10 qualities that make a good counsellor

Counsellors play a huge part in helping their clients to talk about their feelings, relieve distress, make positive changes in their life and understand why they are behaving in a certain way.

Encompassing a range of different specialisms, counsellors work across a wide range of settings and in lots of different sectors. Helping people resolve physiological, emotional and relationship issues, counsellors encourage people to talk about difficult, distressing or challenging times in their lives, which may be having a detrimental impact on how they function day-to-day.

Providing support for issues such as divorce, relationship breakdowns, bereavement, anxiety, depression, substance abuse and more, a counsellor will aim to get to the root of a problem while listening in an empathetic way.

Ultimately, counselling is all about forming a connection with your client that allows you to facilitate positive changes by creating a high level of trust. It can be an incredibly rewarding and worthwhile profession.

But what makes a good counsellor?

Communication skills

If you are considering embarking on a career in counselling, you must have excellent communication skills, especially verbal communication. You will spend your days talking to clients about a vast range of issues and it’s important that you have the skills to support, question, and encourage your patients, without judgement.


A counsellor must have empathy – the ability to understand the feelings of others. You need the ability to see things from your client’s perspective and understand their point of view, whether you agree with it or not.

Interpersonal skills

As well as being able to express yourself clearly, you’ll also need to be able to gauge your client’s understanding of what you are asking them. A good counsellor will be able to sense how a client is feeling and respond appropriately. This involves showing empathy and acceptance and, ultimately, making sure that your client feels comfortable to have an open and honest conversation in your presence.


We are more likely to open up about how we are feeling when we trust someone.

With this in mind, you must conduct yourself in a trustworthy manner and reassure your client that you will not share anything that they tell you with others. A relationship that is built on trust will allow you to form a deeper connection with your client.

Awareness of diversity

Counsellors work with clients from all cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds, as well as those with different expressions of gender and sexuality. It’s important that you welcome and recognise this diversity, ensuring your clients feel comfortable and accepted. Treatment plans should also be created with a client’s cultural values in mind, and must always show respect for their beliefs and attitudes.


Patience is a core skill that all counsellors need. After all, not every client will open up to you immediately and you will need to accept that progress can take time. You will need to remain positive and focused on the end goal and don’t feel disheartened if it takes longer to get your client to where they need to be.


It’s important that all counsellors can separate their personal issues from topics discussed with their clients. Counsellors are human too, and it’s highly likely that, at some point in your career, your sessions will cover issues you have personal experience with.

When this happens, you need the self-awareness to manage your responses and your reactions.

Listening skills

To build trust with your client, it’s important that they know you understand them. This means carefully listening to their emotions and experiences, and providing non-verbal clues that you are giving them your full attention. For example, wait until the client has finished speaking; never interrupt them.


Counsellors need the ability to care for themselves, as well as others. Supporting others with their traumas, issues, and concerns, can be extremely demanding mentally. So you must be able to set personal limits and boundaries and recognise when you need to care for yourself.

Knowledge of laws and regulations

Finally, a good counsellor will always ensure that they have a sound knowledge and understanding of the laws and regulations that regulate the industry. This is incredibly important – all counsellors must demonstrate that they are able to carry out counselling sessions in line with these boundaries.

If you’re thinking of becoming a counsellor, get in touch to find out how to become a counsellor or sign up for one of our Chrysalis Counsellor Courses.