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Personality Characteristics of Therapists

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Wanting to help others is important to those who want to become therapists, but other personality traits play roles too. In fact, a therapist's personality can be a factor in how successful therapy is for a client. Because a therapist is dealing with difficult problems every day, certain characteristics can help a therapist survive and even excel in what can be a stressful career.

Compassionate and Non-Judgmental

In order for a client to feel comfortable opening up to his therapist, the therapist should display compassion for the client's problems and the client should feel that he won't be judged. A therapist shouldn't operate as if he is a superior working with an inferior person; he should put his own values and beliefs aside and respect a client's beliefs, even if they conflict with his own. A therapist should be able to communicate both verbally and non-verbally that he is someone the client can trust. If a client trusts his therapist enough to be real with him, then the therapist will better understand the client's problems and be able to help him find lasting solutions.

Stable and Secure

A therapist should be stable and consistent. His office should be a place of security for the client. A client may be suffering because he does not have consistency or stability within himself if he suffers from a psychiatric problem. Or, a client may need therapy because his home life is unstable. Finding stability in the therapist's office can play a key role in a client becoming stable.


An authentic and honest therapist plays a key role in his client's recovery. Often, a therapist will inadvertently become a role model for his client. That means the therapist should conduct his personal and professional lives with honesty and integrity. The therapist should exhibit traits that are good to emulate and will help the client succeed in his own life.


A good degree of skepticism also plays an important role in therapy. A therapist shouldn't believe everything the client says without any evidence. Clients sometimes lie to hide a truth that embarrasses them or in order to avoid personal responsibility. Clients may even deceive themselves. A therapist needs to think critically and see beyond the surface.

Intelligent and Inquisitive

A therapist who is intelligent and inquisitive will stay updated on the latest research and treatment plans so that he can help his clients in the best way possible. This type of therapist will listen carefully to the client, research the client's issues and help explain why the client is experiencing symptoms and what treatments will work best. A therapist who isn't willing to do research on his own and continue learning will not be able to provide his clients with the best treatment options possible.


With features published by media such as Business Week and Fox News, Stephanie Dube Dwilson is an accomplished writer with a law degree and a master's in science and technology journalism. She has written for law firms, public relations and marketing agencies, science and technology websites, and business magazines.

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