What Makes a Good Therapist?

What makes a good therapist? This is the eternal question that many people ask, from the potential client to well-known therapists (i.e., Rogers). If we ask a group of mental health professionals this question, they may feel compelled to respond with a canned answer – “good listener, positive regard, empathy, etc.”. They may add that having a good understanding of a theory is what contributes to being a good therapist.

What makes a good therapist? This is the eternal question that many people ask, from the potential client to well-known therapists (i.e., Rogers). If we ask a group of mental health professionals this question, they may feel compelled to respond with a canned answer – “good listener, positive regard, empathy, etc.”. They may add that having a good understanding of a theory is what contributes to being a good therapist.

My take on what makes a good therapist includes the basics: being empathic, being a good listener, having a basic knowledge of theoretical frameworks, etc. However, an effective therapist is the one who brings his psychological knowledge, the emphatic persona, and the spiritual self to the therapy session. The psychological knowledge is essential to being a good therapist; without it, we are just paraprofessionals of the healing arts. The emphatic persona brings the warmth and human goodness to the therapy setting. The spiritual self brings the deeper understanding of what it means to be a special creature interconnected to a higher being.

Julio Reyna, Psy.D.

Initially published on 9/24/2006

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