Close this search box.
Close this search box.

9 Ways Mental Health Professionals Can Improve Counseling Skills

A strong alliance between client and therapist requires effective counseling skills. This combination of skills and competencies offers clients the support they need to get through their treatment, reach their goal of surpassing the pressures of modern life, and lead them to live a more fulfilling and meaningful life. Thus, a professional must be sufficiently trained to identify and monitor changes in the client’s psychological behavior to provide appropriate treatment. 

Moreover, counselors should provide individuals with appropriate guidance and continuous support throughout the treatment. It is a lifelong learning process for counselors since enhanced clinical supervision can foster new ideas and facilitate patient growth.

Health professionals can improve their counseling skills by following these tips:

1. Lifelong learning

Practicing counseling without a commitment to professional development can be increasingly difficult, and counselors will often be limited in their ability to provide quality service.

You can achieve continuous professional development in several ways, including seminars, workshops, classes, research papers, and other alternative learning options like online courses and peer support groups.

Obtaining a post-graduate degree doesn’t mean that learning has stopped. Programs like the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) certificate can help you grow professionally and personally. Furthermore, this program is designed to assist in your career development and prepare you to impact patient care in a globalized world positively.

Considering the busy schedule of professionals, many world-renowned institutes now offer PMHNP certificate programs online that offer geographically unrestricted learning with flexible hours.

2. Flexibility

A good counselor understands multicultural issues in clinical practice and has a flexible worldview.

There will be a lot of variation in each client’s background, past experiences, and involvement in therapy, so you must be able to switch from one perspective to another based on each client’s needs.

Recognizing when a counselor and client aren’t the right matches is another important aspect of flexibility. If you identify that things aren’t working between you and your client, refer them to another professional who can help fulfill their needs; this shows your ultimate goal is to accomplish the client’s good health. It is one of the essential characteristics of good counseling.

3. Sense of Humor

A counselor has to sit through some uncomfortable, upsetting, and often painful stories. However, counseling is best when the counselor and client can also enjoy the process of resolving the problem.

Having the right timing is crucial in short-term counseling sessions. Still, counselors shouldn’t ignore the valuable skills of developing a sense of humor, as it helps establish a connection with their patients.

When your client seems to be in pain, try cheering them up. Your humor and comprehensive understandings are the most valuable tools you can use in therapy to make clients comfortable and sometimes distractible from most traumatic experiences.

4. Ability to Listen

Listening may be a given in therapy sessions, but listening to clients as a counselor can be challenging.

Counselors need to listen not just to what’s said but how it’s expressed, the context in which it is said, and how it relates to the needs of that specific client. Furthermore, when listening to a patient, you should consider the content, presentation, and surrounding factors.

It is most important that a counselor knows how to listen without judging or evaluating. Sometimes, clients will come to you with complicated issues and need you to give them space to share everything they feel without feeling shamed or criticized.

Try to Develop a non-reactive approach as a counselor and understand the difference between observation and evaluation; this will help you improve the quality of assessments and create a positive relationship between you and your client.

5. Accessibility & Authenticity

Accessibility plays an important role in gaining clients’ trust. However, you should also be sincere and compassionate in your communication, listening, and professional behavior.

Creating an empathetic connection with each client is essential to the therapeutic process and the basis of a successful counselor-client relationship.

6. Self-Reflection

Effective therapists understand that it is just as crucial to examine themselves as it is to observe others.

Education and career success in mental health depends on understanding the concept of “Self as Instrument.” Counseling students are taught to feel well, think well, and act well. 

It is easier for therapists to empathize with clients when they feel well. To think well, one must think critically, conceptualize the client in theoretical terms, and show good academic skills. Acting well means doing one’s best to serve one’s clients, community, and profession.

Using self as an Instrument allows you to better connect to clients and facilitate positive change.

7. People-centeredness

Though it’s not technically a skill, it’s vital to a counselor’s success.

Do you have the energy and drive to sit with people through their best and worst moments? How well can you listen to your client’s stories, no matter how challenging or long they may be? And do you think you’ll still be able to do it in the next ten years?

As a mental health professional, you should be committed to facilitating positive change and creating human connections, as it is the key to success and fulfillment in mental health.

8. Volunteering

Volunteering in the non-profit or community sector is a good idea if you are interested in learning more about working in counseling or similar support roles. Besides gaining skills and knowledge, you can also have the opportunity to gain actual experience working in a community organization.

Additionally, volunteering boosts one’s confidence and gives one the feeling of contributing to the community; it is an excellent way to build your profile and a strong professional network.

9. Self-care

Problems related to counseling, with other factors previously mentioned, are likely to lead to burnout in counselors. Understanding how stress and burnout affect individuals is the first step toward finding ways to encourage self-care and minimize the risk of burnout.

The key to taking care of yourself is to find a balance between your work and personal life. Try and keep the sessions out of your mind when you’re not working; this is the best solution to prevent stress.


You must possess the expertise and various skills to succeed as a counselor. It is possible to develop these skills through learning, education, practice, and guidance.

Good counseling skills are crucial to building strong therapeutic alliances, accomplishing agreed-upon goals, and facilitating successful psychological outcomes.

By investing time and energy, you can learn new skills and improve existing ones to help people achieve a better quality of life by changing their thinking, feeling, and behavior.

Open communication and empathy are essential tools to help clients solve their problems. By empowering them, you can overcome existing and new challenges.

Examine the skills discussed in this article and determine the support you need to develop them further. Making yourself as skilled as possible ultimately benefits you and your clients.