Top 5 skills of an effective counsellor

by Maria Onzain
Posted: May 25, 2020

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Effective counselling requires a mutual effort by both the patient and the counsellor. It occurs only when there is cooperation between both parts to share and exchange information, ideas, and feelings. Professional counsellors help people with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, phobias, traumas, drug addiction, emotional disorders, or relationship problems. In this sense, the qualities of a good counsellor go hand in hand with their ability to achieve a high level of trust from their patients.

The ultimate goal of an effective counsellor is to empower individuals to overcome their problems and take control of their lives. Witnessing the evolution of a patient and being part of their personal growth makes this career extremely rewarding and fulfilling. 

If you think you have the natural qualities of a good counsellor, you may want to develop them further by getting the right qualification. An excellent place to start is by studying a Diploma of Counselling with Open Colleges. By enrolling in CHC51015 Diploma of Counselling, you will learn how to manage a therapeutic process. You will also learn all you need to know to help your patients overcome their mental health issues and accomplish their goals. By improving your core counselling skills, you will develop your ability to use intentional counselling techniques. And you will understand how to apply counselling theories to guide your future clients in reaching optimal mental health.

So, what makes a good counsellor? And what are the skills and techniques required for counselling? If you want to become a successful mental health practitioner, you will need to cultivate the following effective counselling skills:

1. Empathy

Being empathetic with your patients means that you are able to imagine what it is like to stand in their shoes. Showing compassion and empathy makes your patients feel understood and heard. This connection will help them open their heart and show their feelings. This process of opening up is the first step and one of the most essential parts of counselling therapy.

2. Communication skills

Having excellent communication skills will be crucial to work as a counsellor. Ideally, you should already be an excellent communicator, and you will have the opportunity to hone your communication skills when studying your Diploma in Counselling. 

As a counsellor, you will need to be articulate in your verbal communications and adopt an optimistic approach to assist your patients in making positive changes. 

Another relevant communication skill all counsellors should develop is the ability to ask the right questions at the right time. This will help you obtain the necessary information to guide the therapeutic process in the right direction.

3. Listening and observing ability

Your communication skills will need to go beyond verbal language. A good counsellor needs to be an excellent listener and observer. In every interaction with your client, a considerable amount of information will be transmitted through body language, facial expressions, and other non-verbal communication. You will need to develop your skills to be able to understand the messages conveyed with body postures, eye movement, use of space and other physical expressions.

This ability to listen and read between the lines is something you will develop with experience. Something that differentiates an experienced counsellor is the ability to pull information from things that are not being said. And this is especially important because typically, what patients omit can be crucial material in the therapeutic process.

4. Respectful and non-judgmental

Effective counselling will be successful when the mental health practitioner can connect with the person who is going through difficulties. And to achieve that connection, it is essential to be respectful and non-judgmental. As a counsellor, you will always need to respect your patients' beliefs and struggles. And you should avoid imposing your own values, attitudes, behaviours, or personal opinions.

5. Flexibility and adaptability

Having a flexible attitude and being patient will be indispensable, as your clients may need to cancel or change appointments. In some cases, they might be late or may require you to be available for an emergency session. Showing your adaptability will help your clients feel safe and understood when they are going through difficult moments.


Maria Onzain

Maria Onzain

Maria Onzain is a journalist and content marketing expert writing for Open Colleges about education, career, wellbeing, and innovation. With a degree in journalism and a master in international marketing, she covers stories on online publications about ed-tech, business, and women. She is passionate about entrepreneurship and all things digital and, in her spare time, she writes on her blog Travel for Food Hub.

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