The purpose of this paper was to examine the research on the characteristics, traits, and attributes of effective counselors. It was noted that the research in this area has been relatively meager but that over the years, some information has been found. Specifically, review of the literature showed that highly effective counselors tend to be people who possess many of the traits associated with people who are self-actualized, that is people who have let go of many of the obstacles to their personal growth.
Also, effective counselors tend to be those who are caring and understanding. They have strong interpersonal skills and belief in their own abilities; that is, they are confident with good self-esteem. They tend to be genuine and authentic in their communications and relations with others with a large capacity for intimacy.
Effective counselors are also unafraid of interpersonal risks such as being rejected. They are trustworthy, self-exploring, and self-disclosing. They have high levels of personal energy, and tolerance for ambiguity and a non-discriminatory nature. Further, counselors tend to be non-dogmatic in their perspective.
Igoe and Speer (1994) have noted that:
The ability to counsel...skillfully is an art. The counselor's responsibility is to provide information, to listen objectively; and to be supportive, caring and trustworthy. Counselors do not make decisions; they help clients arrive at the decisions that best suit them. (p.718)
In some instances, counselors are highly effective in attaining the objectives specified by Igoe and Speer; however, in other instances, they are not. This leads to the question: What are the personal characteristics of counselors who tend to be effective with most of their clients?
In a review of the literature on the attributes and traits of highly effective counselors, Peterson and Nisenholz (1994) noted that over the years, there have been fairly few st...