How to Select a Great Counselor or Coach

9 Qualities to Look for in a Mental Health Professional


Select Great Counselor

The success you experience in counseling or coaching depends, in part, on the quality of the counselor you hire. I’m often asked about people I recommend. Here are some qualities I look for. Hopefully this list will help you make the best choice possible.

9 Qualities to Look for

1. Are They Excited About Helping?

Do you get the sense they are excited about helping people overcome life challenges and reach personal goals? Do they seem burned out? Beware of the counselor who lacks passion for their work.

2. Are They Humble?

Do they act like they can help you even before they know about the issues you face? Can they admit that they are not the best fit for certain problems? The best professionals know what they are good at and when they need to refer to someone with more expertise in an area. Their main concern is that people get the best help possible.

3. Are They Confident?

Confidence comes from knowing you can deliver results. I’m confident I can provide someone top-notch career coaching but not confident in my abilities to help someone with an eating disorder. Everyone has a scope of practice and expertise; everyone also has limitations. Find someone who knows their expertise but also can acknowledge their limitations.

4. Do They Get Results?

Ask them what result they have delivered for past clients? Defensiveness on the part of the counselor isn’t a good sign. If you were hiring a contractor to put a new roof on your house, would you not ask them about similar projects they’ve completed?

5. Do They Provide Remarkable Customer Service?

The best counselors over-deliver. You’ll feel as if you would have paid three times as much for the service because of the value you receive. Do they do the little things that make a big difference? Do they treat you as if you are a top priority? Are they easy to talk to because they have good social skills? Everyone has a bad day now and then, but if they just don’t seem to like people, you got a problem.

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6. Are They Organized?

Check out their website. How have they handled initial paperwork and scheduling? Look at their office. Do you get the sense that they are prepared for your meetings? Do they run late? Don’t expect perfection, but disorganization is usually not a great sign.

7. Are They Mature?

Experience doesn’t equal maturity. Mature people have developed the ability to regulate their emotions. They are proactive and not reactive. Do you get the sense that they could provide great service even if they were stressed about something personally?

8. Are They Learners?

Do you get the sense that they are continuous and passionate learners? Beware of hiring someone if you sense they think they learned all they need to know about their field in graduate school.

9. Are They Balanced?

Find a healthy person to help you reach your goals. Do they have a life outside of work? Do you get a sense they prioritize their physical health and emotional health?

Just selecting a great counselor is only part of getting the results you want. You need to do your part, including following through with recommendations, doing homework, and staying committed to the process. My hope is that sorting through this information will help you make the best choice possible so you make the progress you desire.

Question: This isn’t an exhaustive list. What other qualities do you find important?

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