Qualities of a good counsellor

Some qualities that a good counsellor needs to have include respect for the dignity of others, and to have an open or non-judgmental attitude, as well as being empathetic and caring, knowledgeable, honest and sensitive. You will also need to develop self-discipline and learn the skills to become an active listener. To be an active listener as a counsellor you will have to avoid jumping to conclusions about what the client is saying. Box 11.2 presents some other things a counsellor should avoid.

Box 11.2 Things a counsellor should avoid (pitfalls)

  • Directing and leading the ideas of the clients
  • Moralising, preaching and patronising
  • Judging and evaluating the clients
  • Labelling and diagnosing the client's problems
  • Unwanted reassurance
  • Not accepting the client's feelings
  • Interrogating (aggressive questioning) the client
  • Encouraging dependency
  • Advising the client rather than helping them come to their own conclusions.

Knowing what makes a poor counsellor is another way of building up your idea of what counselling is. Look at the pitfalls of counselling in Box 11.2 and try writing another phrase by the side of each pitfall which sums up an aspect of good counselling.

Table 11.1 suggest some phrases, but you may have thought of others.

Table 11.1 Pitfalls for counselling and some alternative phrases for good counselling.

Pitfalls for counsellingAlternative phrases for good counselling
Directing and leading the ideas of the clients Helping the client come to their own decisions
Moralising, preaching and patronising Respecting the views of the client
Judging and evaluating the clients Not being judgemental or evaluating the clients
Labelling and diagnosing the client's problems Being open to the way that the client expresses their problems
Unwanted reassurance Not saying that everything will be alright — unless you are sure that it will be
Not accepting the client's feelings Accepting the client's feelings
Interpreting the client Gentle questioning is more effective than making interpretations
Encouraging dependency Encouraging the client to see that 'soon you won't need me anymore. You will be able to sort out your problems by yourself'
Advising the client rather than helping them come to their own conclusions Explaining to the client that 'I can't tell you what you should do. I'm sure that you will make the correct decision'.
Last modified: Saturday, 28 June 2014, 11:45 AM