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Characteristics and Behaviors of Effective Counseling

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In order for the counseling process to be effective for the client the characteristics and behaviors of the mental health counselor must be effective. To be an effective mental health counselor the process must include both the art and science of helping clients when they struggle. This paper will address both effective and ineffective characteristics of the given transcript along with an explanation of how a counselor’s characteristics or behaviors influence a session with a client. Effective Characteristics

This How a client perceives a counselor is very important in how they effective they feel they counselor will be. As stated by Sheperis and Ellis (2010) “the professional counselor’s dress, manner, setting, and style of helping are present in interactions with the public, and if these match the client expectations of what a professional counselor is, the clients begin to believe that counseling may work for them.” Counselors are perceived to be wise, caring, sincere, confident, and self-disciplined. Other effective characteristics of counselors include being punctual, nonjudgmental, caring and be an active listener (NAADAC, The Association for Addiction Professionals, 2013). Active listening will reinforce with your client that you are listening and care about what they are saying. In some situations clients just may just need someone to listen to them, and they cannot get someone to listen to what they want to say. Characteristic One

The first effective characteristic I will identify in the transcript is the following statement made by the counselor: “It seems that you would like to come home to a peaceful environment after a stressful day of work, and when home is stressful, to, you let out all your frustrations.” (Laureate Education, Inc., 2012). This statement is an effective use of paraphrasing by the counselor of what the client stated previously. Paraphrasing allows the counselor to relay back to the client what they understood the client to state to them in a nonjudgmental manner, so that the counselor and client can build trust and understanding with each other (Cooper, 2010). Reflecting with the client during a session is very important to make sure the counselor and client is both on the same thought.

Characteristic Two
The second statement of the counselor that was a good characteristic was when he stated “Great. That is a good start. Let’s talk some more about where that frustration comes from.” (Laureate Education, Inc., 2012). The counselor used an open-ended question to allow the client to give an answer with a more elaborate answer than just yes or no. Also the counselor was supportive of the client’s choice to focus on himself at this point in his counseling. According to Cooper (2010) “open questions will allow for a more meaningful response and give more control to the client.” If a client is guarded in their responses open-ended questions will allow them to disclose what they feel comfortable disclosing without them feeling so pressured to give information. Ineffective Characteristics

Effective skills will help to improve the relationship between the counselor and the client. When these skills are ignored or not used the relationship will suffer. According to Healing Path Counseling (2013) some ineffective characteristics for communication include giving minimal responses, going blank, and being indirect. In order to overcome being ineffective a professional counselor needs to be knowledgeable of the entire process of counseling from the intake to the natural point of termination of services for each client (Cooper, 2010). Ineffective characteristics and behaviors can be very unhealthy for the counselor and client’s relationship and hinder progress in the client’s progress to recovery. Characteristic One

The first ineffective characteristic in the transcript is when the counselor stated: Ummmm, ok, so you threaten your wife? (Laureate Education, Inc., 2012). The client Bill did not say that he threatened his wife, and the client was offended by this statement. As counselors we have to be nonjudgmental in our clients and their choices that they make in order to help them. “When reflecting feelings use an appropriate introductory phrase, add a feeling label to the stem, and add a brief paraphrase to broaden the reflection” (Cooper, 2010). In this example the counselor sounded so impersonal and accusing when he responded to the client. Characteristic Two

The second characteristic that was ineffective in the given transcript was the following: “Oh, I also forgot to get you to sign the informed consent when you came in. his is a document that states you understand that what you and I say in here is confidential and that I can only break confidentiality if you threaten to harm yourself, someone else, or abuse a child. Can you sign right here for me?” (Laureate Education, Inc., 2012). Professional counselors are ethically bound to provide their clients with informed consent (Sheperis & Ellis, 2010). Even though the counselor did in this transcript it should have been done in the beginning of the session so the client was assured of his confidentiality from the beginning, this may have changed some of his responses. Impact of Counselor’s Characteristics on the Session

Microskills are an important part of forming a good client counselor relationship. There are several times during the given transcript where better Microskills could have been used to secure a better rapport with the client. For example when the counselor stated “Really? Hmmm…” (Laureate Education, Inc., 2012). The counselor could have been more empathetic to the client and used better open questions such as Tell me what led to your wife’s comment of leaving if you did not get counseling?. This would allow for the client to respond in a number of ways and if he is guarded in his responses he would not feel pressured for information (Cooper, 2010).

The counselor did not speak of any more information other than a few demographic and social history questions in the beginning of the session. According to Cooper (2010) ”the first session should consist of information gathering of family background, any abuse history, medical history, client contact information, basic overview of why services are needed, history f present concern, level of education, present and past occupation status, and counselors impressions and recommendations.” It states this is the first session but little of this is found in the transcript, therefore it will be difficult to develop a treatment plan to review at the next session with the client.


Cooper, J. B. (2010). Counseling microskills. In B. T. Erford (Ed.), Orientation to the counseling profession: Advocacy, ethics, and essential professional foundations (pp. 148–162). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education. Healing Paths Counseling. (2013). Five Categories of Ineffective Communication. Retrieved July 6, 2013, from http://www.healingpathcounseling.com/2010/05/25/five-categories-of-ineffective-communication/ Laureate Education, Inc. (2012). Transcript: Effective Counselor Characteristics and Behaviors. Retrieved July 6. 2013, from COUN-6100-15,Intro to Mental Health Coun.2013 Summer Qtr 06/03-08/25-PT1 NAADAC, The Association for Addiction Professionals. (2013). Counselor Characteristics and Training. Retrieved July 6, 2013, from article/57-job-bank/561-counselor-characteristices-and-training Sheperis, D. S., & Ellis, C. M. (2010). The counseling process. In B. T. Erford (Ed.), Orientation to the counseling profession: Advocacy, ethics, and essential professional foundations (pp. 124–147). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

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