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5 Qualities That Makes an Ideal Mental Health Counselor 

A mental health counselor is someone who helps people with their emotional problems. They can work with individuals or groups, and they often use therapeutic techniques that address concerns such as anxiety and depression. 

Counselors might have different backgrounds. Some might have a degree in psychology, while others may have studied social work or counseling. To help you understand what makes an ideal mental health counselor, here’s a list of all the qualities they should possess. 

#1 Empathy

There are almost 600,000 mental health professionals in the United States. However, not all of them are empathic, which is one of the most necessary virtues of mental health professionals.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. It’s crucial for a counselor because it helps them connect with their client, which leads to a deeper understanding and relationship. 

Empathy is not sympathy, though. Sympathy often implies pity or condescension towards someone’s problems, while empathy allows you to truly feel what someone else is going through. It’s not natural talent, either. Empathy can be learned through compassion training or simply by observing other people’s actions in everyday life. 

#2 Academic Knowledge

One of the first things that you need to be aware of is that your counselor should have a lot of academic knowledge. In fact, this is one of the most important qualities that you should look for in your mental health counselor. The reason why this is so important is that they will not only give you advice on how to solve your problem, but they also know what steps need to be taken and which treatments are best suited for different types of issues or problems.

Mental health professionals should have a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in mental health counseling. If not both, they should at least have a bachelor’s degree and then an online master’s in mental health counseling. These two academic qualifications are vital for mental health professionals, irrespective of the areas they serve.

#3 Rapport

Good rapport is a key element of the counseling process. You need to be able to establish trust, build relationships and connect with your clients for them to trust you enough to open up about their problems.

It’s also important that you can establish common ground. Clients need someone who they can relate to on some level and feel comfortable opening up with their deepest thoughts and feelings. So, they will likely want someone who has gone through similar experiences or cases as themselves for them not to feel judged by their counselor (which may cause them not to be able to open up).

#4 Excellent Communication Skills

Excellent communication skills are an essential quality for any mental health counselor. Because your counselor will need to be able to talk with you about your issues and feelings, they must have a good way of communicating. Even though you may have trouble expressing yourself, your counselor should be able to understand what you are saying and respond back in a way that makes sense.

Communication is also important because it helps build trust between you and your counselor. If you feel like the things that go on between the two of you are private, then it will be easier for both of you to work together. 

If there is no trust between the two parties involved (which can happen if they aren’t communicating well), one might think their secrets won’t remain secret throughout their session together. This could result in them feeling uneasy about going into therapy sessions at all.

Almost 75% of Americans still stigmatize mental health care in one way or another. Poor communication skills from the counselor’s end can lead to an increase in that number. 

#5 Patience and Tolerance

Patient and tolerant listening is an essential component of effective counseling. A patient and tolerant counselor listens attentively to their clients, without judgment, interruption, or dismissal. They can listen with empathy even when the client is dealing with difficult issues or topics. 

This can be challenging because a person who is struggling with mental health often feels vulnerable, ashamed, or afraid. In these moments, patience and tolerance are critical for helping the client feel safe enough to share their experiences with you.

Almost 47% of American workers think that seeking therapy or mental health counseling is a sign of weakness. However, this isn’t true. These people are yet to experience therapy or find a good therapist for themselves, which is probably why they have this stigma toward mental health counseling.

The most important thing to remember about finding a counselor is that you should not settle for anything less than the best. You deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, so do not settle for someone who does not meet these qualifications.

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