on a therapist’s effectiveness.

Rapport-Building Skills

Therapists must possess strong interpersonal skills to help them establish rapport with clients quickly and develop strong relationships. They must pay undivided attention to their clients and be able to cultivate a trusting partnership. Counselors should have the ability to avoid distraction and place their focus on what their clients are saying when they are in a session. Competent and reputable therapists should be warm, compassionate, and caring advocates who take a genuine interest in what is going on with their clients. This way, clients can feel comfortable with the counselor, making for solid partnerships and more dynamic therapy sessions with long-lasting results.