What are the qualities of a good counsellor?
Well, there are different perspectives that I can answer that question from. One of the core qualities of a great counsellor is the same as a good confidant.
A confidant has three qualities: they are a vault, non-judgemental, and empathic.
A counsellor must have these basic skills, as well as other skills, that they bring to therapy. Let’s break down the three qualities further.
I’d like to add that a confidant in our life, a friend or family member, is different from a counsellor.
It’s important to understand that some topics are within the scope of a personal relationship confidant, and some topics are better to not overshare in your personal life. Sharing with a confidant is different from therapy.
Confidence is a vault.
What is in a vault, is locked solid.
A vault does not share anything that you have shared with them.
When you’re sharing, this person understands the nature and the sanctity of the privilege and responsibility to be confident.
Hearing your vulnerable position or your confused emotional state stays in the vault.
It does not leave the two people. No aspect of what you share is talked about by another person.
What’s in the vault, stays in that container.
Non-judgemental requires a couple of things.
If you reduce or define a person by some of their most shameful moments, you are likely judging that person.
Somebody who’s non-judgmental has the humility to understand we’re all human. It’s messy to be human sometimes. If somebody is in a particularly vulnerable state, and they’re sharing with you, being judged can be damaging.
Having your opinions based on one point in time is reductive and not emotionally safe.
Empathy is more than somebody who really cares or can feel deeply about your pain. That’s one attribute of empathy. Empathy is really a one-sided act of unconditional caring.
Validating, one-sided listening skill is the core of empathic listening. As an empathic confidant, you’re not listening for your opinion. You’re not listening with your perspective, or your feelings, at the forefront. This is one-sided listening. Being present fully to the emotions and thoughts of another person.
You’re listening because you care about that person. You’re trying to understand what it is that is bothering them, what they’re most distressed about.
Understanding that your role is to create emotional safety via being a confidant is key.
These are the basic attributes of a great confidant. This is one of the core skills of a great therapist.