Mental Health

8 Qualities To Look For In A Skilled Therapist

Effective counselling skills are required to form a strong bond between a therapist and a client. If you want to seek therapy or know someone who wants to, then knowing what to look for in a therapist is essential.

By URLife Team
08 Feb 2024

Becoming a therapist or counsellor needs mastering of the fundamental skills, some of which are acquired through formal education and training, while others may stem from personal experiences. 


Need all your wellness solutions in one place? A whole new world awaits just a click away.


Therapy, when conducted effectively, requires demanding work. Clients are tasked with delving into their profound emotions, addressing areas of dysfunction in their lives and within themselves, and committing to a course of action while enduring the discomfort associated with change. A therapist assumes the role of offering professional assistance to individuals grappling with a myriad of challenges, including but not limited to stress, addiction, relationship discord, and various personal dilemmas.


Related story: 11 Questions you Must Ask Your Therapist


What Are The Traits of A Good Therapist?

A skilled therapist serves as a guiding facilitator, empowering clients to harness their inherent resilience and strength to realise their fullest potential. Effective communication skills are essential for fostering rapport, conveying empathy, and facilitating meaningful dialogue. At its peak, therapy empowers individuals to transcend past troubles, liberating them from rooted patterns and enabling them to pursue a fulfilling future.


Here are some characteristics of a good therapist:

1. Empathy 

Empathy encompasses the capacity to understand and relate to another individual's experiences, even in the absence of detailed verbalisation of thoughts or emotions. A therapist will give full attention to the client's words, maintaining eye contact, and using reflective listening techniques such as paraphrasing and summarising, therapists convey a genuine interest in understanding the client's perspective. The expert is attentive and nonjudgmental. 

For instance, an individual exhibiting anger may be grappling with underlying sentiments of inadequacy that fuel their emotional response.  For instance, a therapist might say, 

  • "It seems like you're feeling anxious about the upcoming job interview, and that's causing a lot of stress for you." 
  • "It's completely understandable that you feel hurt by your friend's actions. It's natural to feel that way when someone you trust lets you down."

2.  Good communication skills

Having effective communication is undeniably one of the strong qualities in a therapist. Through proficient communication skills, counsellors create an atmosphere conducive to openness and vulnerability, thereby fostering a conducive environment for clients to express their struggles. The ability to engage confidently in sessions, whether in person, online, or over the phone, is paramount, ensuring continuity of care across various modalities. Furthermore, counsellors master the delicate art of probing for additional information without violating the client's boundaries or causing unnecessary distress. 


Related story: How To Find The Best Therapist For You


3.  Observational skills

Observational skills constitute a crucial component of effective counselling practice, extending beyond mere verbal interaction. Unusual behaviours or shifts in behaviour serve as valuable indicators, guiding counsellors in adapting their therapeutic approach and interventions to meet the client's needs.
For instance, a client who exhibits tense body language or avoids eye contact during discussions about a particular topic may be signalling discomfort or distress related to that issue. By attentively noting these cues, counsellors can explore the underlying reasons for the client's response and adjust their therapeutic strategies accordingly.


Related story: Aromatherapy For Every Personality Type


4. Reflection skills

Reflection in therapy is a subtle skill that demands a high level of proficiency from therapists in effectively conveying their understanding to clients. 

Therapists must remain open to corrections and adjustments to their reflections, acknowledging and incorporating the client's input to ensure accuracy and alignment with their experience. Interruptions with reflections should be employed judiciously, only when necessary to clarify or prevent overwhelming the client. Furthermore, reflections are utilised to encourage continued communication from the client, facilitating a natural and supportive flow of conversation. 

5. Trust-building skills

Trust forms the cornerstone of a secure and supportive atmosphere. Without a foundation of trust, the therapeutic process cannot effectively progress. Connection plays a pivotal role in cultivating trust within the therapeutic relationship. Curiosity serves as the source, as great therapists exhibit a genuine fascination with the diverse spectrum of human experiences. By expressing sincere interest in understanding the individual before them, therapists lay the groundwork for building rapport. Clients respond positively to this authentic curiosity, feeling increasingly comfortable, open, and trusting.


Related story: What is Cryotherapy?


6. Being open-minded

As per a 2023 study issued in the Journal of Intelligence, demonstrating open-mindedness with acceptance, curiosity, flexibility, empathy, and validation, fosters a therapeutic environment in people marked by trust, respect, and genuine collaboration. Therapists show genuine interest about their clients' experiences, perspectives, and emotions. By expressing interest in understanding the client's unique worldview and motivations, therapists convey openness to learning from the client and exploring new insights together.


7. Patience

Undoubtedly, patience stands out as a paramount quality for counsellors. The therapeutic journey often unfolds over an extended period, with progress sometimes manifesting gradually over weeks, months, or even years. Furthermore, patience enables counsellors to cultivate a nurturing and nonjudgmental space for clients to explore their thoughts, feelings, and experiences at their own pace. 


8. Knows boundaries

Effective boundary setting provides clear communication with clients regarding the nature and parameters of the therapeutic relationship. This process typically begins during the initial consultation, where clients are provided with disclosure forms outlining the boundaries and expectations of therapy.

Setting healthy boundaries is a learned skill that evolves over time. Therapists must be mindful of their boundary-setting practices, even if they have faced challenges in establishing boundaries in their personal lives or have struggled with codependent tendencies.


Therapists who possess the ability to create a welcoming and supportive environment are better equipped to develop therapeutic partnerships with their clients, laying the groundwork for collaborative exploration and resolution of personal challenges. Through their sympathetic presence and skillful facilitation, therapists empower individuals to venture on a journey of self-discovery, growth, and healing.


Need all your wellness solutions in one place? A whole new world awaits just a click away.



Follow Us On Instagram