6 Character Traits For A Mental Health Counselor

The need for mental health counselors is growing. In the past, mental health was something that no one wanted to talk about, either through fear, shame, or misunderstanding. Thankfully, things have changed, and today we can be more open about these issues. The great thing about this is that the people who need help can receive it. 

Therefore, more and more mental health counselors are required. However, this is not an easy job, and it takes a certain kind of person to do it well and to enjoy it (which is crucial; you can’t help others if you are miserable in your job as you simply won’t be motivated to do it). With that in mind, here are some character traits that a good mental health counselor will need to succeed.

A Genuine Interest In Others 

Becoming a mental health counselor takes a lot of dedication and hard work, and if you’re looking for a career in which you can put your interest in people to good use, there are few better than becoming a counselor. However, if you’re just looking for a career where you can do your job, get paid, and go home, then becoming a mental health counselor may not be right. Unless you truly have an interest in people, it will not be something you can get a lot out of. 

Some people simply need to ensure others are happy and healthy and that they are making the best of their lives. These people will often also want to know more about other people, and when they ask questions, they want to hear the answers – and it shows. These are the kinds of people who make excellent (successful) mental health counselors. Are you one of them? 


A successful and effective mental health counselor must understand that as well as helping their patients be more self-reflective to understand where their mental health issues stem from, they must practice self-reflection. It’s just as important to look deeply inside yourself as to encourage others to do the same. 

There are several reasons for this. Firstly, when you are a mental health counselor student, you will be taught to use your own feelings and emotions as a way to empathize with your patients. You can use your own ideas to measure others, and you can help understand emotions by understanding your own. Not only is this important, but it’s also good practice for helping your patients in the best way. If you can understand your feelings, you’ll know what questions to ask your clients and how to interpret the answers. 

Be Understanding 

Are you a clear communicator? Some people communicate better than others; some find it very difficult. When you are a mental health counselor, you need to communicate with your patients clearly and concisely, but with a tone that shows you are empathetic and, as mentioned above, there for them as an advocate. If you can do all of this, counseling is an ideal career for you, as being understanding is vital.

It’s great to understand your clients, and it’s great to come up with a solution – or at least the start of one – to help them when it comes to their mental health issues, but unless they can understand you and follow your instructions, it will all be for nothing. You must ensure that your communication is good and that there is no room for confusion. One way to ensure this happens is to use the correct tools from Once you can communicate correctly, you can be sure you are helping people the best way as a mental health counselor. 

Accessibility And Authenticity 

One of the most important things for mental health counselors is for their patients to trust them. Without this trust, the client won’t be able to open up about what is troubling them, and if they can’t do that, the counselor will be unable to offer them advice and help them. Therefore, accessibility is an important trait to have. This means being trustworthy, empathetic, and authentic; a genuine person will be able to help others much more than someone who is only there for the money or the adulation; patients will know the difference. 

Being authentic and accessible is at the heart of every good counselor’s work. The client needs to know that you understand when they talk to you. Perhaps you haven’t been through a similar situation, but you know what they are feeling. At the very least, they need you to be able to put yourself in their shoes


When you work as a mental health counselor, you need to be flexible to succeed. As we’ve mentioned above, every client will be different and have different needs. You need to be able to tailor your care to meet those needs, and the care will be different depending on the individual you are helping. 

To help as many people as possible, being flexible is crucial. Although it might be tempting (because it’s easier) to stick to one plan and hand it out to everyone, it will only benefit a small number of people. Being too rigid with your ideas can cause harm, and at the very least, it will ensure that the people who come to you for help don’t receive it, which is the last thing you’ll want when you’re a counselor (assuming you decided to study and work hard because you wanted to help people). 

You’ll need to ascertain what kind of person someone is and how they will best be helped quickly and accurately, and once you know more about them, you will either reassess or move forward with your original ideas. Things can change quickly in counseling, mainly when you make a breakthrough or when an issue pulls the patient back a few steps, so you must always be ready to adapt and change when needed.

Show More

Todd Smekens

Journalist, consultant, publisher, and servant-leader with a passion for truth-seeking. Enjoy motorcycling, meditation, and spending quality time with my daughter and rescue hound. Spiritually-centered first and foremost. Lived in multiple states within the USA and frequent traveler to the mountains.

Related Articles

Back to top button