What Qualities should a Marriage and Family Counselor Possess?

A successful marriage and family counselor should possess a number of personality qualities that are helpful in working with couples, children and other family members to manage various emotional situations and possible effects and causes of mental disorders. These issues can affect marriages, relationships with children and individuals within the family unit in a number of different settings, including private practices, government agencies and community organizations. Regardless of the setting, there are certain qualities that will help a counselor successfully help clients.

Communication and Listening Skills

At the foundation of all counseling, lies listening and communication as the most important qualities for a counselor to possess in order to work with clients. First, listening to every family member is essential in order to determine what issues are at hand, as well as for identifying any underlying issues that are not immediately disclosed or observed. Additionally, it is important for clients in a counseling session to feel at ease and open with a counselor, and good listening skills allow a client to feel that they are being heard and that anything that is being said is important to the therapist.

Other communication skills are also important to creating the environment and trust needed in order to help families. Marriage and family counselors should have interpersonal skills to build relationships, oral communication skills to talk with clients and written communication skills in order to complete the reports and additional paperwork that might be required for each session.

Compassion and Ethics

Building a relationship of trust and honesty requires additional skills as well. To be able to help clients, a counselor in this field must be compassionate, working to understand needs within the family unit to make a diagnosis and create a plan for therapy. This also requires a marriage and family counselor to uphold all of the ethical standards of the profession, keeping all information confidential and remaining unbiased in all therapy sessions. For additional information on the ethical standards of the marriage and family counseling profession, visit the American Counseling Association website.

Organization and Management

In addition to managing therapy plans and sessions, there are a number of other tasks that require organizational and management abilities. Marriage and family counselors may have to handle everything from filing reports, to billing insurance companies and clients, to scheduling appointments. To handle these tasks, understanding how to lead and interact with families in a way that avoids chaos and handling office-related responsibilities in a timely manner is important.

Evaluation and Assessment

Other valuable qualities of a marriage and family counselor include observation, evaluation and assessment abilities. Counselors in this specialization will not only observe clients as they interact with one another, but they will also draw conclusions from the observations and consider various plans for therapy in order to determine the best course of action to take for making a difference in the issues affecting a family or couple.

Despite the varying nature of issues within a family or marriage, a counselor who brings compassion, communication skills and counseling knowledge and ability to sessions can aid in the therapy process. To effectively manage counseling sessions and therapy plans, these qualities of a marriage and family counselor are important for helping every family member.  If you possess these skills, you should consider studying for a marriage and family counseling degree.