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An Overview of The Personal Characteristics, Strengths and Weaknesses of an Effective Counsellor

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Counseling and therapy is not about solving people’s problems but helping people to cope with living life, problems and all. In the contents of this essay, I will be reflecting on the personal and effective characteristics, core competencies, personal strengths and weaknesses that I have as a future counselor. Furthermore, I will also be looking into the principles, theories, practice of counseling in South Africa and how they relate to me as an individual and a future counselor and/or psychologist.

The Personal Characteristics of an Effective Counselor

Have an Identity

Personally, I am not the type of person to be easily influenced against my thoughts and beliefs, although I am a shy person, I speak my mind and stand up for myself when I need to do so. Knowing who I am, what I want and what is most valuable to me is a characteristic that will come in handy to me as a counselor and also to my clients as well because I will not only advise them of confidence and courage but I will be practicing what I preach.

Respect and Appreciate Themselves

“The most powerful leadership tool you have is your own example’’ [John Wooden]. By being respectful and appreciative towards myself, I display the kind of behavior I want and give out to other people, which will allow me to build a healthy and respectful relationship between me and my clients.

Are Open to Change

Being able to accept change and go out of my comfort zone in order for me to work towards becoming what I want to become will help me be able to adapt to whatever situation I face in my career path as I might have to work in different locations.

Make Choices that are Life Oriented

My past choices and mistakes do not block my perspective on the present and the future. I acknowledge the past mistakes and use them as lessons that I apply going forward, this helps me both personally and professionally when applying the same characteristic to my clients’ situations.

Are Authentic, Sincere and Honest

Being truthful, authentic and sincere is essential in counseling. The only issue with my honesty is that it is open and naked, I tell it like it is and most of the time I come across as being rude, harsh or too strict and this will disadvantage me as a counselor because clients might end up being scared to open up to me.

Have a Sense of Humor

Putting the events of life in perspective and not taking everything personally grants me the ability to help clients see their problem in another way and enhance the chances of solving that problem.

Make Mistakes and Are Willing to Admit Them

Admitting to making mistakes is not a weakness but strength because I will be able to show my clients that making mistakes is okay but admitting to them and making things right is emotionally and physically beneficial.

Generally Live in the Present

The past and the future are unknown, what we have is the gift of the present. Counselors should be in the present in order to relate to the present problems of their clients.

Appreciate the Influence of Culture

As a counselor, it is important to acknowledge the variety of cultures to be able to be of good help to my clients.

Have a Sincere Interest in the Welfare of Others

This helps in building a relationship between me as the counselor and the client.

Possess Effective Interpersonal Skills

Communication is vital in any relationship, whether personal or professional.

Are Passionate

Doing my job because I love it and not for any other reason will reap positive outcomes for me and my clients.

Able To Maintain Healthy Boudaries

Separate personal and professional life for a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

Core Competencies

An effective counselor ought to have the ability to exert control over their life, deal with problems effectively, and make behavioral and environmental changes rather than always adapting to circumstances.

Strengths and Weaknesses

My Personal Strengths

I am a very motivated, driven, committed and hardworking person who always wants to do best. By being self-motivated, I will be a good motivation to my clients and colleagues also.

My Personal Weaknesses

I am a shy, impatient person who gets easily annoyed. I ignore a lot of stuff to avoid conflicts. Not good at elaborating and explaining things in a way other people would understand and that’s disadvantageous because it will cause a lot of misunderstandings between me and others.

Models Of Counselling

Psychosexual Development

Psychosexual development is a complex process involving genetic, hormonal and environmental factors and can be further defined by one’s gender identity, gender role and sexual orientation.11 From: Principles of gender-specific medicine [third edition]2017. Freud’s Psychoanalytic theory states that human development and human behavior are influenced by the relationship between the conscious and the unconscious aspects of our minds; these consist of three key concepts, namely the ID, the EGO and the SUPEREGO.

The Stages Of Psychosexual Development

Oral stage, anal stage, phallic stage, latent stage, and the genital stage.

Ego-defence Mechanisms

These are the unconscious mechanisms in our bodies that help us cope with anxiety, facing reality and prevent the ego from being overwhelmed. Ego-defense mechanisms include the following: denial, reaction formation, rationalization, identification and compensation among others.


According to Freud, the way we behave is determined by nonsensical forces, unconscious motivations and biological and instinctual drives as these evolve through key psychosexual stages in the first six years of life. The events that occur in the early stages of life are the ones that determine our personalities as adults. Our instincts also determine our survival, growth and development, not forgetting creativity. These were the characteristics, strengths and weaknesses that I have as a future counselor and they will be either good or bad for me as a future counselor.


  3. Du Preez, E., & Roos, V., [2008]. The development of cousellor identity – A visual expression. South African Journal of Psychology, 38[4], p.700

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