Ever wondered what makes a successful and competent counselor? Is it based on what the counselor knows or how many credentials they have? Where did they perform their practice?

While each aspect is significant, a successful counselor is more than theoretical and practical knowledge. Counseling today is more about working with diverse populations, understanding their needs, and determining solutions that breed nothing but happiness and ultimately improve lives. The more successful the process is, the easier it becomes to accept counseling as an effective treatment. 

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To do that, counselors need to be able to strive for perfection and cultivate the characteristics and traits that foster success – for both the professional and the client. So what are these characteristics and qualities? We’re getting to that.

Whether you’re a counselor or someone seeking therapy, learning what makes a good counselor can help you with what you need.

So here are the traits of a successful counselor:

  • They are ethical and have values.

Successful counselors base all decisions on their knowledge of ethics and values. They are aware of the community’s ethical standards and act accordingly. Moreover, the description of laws and regulations about dual relationships with clients and what the appropriate course of action should be in such situations are all required by ethical standards.

Although many people who have attended a weekend seminar or studied a particular therapeutic technique refer to themselves as “counselors,” they are not equal to someone with an actual degree. So if you have an entry-level degree in counseling and need some advice to kick up your practice, earning an advanced degree might help. Thanks to the evolution of technology, you can enroll in a masters in counseling online no GRE and study with flexible hours while maintaining your training.

  • Personal integrity 

A successful counselor upholds a high level of credibility and personal integrity. Counselors are sincere with their patients and with themselves. Counselors are not supposed to accept a client for counseling for which they are aware that they are not prepared. Similarly, they shouldn’t deceive the client or participate in activities with the client to further their interests.

  • Empathy

Another essential trait of a competent counselor is empathy. Some people might mistake empathy with sympathy, but they are mistaken. While empathy is a feeling with an individual, sympathy is a reaction to someone else’s calamity. For the sake of establishing therapeutic rapport, counselors must be able to put themselves in the client’s shoes and feel their struggles and emotions as if they were their own. Patients are more inclined to trust their therapists and follow their treatment recommendations if they genuinely understand what they’re going through.

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  • A sense of humor 

Counselors listen to some horrific, challenging, and frequently traumatic tales. However, it’s OK for counselors and patients to chuckle while going through the process. Timing is crucial in situations like these, but creating a rapport with someone to the point where a sense of humor is exchanged is a talent that shouldn’t be undervalued. Furthermore, humor is a valuable tool in the therapeutic setting, and its usage should be carefully considered.

  • The ability to solve problems

Along with having excellent problem-solving abilities, a competent counselor should also have the ability to think creatively and smartly. Clients frequently seek assistance from counselors for help with particular problems, such as a lack of confidence at work. 

Counselors can assist clients in coming up with ideas for improving their self-confidence. At the same time, they seek possible employers and get ready for interviews. Other times, the goal and the challenges are less noticeable. Some clients experience symptoms of general anxiety disorder and depression but may not be aware of the root cause; instead, they may feel unhappy with their lifestyle and unsure of how to change it. A counselor can assist a client in identifying unpleasant ideas and feelings through a dialogue.

  • They’re organized.

A competent counselor is prepared. They are adept at time management and possess the abilities needed for top executive performance. The beginning, middle, and end of each therapy session are when a well-organized counselor takes notes. They keep track of counseling appointments and follow-up sessions.

  • Non-judgmental

Another trait of a successful counselor is that they are impartial. They never make assumptions about a client’s background, religion, gender, or ethnicity. Despite the variations in socio-demographics, they treat every client with the same respect. To qualified counselors, a case with a history of rape, a patient with depression, and a case with homosexuality are all equally important. Moreover, good counselors do not evaluate their clients based on their tendencies.

  • Exemplary social skills 

Strong social skills are among the qualities of a counselor, which probably goes without saying. It implies that they can communicate effectively and clearly by comprehending the thoughts and feelings of others. Psychoeducation may be given by therapists to clients during treatment sessions to educate them about emotional and mental problems. For them to properly share such information, they need good social skills.

  • Flexibility 

A competent counselor is adaptable in their worldview and has a thorough grasp of multicultural issues in therapy practice. Each client will differ in terms of their biography, experiences, and level of participation in the therapy session. Thus, it is essential to have the ability to switch between perspectives based on the client. Another crucial aspect of flexibility is understanding when a client and counselor may not be a good match. Another quality of a competent counselor is their capacity to communicate when something isn’t working. Then offer to refer the client to another expert who might be able to help them more effectively. A competent counselor should not be able to do everything.

  • Optimism

People may seek counseling during their darkest hours when they believe the future is unclear. One characteristic of a successful counselor is the capacity to maintain optimism and convey to clients that there is a possibility for a brighter future. It is one of the fundamental qualities of good advising.


So these are some of the essential traits of a successful counselor. Remember that effective counseling is based on building a strong and understanding relationship with the patient (or the counselor). As counselors work to maintain it, they can better understand their situation and work towards improvement. A good counselor will tailor treatments to patient needs and improve therapy outcomes.