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Signs of an effective therapist

A therapist, is a mental health professional who helps clients improve their lives, develop better cognitive and emotional skills, improve symptoms of mental illness and cope with a range of other conflicts and challenges. Besides just having appropriate qualifications, a therapist requires a number of other attributes in order to be effective in therapy. It’s beyond just the degree and text book. Some of the characteristics of a good therapist are as follows:

Interpersonal skills
A good therapist must have sophisticated interpersonal skills such as active listening, communication skills, immediacy, empathy, congruence, acceptance, warmth, understanding, non-judgment, multicultural and other.

An effective therapist is someone who you believe can be trusted. Since therapy requires client-counsellor bond it is essential that the therapist must be trusted by you in order to build comfort to speak up about any and all issues without fear. You must feel like you’re in good hands when in session with an effective therapist.

Focus on you
An effective therapist will allow the floor to be yours and will refrain from oversharing their own experiences. The focus of the session will be on you; what you’re facing, how you’re feeling, thinking and dealing.

Verbal & Non verbal communication
Verbal communication refers to what you’re explicitly stating and non-verbal refers to that which is conveyed in ways other than words. An effective therapist will have the ability to understand the smallest on non-verbal cues and therefore is able to understand more than what is merely stated.

Unconditional Positive regard
Positive regard instils hope which drives motivation therefore an effective therapist will incorporate this and inspire you to think that you can get better. Often treatment is successful if client is made to believe so. Having said this, the therapist be positive within realistic boundaries.

Goal setting and progress check
Setting goals is an extremely important aspect of therapy. An effective therapist will ensure to set one or many goals and will keep a constant check on whether the sessions are bringing you closer to your goals. This helps to create a road map and track progress. Effective therapists collaborate with clients to set goals that are clear, specific, and concrete. Prior to each session, review the plan and set goals for the session. Top clinicians go into each session prepared. They take time to think about the individual patient and to consider how treatment is progressing. They prepare a line of questioning that will move this particular patient toward his or her particular goals.

An effective therapist will educate and provide you details on your disorder, symptoms, triggers and other. This will allow you better understanding about yourself leading to less ambiguity.

An effective therapist will be committed and consistent in helping you achieve your therapy goals. If a particular approach is not working, an effective therapist will alter the approach and will be determined to continue treatment and ensure recovery.

Emotionally resilient
It is important for a therapist to remain emotionally resilient at all times during the process of therapy. They will separate their own thoughts and feelings from those of their clients and deal with them appropriately at another time. An effective therapist will be emotionally detached from their own thoughts and feelings and not let their clients’ thoughts or feelings affect them in anyway.

Good therapists will pay attention to the clients’ needs and response to therapy with regular check ins and follow ups.

A good therapist does not follow a rigid approach, rather a good therapist is likely to make a treatment plan as per the requirements of the client and flexible in changing the approach if necessary.

Multicultural Competency
A good therapist must be able to demonstrate multicultural worldview in a manner that they are able to understand clients regardless if religion, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, economic background and other.

Self-awareness is the ability to look within and identify oneself; needs and desires and other. This ability ensures that a therapists prevents your issues from affecting or conflicting with those of your clients. Self-awareness has a major impact on a counselor & effectiveness, says professor David Hutchinson in his book, "The Essential Counselor."

Possession of self-insight.
It is natural for counsellor’s to draw their own conclusions
about self-awareness. A counsellor’s relationship with their client and the process of therapy may present many personal challenge’s, but is also an opportunity to assess the personal thoughts, feelings and strengths that may arise, during this process. Self-awareness can also enable the counsellor to make a conscious ‘use of the self’. Without self-awareness, it is possible for a counsellor to project their problems onto their clients. An effective therapist will thus possess self-insight and be able to separate their issues from those of their clients and remain emotionally detached. What this means for you: It is important for a client to bring up whatever they feel uncomfortable about in the entire process and discuss it with their therapist. 
An effective therapist will maintain boundaries with their clients and use self-disclosure with their clients only when absolutely necessary. Therapists are however trained to manage their own emotions and hence most of them are able to maintain those boundaries with their clients and not project their emotions onto their clients.

Monitor client progress
It’s been shown that when therapist and client discuss progress together and refine how they are working accordingly, the client is more committed to the work, less likely to drop out, and more likely to improve. At the beginning of each session, effective clinicians check in with the client about how he or she thinks therapy is working for them. They ask clarifying questions to be sure they understand the feedback and make adjustments accordingly.

Multi dimensional approach 
Superior therapists have a number of skill sets to draw upon. They are able to shift their approach according to patient needs as well as patient feedback. Some patients, for example, respond best to directives. Others are better served by
expressive techniques (like sand trays or art) or by a more person-centered approach.

Effective therapists make notes and journal the session in order to reflect. They do not rely on computer dropdown menus but rather in depth notes.

Counselors help people through some of the most difficult and stressful times of their lives. They must be able to display empathy – the ability to feel what another person is feeling. Empathy means that you are truly able to imagine what it's like to stand in someone else's shoes. Compassion and empathy help your clients feel understood and heard.

Problem-Solving Skills
It's not up to a counselor to solve her clients' problems, no matter how much she might want to help. But counselors must have excellent problem-solving skills to be able to help their clients identify and make changes to negative thought patterns and other harmful behaviors that might be contributing to their issues, says Dr. Lynn Ponton in an article for PsychCentral.

Rapport-Building Skills
Counselors must possess a strong set of interpersonal skills to help establish rapport quickly with clients and develop strong relationships. They must give their undivided attention to clients and be able to cultivate trust. Counselors need to be able to place all of their focus on what their clients are saying and avoid being distracted by their own personal problems or concerns when they are in a session.

In Conclusion, the outcome of therapy thus depends on many factors. However, it is not important for all therapist’s to meet all these criteria. What is important in the counselling relationship is for the client and counsellor to trust each other and be comfortable with each other. The success of the counselling relationship thus to a large extent depends on whether these factors are present or not between the client and therapist.