What Makes a Good Counselor? Thesis

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¶ … Counselor

Reasons for NOT Seeking a Counseling Degree

First, it is important to discuss reasons NOT to seek a counseling degree. Many people enter this profession because they want to help others. But combined with that, there are personal desires stated by students that indicate they want to counsel others because it offers them a sense of power and control. In addition, the strong sense of wanting to work through their own "issues" is present in those interested in this field.

Here are a some of the most common self-stated reasons given by those wanting a counseling career:

I'm kind of nosy, I guess. I like learning about other people's lives and having access to a world that is hidden from everyone else." have had my own troubles over the years. Learning to be a counselor was one way I tried to keep a lid on my own sense of powerlessness. In a way, I have a better perspective on myself when I see the problems of other people." was tired of being in the classroom, and I did not want to be a principal." (Richard Hazler, Jeffrey Kottler, 1998)

Your counseling might do more harm than good if you allow this type of thinking to enter your sessions, even though you also want sincerely to help others to a better life. In other words, if you have your own "undealt with" issues, perhaps another profession would be better for you.

So, What are the Reasons to Seek a Counseling Career?

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By far, the most important reason to seek a counseling career is that you are sincerely interested in people and deeply sincere about helping them solve their problems. You probably noticed the double use of the word sincere. If it's not in your heart, your clients will detect it, and the effectiveness of your counseling will deteriorate.

If you love to listen -- really listen -- counseling may be for you. Of course, you must realize there is a huge difference between hearing and listening. Listening involves caring. Listening involves understanding. Listening involves reading between the lines and knowing what your client is really saying. if, like most people, you enjoy talking more than listening, counseling may not be for you.

Thesis on What Makes a Good Counselor? Assignment

You must want to work for it -- long and hard. The road to becoming a professional counselor is a difficult one, requiring licensing, a postgraduate degree, and, usually, two years or more of field work as an intern working with a licensed counselor. Most states also require an examination to obtain the license.

You're probably not going to get rich being a professional counselor. So, you have to want it because of the reasons we stated above. Salary averages for a professional counselor in the U.S. during 2007 ranged from $30,000 up to around $50,000 with some experience. Of course, if your plan is to become a psychiatrist or psychologist with a counseling goal in mind, the compensation levels jump by fifty per cent or more in most cases. However, the educational, licensure and field experience requirements usually increase as well.

Personality Characteristics of a Good Counselor

Generally agreed upon are the following: (CAP, n.d.)

Sincerity sincere counselor will make time for the counselee and schedule the session so both parties have enough time to speak/listen.

Good Listening Skills good counselor will listen attentively to what is being said and perceptively hear what the individual really means.


The quality of being of sound moral principal, upright, and honest. A counselee is more likely to confide in a counselor of obvious integrity.


The ability to cope with waiting, provocation from a patient, or to proceed calmly when problems arise without displaying emotion or frustration to the client.


Counselors must have (or develop) the capability to discern what the client is "really" saying. Perception means the ability to notice things that others might now. A good counselor is able to do that with their clients.

Good Judgment and Common Sense

Not judging a client too soon -- or too late. A counselor must ensure most or all of the facts are known before diagnosing or beginning a path to a cure. And one shoe doesn't fit all. Consult others or professional journals if necessary. Most of all the sense you have gained from experience.


Enough said. This trait is paramount.

Other Personality Characteristics - Compare and Contrast (Ledyard, 1994)

Some of the best data comes from Ledyard's 1994 study contrasting characteristics of those students interested in counseling vs. those interested in an administration/education career.

Previous studies had indicated definite personality traits specific to counseling candidates. Some of that research had also indicated the difference in characteristics of effective counseling candidates vs. ineffective candidates. Effective counselor candidates were characterized as confident, friendly, accepting, outgoing, efficient, and assertive; highly rated counselors showed more nurturing, affiliation, anxiety, and conformity tendencies. (Ledyard, 1994)

Previous studies have found counselors and educators to be more similar than different in their perceptions of students, interpersonal values, and reactions to frustrations. They also indicate that counselors, more than administrators tended to feel it was a greater compliment to be called "a person of real feeling" rather than "a consistently reasonable person."

What these studies have accomplished in general is to verify that counselors do have distinct personality traits. (Ledyard, 1994)

Ledyard's study revealed the following results:

1. Counselors are likely to be less "social." When asked if they would feel comfortable joining a large party, dance, etc., only about 57% said yes vs. 88% for the administrative students.

2. Ledyard confirmed that, by a large margin, counselors prefer to be known as "a person of real feeling" rather than "a consistently reasonable person."

3. Counselor candidates felt it more important that children develop their affections rather than their emotions. The majority of education candidates felt the opposite.

4. When asked if they talk about their feelings, 71% of counselors and only 41% of the administrators said yes, whenever they had a chance.

5. Both sides scored equally on the question of what they would do if someone got angry with them.

In another study, Counselor Education students at the University of North Texas were compared to the general population of the school.

As predicted, of the sixteen MBTI types, the most common for Counselor Education graduate students emerged as ENFP: extraversion, intuition, feeling, and perception. Additionally, this MBTI type was found to be significantly more common among the population of Counselor Education graduate students than is found among the general population." (VanPelt-Tess, 1999) Van Pelt found potential counselors more extroverted and intuitive. She also found that they dealt more with feelings and were more perceptive than the general population.

Personality and Counseling Style

Some studies have indicated that counselors' personality traits and relationships with clients have greater impact on clients' outcomes than the specific theories or techniques used (Stein & Lambert, 1995: Stevens, Dinoff, & Donnenworth, 1998)

For example, interpersonal characteristics of counselors, such as self-monitoring, self-efficacy, and dogmatism, have been assessed in relation to empathy. (Judith Crews, et al., 2005)

Studies suggested that those low in self-monitoring, although generally perceived to be genuine and congruent, were at risk of appearing to be or becoming dogmatic or rigid in response to clients' needs. In contrast, those high in self-monitoring might appear to be manipulative, unless their directive and adaptive interpersonal styles were not tempered. Those low in self-monitoring tended to be nonconforming and less disposed to follow directions and imitate behavior offered by supervisors. Those high in self-monitoring have been shown to have low tolerances to ambiguity, and thus might become confused by too many cues given in counseling and supervision situations.

Thus, it seems that counselors-in-training who are high in self-monitoring skills might learn counseling skills more easily and efficiently than those who are low in self-monitoring skills. (Judith Crews, et al., 2005)

This same study focused on recognizing and using existing personality traits for conceptualizing client problems, relationship building, and dealing with clients' problems.

The sample for the study consisted of 56, 1st-year master's degree candidates from five sections of counseling process and theory courses. The courses were part of a training program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) in a midsized, land grant university located in a western state. All 56 participants completed one of five sections of a three-credit, semester-long counseling process and theory course.

A pool of doctoral and advanced master's-level participants in counseling acted as coached clients. The topic for each simulated counseling session was dealing with the demands of graduate school. The coached clients were instructed to behave cooperatively during sessions so that participants had the opportunity to demonstrate as many counseling skills as possible during the videotaped sessions

Results: The study failed to provide support for the group of researchers such as Grencavage and Norcross (1990), Lambert (1989), Stein and Lambert (1995), and Stevens et al. (1998), who proposed that personality traits have a greater impact… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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