Critical Skills Every Counselor Should Develop

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Counselors are medically licensed mental health therapists who provide guidance and support to people in a wide array of fields, be it educational and career guidance to cope with and treat various mental health illnesses. Therapy or guidance sessions of any kind are generally expensive. Thus, therapists must cultivate specific skill-sets to effectively reach the client and provide the much-needed support while the client experiences a cost-relief service. Some of the skills that every counselor should possess are:

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Multicultural Adroitness

Today, the mass populace seeking therapy and guidance is much larger in volume than ever before. People from all walks of life, age groups, religions, backgrounds, sexualities bring varied issues to the table. Thus, the therapist must be a simulacrum of the most pervasive cultures around. They should be well equipped to handle issues faced by every client. This is possible when the therapist adopts a multicultural worldview and accepts their clients without any judgments based on their ethnicity, race, sex, or age.

Sense of Humor

Wit and humor is a skill as crucial as misinterpreted. Clients come with a lot of emotional baggage, and sometimes a humourous touch to life and its problems seems a healthier way of coping and making the client feel safer. However, this sense of humor should be used with reservations and be completely innocuous for the client because sometimes a joke might trigger the aggrieved in ways doing more harm than good.


Empathy is the ability to put oneself in other’s shoes and experience their situation. A skilled therapist is an excellent empath and helps clients construct and vocalize their emotions, which might otherwise be abstract or undealt with. 

Active Listening

A prolific therapist does use not only his ears but also his eyes for the same. They not only reflect the client’s thoughts but are also bastions of truth. They point when you drivel or make excuses for behavior and keep you grounded to your true emotions. They also keenly note what you may not be saying and help you accept the harsh truths.

Communication Skills

How quickly the client feels at ease with the therapist depends highly on the communication skills used. A therapist in communication should be gentle, accepting, and patient in nature. Such key qualities help the patient in lesser time and build confidence between both parties.

Methodical and Critical Thinking

Definitive diagnoses, treatment options, and backup plans are three keys to which every therapist must not falter. An incorrect analysis can cause a ripple effect on the rest of the treatment, making it severe for the client and the therapist to navigate in the future.


A veteran in this field is like water. They take the shape of their client to help them. Some clients might be stubborn or less experimental to deal with. Thus, the therapist must craft unique and creative ways to break or build habits, enable people to express and benefit in maximum.


Accosting private information from the client in no way is for entertainment purposes. A confidentiality bond must always be in order before starting with the sessions. This bond grants no sumo to disclosure under any circumstance unless the client is trying or is of probable harm to himself or anybody around.

Drawing and Maintaining Healthy Boundaries

Since clients share their personal traumas and issues with their therapist, it is natural for them to feel a sense of attachment and attraction to their therapist. Likewise is a possibility for the therapist to harbor warm feelings for their client. However, this is ethically transgressive, and the therapist should never condone any kind of relationship  (friendly or sexual in nature) outside the room.

two women sitting beside table and talkingThe Therapist Should Therapize Too

Dealing with traumas all day takes a brunt over the therapist’s life as well and may leave them jolted for worse. So, not only is unwinding important, but a therapist should always be on the lookout for their own mental health and must only entertain sessions if they are in a position to help without being affected. If not, it will prove non-conducive for both parties.


About the Author – Khushi Singh is a final-year student at Manipal Institute of Communication.

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