14 Skills Needed to be a Counsellor

If you’re interested in helping guide people through their social, psychological, medical, relational, educational and vocational difficulties, you might want to pursue a career as a counsellor. But do you have what it takes to be a great counsellor? Find out here as we give you the top 15 skills you need to succeed as a counsellor.

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What’s a counsellor?

A counsellor is usually concerned with people’s practical issues and providing them with support. They’ll talk about and work through a person’s problems to help them explore potential strategies to address and overcome them. Common issues that people seek guidance from a counsellor include stress, addiction, relationship problems, career issues and divorce. Counsellor’s become qualified by undertaking a counselling course that teaches them a variety of essential skills necessary to succeed as a counsellor.

What skills does a counsellor need?

Here are 14 skills you need to be a counsellor:

1. Communication skills

You need excellent verbal communication skills to effectively talk to a range of different people. Counsellors will often have to question clients and conduct interviews, and they need to be skilful in doing so as to not further upset or cause stress to clients.

2. Interpersonal skills

Counsellors need to be able to work effectively with different groups of people, including clients and colleagues. You may have to work with a client for months or even years, so having the talent for building relationships is also important. You should be aware of a client’s reactions and understand the reasons behind them, as well as know how to persuade a client to change their mindset or behaviour.

3. Understanding of ethics

You must have a solid ethical code and keep sessions with your clients confidential to ensure their safety and well-being. You should also be aware that your work can have significant effects on people, and you need to keep this in mind when dealing with others. This is something that you can learn through undertaking training for counselling.

4. Patience

You need to be patient when working with your clients. You should understand that a lot of time, like several months or even years, can pass before substantial results can be seen. Patience is key for true progress to be made, and you need the ability to keep yourself motivated even when results aren’t instantly obvious.

5. Compassion

You should have a desire to help others, be sympathetic, and be able to empathise with your client’s pain and other problems. You need the ability to put your patients at ease and make them feel comfortable.

6. Emotional stability

You must have a solid emotional footing and the ability to handle the stress and emotional turmoil caused by working with people who are distressed.

7. Knowledge of laws and regulations

You should be familiar with the laws and regulations that control the industry in your state. You must also be able to work in the profession within the boundaries of the law.

8. Open-mindedness

You need to be open-minded and tolerant of different people and situations. You should also be open to new research and new ways of thinking that could challenge your practices.

9. Trustworthiness

You must be trustworthy and be able to inspire your patients to confide in you and with their problems, otherwise they won’t improve or return to you.

10. Research skills

You must know how and where to find the information you need and evaluate it effectively. This applies when you’re trying to help a client by seeing what other solutions have been tested. You can look at scientific journals that have information from decades of research.

11. Problem-solving skills

You need to be able to solve problems as they arise. You should have alternative strategies available and be able to implement them fast to ensure your client can move forward. There are specific problem-solving strategies that counsellors use, and you can learn these in a counselling course.

12. Observational skills

You should be able to observe a person’s facial expressions, body language, and social interactions during appointments to find clues that determine their attitude and behaviour. You need to know how to conduct interviews, watch for specific behaviours, and observe your client thoroughly to be able to help them.

13. Reasoning skills

You need reasoning skills so you can see subtle connections between problems that don’t seem related. This means you must be able to take a broader view of human behaviours and find similarities or general principles at play instead of focusing on the individual details of a case.

14. Computer skills

You should know how to use a computer so you can take notes and download and save large reports and client files. You also need to know how to use medical software for recording client information, spreadsheet and word-processing programs for writing reports, and billing programs for submitting and tracking invoices to your clients and insurers.

Start your journey as a counsellor today

As you can see, there’s lots of skills you need to have if you want to be a counsellor, and you can learn them by studying an ICI Diploma or ICI Advanced Diploma in Counselling & Psychology. With these skills, you’ll be able to make a difference in people’s lives, which is one of the best things about being a counsellor. So what are you waiting for? Enrol today!

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Gladys Mae

Gladys is the Associate Director of Admissions & Student Services with over 10 years of experience at the International Career Institute.