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How To Become a Therapist: 9 Traits You Need

Published: January 4, 2022    

Updated: January 4, 2022

January 4, 2022    

How To Become a Therapist: 9 Traits You Need

Do you wish to impact the lives of those around you? Then you may wish to explore becoming a therapist. 

There are many types of therapists out there that may help others live a better and happier life by helping people overcome issues that they may have been facing for a long time.

Depending on the specialization you wish to enter, formal education may be an important aspect of becoming a therapist. For example, an advanced degree in psychology, or a related field, such as a master’s degree or a doctoral degree.

However, there are other routes to becoming a therapist without needing a college degree, such as training in Rapid Transformational Therapy® (RTT®). RTT® is a new results-driven approach to therapy that combines the most beneficial principles of Hypnotherapy, Psychotherapy, NLP, CBT, and Neuroscience. 

Whichever route to becoming a therapist you wish to take, the qualities necessary for both pathways remain largely the same. 

For this reason, this article won’t be focusing on the route to becoming a therapist. Instead, it will discuss some key traits that therapists need to have. 

Each of those traits is a skill that you can develop and may have an incredible impact on your success.

Let’s get started: 

1. Self-aware

People often look at therapists as superhumans who have it all figured out. But therapists are as human as all other professionals. Just because they have a better understanding of the human psyche, it doesn’t mean that they have all the answers. Like all people, therapists have needs, desires, and flaws. 

But if a therapist forgets about this, they could become so focused on their clients that they ignore the importance of introspection. As a result, they might get stuck in hindering patterns that affect their performance.

Besides, dealing with other people’s problems every day isn’t easy. As rewarding as it is, many therapists will tell you that the career can also be mentally and emotionally exhausting. 

For the above reasons, you must develop self-awareness. You need to have the ability to recognize any patterns or behaviors that don’t serve you. After all, that’s what you’ll be doing for your clients, so you should learn how to do it for yourself first.

This will ensure that you’re always in touch with your emotional state and wellbeing. Whenever something feels out of place, you can work on achieving a better balance.

Remember that the effectiveness of your therapy largely depends on your own mental and emotional state. You won’t be able to help others if you’re not in a good place yourself. So always take care of yourself first, which can be the prerequisite to taking care of others.

2. Curious 

Remaining curious and ongoing professional development is critical to a therapist’s long-term success. This is because the best methods for treating different issues are always in flux, so you need to stay up-to-date with the latest research and practices. 

Being curious ensures that you devote your time and energy to finding the best possible solution to your client’s issues.

Curious therapists won’t stop until they get into the root cause of their client’s problem. You should be determined to dive into your client’s mind and identify the seeds of their issues. Then find the most effective way of rewiring limiting or negative patterns.

Ongoing professional development is an integral part of a therapist’s lifestyle. Being inquisitive ensures that this education is enjoyable and that you feel excited by the opportunity to learn more. This trait is invaluable to a therapist, so make sure to nurture it.

3. Active Listener

Active listening is an obvious trait of any successful therapist. The issue is that not every client communicates their problems effectively. In many cases, verbal communication might not be enough to fully understand your client. 

If this is the case, you might jump to conclusions based on your own experiences. But, then, you’ll try to fill the holes with your own story, thereby running the risk of making wrong assumptions.

A much better option is to tune into your client’s subtle cues. Pay attention to their body language, facial expressions, and everything else that can tell you more about the client’s issue. Be mindful when listening to your clients, and you shouldn’t have any difficulties picking up on these cues.

4. Non-judgmental

As mentioned, the ability to listen to your client is vital to your success as a therapist. 

It’s just that some therapists face a problem that blocks their ability to listen, which is looking at things from their perspective.

It’s natural to have your own opinions and experiences define the world around you. But when working with a client, it’s not about your world but theirs.

Because of this, you must listen to your clients without bringing your personal experiences into the therapy. You need to take a non-reactive and non-judgmental approach to your client’s story.

This allows you to look from their point of view and understand their issue on a deeper level. Only then may you be able to suggest a course of action that can possibly give the client what they need.

You can expect to encounter clients whose beliefs run counter to your own. It might be hard to refrain from commenting on the client’s thoughts or actions in some cases. However, if your clients feel that they are getting judged, they might not ever come back.

For this reason, successful therapists keep an open mind and focus their attention on the client and their story.

5. Interpersonal Skills

There’s always some degree of specialization when it comes to therapy. We all have affinities to certain topics; some specialize in clinical psychology, others want to work with young people, and many may prefer talk therapy. 

Still, therapists must work with a wide variety of clients within their preferred group. Irrespective of the client’s racial, cultural, political, or other backgrounds, a good therapist should deliver the desired results.

The only time you should look at the client’s background is if it supports the therapy. For example, cultural differences might make some people more or less receptive to certain therapy methods. Factor in these important differences only if it means that you can deliver better results.

6. Honest

Your clients expect you to show them what a better, happier life looks like. While their engagement and willingness to work are vital, it’s your guidance that will make the difference. After working with you, the client is likely to start looking at you as a role model.

Therefore, you must treat them with honesty and integrity. In doing so, you’re setting the right tone and allowing the client to be more open to your therapy methods.

There’s no reason whatsoever to be dishonest with your client. After all, they looked you up because they knew that something in their life was wrong.

When sharing the truth with your client, you will have to act with compassion and deliver it in a non-judgmental way so that they can accept it. 

7. Encouraging 

Many times, the most important thing that your clients will need is hope. This is especially true for mental health counselors who specialize in clients who have more severe issues. Mental health issues such as depression can make people feel hopeless about the future as if there’s no path forward.

As a therapist, you need to show your clients the life that waits for them on the other side. You should be able to give them a taste of the happy and fulfilling life that they deserve. 

Once you have shown them that they may be able to create the life they want with your help, give them hope and deliver on your promises to get the client into their desired state.

8. Empathetic 

Some people are more empathic than others. But, generally speaking, empathic people make better therapists. This makes sense because the ability to understand your client is half the job.

Most of your patients will be able to tell the difference between genuine and ingenuine empathy. Even if they don’t consciously understand it, they’ll pick up on the signs of forced empathy. Needless to say, this will probably make them seek out another therapist.

So, how empathic do you consider yourself?

Be honest with the answer, which may determine your success as a therapist. For example, if you feel that your empathy could use some work, this should be among your top priorities.

The good news is that empathy is a trait that you’ll be able to work on, for the most part. Naturally empathic people might have an advantage, but this is a skill that you can nurture and develop. Like any other skill, empathy gets better with practice.

9. Determined

You might have big plans for the future and your aspirations to become a therapist. This is amazing as it means that you’re not compromising. But at the same time, you might want to find a good balance between your aspirations and realism. 

If you’re just starting out as a therapist, you should know that it takes time and effort to get to where you want to be. In most cases, success doesn’t happen overnight, as you’re going to need lots of experience before you can do meaningful work and potentially change your clients’ lives.

In the long run, allow yourself to dream big, but recognize that your ultimate goal shouldn’t be your only goal. Or else it might feel too out of reach, which can be very demotivating.

Instead, set milestones that you can achieve along the way. Break down your big goals into a set of smaller short-term goals. This will let you see that you’re making progress and working towards a successful future as a therapist.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know the traits that successful therapists need, how many of them can you notice in yourself?

There’s no right or wrong answer here. Everyone is different, and there’s no perfect therapist that checks all the boxes. We all have a unique set of skills that we can use to potentially transform the lives of others.

Of course, what is described above are only some of the key traits you should develop. Depending on the specialization you wish to enter, there are many more that can prove to be very useful. So think about those traits and what you can do to develop and strengthen them to maximize your potential.

Better yet, you don’t have to do it on your own. RTT® has helped thousands of aspiring therapists to develop the right skillset and unlock their full potential. All without having to invest years and thousands of dollars in studying. If this sounds like something you may be interested in, download the course prospectus here

Author: Marisa Peer
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Marisa shares her 30 years of experience as a multi-award-winning therapist to celebrities, top athletes, and even royalty. She is the founder and creator of RTT®, the cutting-edge method and hybrid solution-based approach that can deliver extraordinary transformations.
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