his research paper discusses the qualities that are necessary for an effective counseling and as such any counselor considered effective must posses them. The paper has a separate discussion of both personal and professional qualities required for any good counselor. The personal qualities form a larger part of the discussion because the professional qualities depend wholly on the individual characteristics since professional qualities alone can’t qualify a counselor but effective personal qualities alone can make a good counselor. The main objectives of this paper is to set pace for subsequent studies on the area of effective counseling but more importantly, the paper is aimed at giving insight to practicing counselors and individuals who have the ambition of taking guidance and counseling as a career. Through learning the qualities necessary for effective counseling, individuals can exercise them and build their career to reputable and professional counselors.
Personal and Professional Qualities Necessary for an Effective Counselor
Counseling is process whose main objective is to help other individuals make better choices of their lives and make them better decision makers of present alternatives (Gladding, 2008). The counselor qualities involve those attributes that will help in forming working counseling relationships as well as building proper intervention programs that will help clients change their thinking, perceptions, attitudes and feelings. The guidance and
counseling profession has called for the possession of both personal and professional characteristics that are necessary for admission into the guidance and counseling activities as well as evaluate the performance of the individuals under the counseling program.
Whiston (2009) notes that effective counselors always strive to know the condition(s) of their clients and how they can be solved. A good counselor should therefore have a positive and unconditional view of the recovery of the client. Once the understanding has been reached then a progressive counseling relationship is established. This personal quality of the counselors form the basis through which individuals under the counseling programme can freely express their experiences, thoughts and acceptance of their emotions. This quality has some professional elements in that the counselor must demonstrate openness in this relationship as well as creating a comfortable, safe and confidential environment for the client which is a sign that the counselor is dedicated to support, encourage and help.
An effective counselor should not be over judgmental in trying to win the trust of the client in the counseling relationship (Gladding, 2008). This quality provides the client the environment necessary to disclose all the information that is needed in the counseling program. By being less judgmental, the counselor will give room for a client to express their personalities and improve on the friendly atmosphere and attitude so that the counseling process can grow. Additionally, body language is very important quality that helps individuals to express their feeling towards other people. Using the right posture, maintaining a timed eye contact as well as giving the client personal space is crucial to conveying the warmth that the counselor has to the counseling process and to the client (Whiston, 2009). The way the counselor speaks must also conform to his/her body language so that the client can have reassurance of the actuality of the counselor
Extending appropriate respect and value of a client is very crucial for an effective counseling program. An effective counselor will express a positive acceptance of the client so that disclosure of information is total
as well as improve free interaction. This respect will enable a counselor explore chances for change and provide accepted and genuine attention and caring. More importantly, effective counselors should respect themselves first before expecting the same to be extended by others. This can be done through building strong realistic and self worth virtues as well as receiving and giving support to others. They shouldn’t isolate themselves or have any sense of self destructiveness. Furthermore, effective counselor must first know who they are and what they are capable of doing concerning guidance and counseling before they get to know their clients. They should have clear goals of what they want o achieve in their line of career by a clear sense of values and priorities that are very important in attending individuals who actually need counseling such as drug addicts and family violence victims.
Effective counselors must recognize the limits of their power especially influential and convincing powers because they may compromise the effectiveness of a counseling program thus they should be able to tame their power (Whiston, 2009). However, effective counselors do not use their power for their own gain but to help and support the clients in the best reform procedures. On the other hand, Gladding (2008) confirm that effective counselors must always be in touch with themselves especially when dealing with clients who present the same experiences as those of the counselor. In such cases the counselor will give his/her side of experiences then compare with those of the client then come up with a conclusively recovery program. Effective counselors are always responsive to change in methods they use to address counseling and guidance issues of their clients. Other notable personal qualities of an effective counselor may include toleration of ambiguities from the client, considering things from other peoples perspectives especially the client, being active in all processes involved in a counseling program as well as being present oriented and not dwelling so much on the past to solve current problems.
Education in psychology or related field is considered an important professional quality that counselor must posses. However, a degree or certificate in this field doesn’t make an individual an effective counselor
but the integration of this knowledge into real life experiences that are causes of many social problems that require attention of a counselor. Good educated counselors will always strive to learn more about themselves and others. Experience is another professional quality of an effective counselor which can be two fold. First the experience attained from the guidance and counseling career is very important in making an effective counselor. On the other hand, life experiences present an individual with chances to grow to a more complete person which is also a necessary quality for effective counseling. Practice is part of experience and is a more practical quality that effective counselor must possess. Adequate training in the field of counseling through organized forums, conferences and workshops are necessary to perform an effective counseling. Counselors should always seek jobs that will provide useful helping skills that are crucial in counseling programmes.
Counseling is a long procedure similar to problem solving and decision making process. As such effective counselors must be conversant with all the steps that are involved in solving a problem. Identification of a case that needs attention is the first analytical skill that counselors must possess. This skill will help them in identifying who needs counseling guidance. Problem identification skills will help the counselors understand the nature of the difficulties that the client faces. Then, an effective counselor will go ahead to diagnosis the problem to determine what could be the cause then prognosis skills can be used to determine various alternatives for the identifies problems. Healing or repairing the psychological problems faced by clients is done here then evaluation skills will be used to follow up the performance of the counseling program.
From this paper, for an individual to be considered an effective counselor, he/she must posses a great combination of both personal and professional qualities. All these activities revolve around developing the correct attitude towards the clients to make the counseling process successful. This will lead to a good relationship with the clients as well as building a concrete rapport builds thus a firm foundation to the counseling process because it demonstrates legitimacy in the counseling process.
Gladding, S. (2008). Counselling: A comprehensive Profession. New York: Pearson Prentice Hall
Whiston, S. (2009). Prinples and Applications of Assessment in Counseling. Belmont: Cengage Learning