Being a good psychologist is not always an easy task , as this profession can be stressful and overwhelming.
Dealing with other people and their problems, sometimes serious, and helping them manage their emotions correctly can be exhausting. It is well known among psychology professionals that, especially those involved in psychological therapy, the first people to come to therapy sessions are the therapists themselves. This can help them to be more objective when treating their patients.
Principles of Being a Good Psychologist
Many times, the difference between being a good psychologist and a bad psychologist is found in the attitude, in following a series of principles or habits that improve good professional work. Psychological therapy, sometimes, may not work, but we psychologists must avoid that bad practices are the reason why the patient has not benefited from therapeutic help.
But, what are the principles that a good professional of psychology should apply? what should a good psychologist or therapist be like? We explain them below.
Never judge a patient
Throughout his professional career, a psychologist may meet patients who think differently from him in many ways . In addition, some of the experiences revealed by patients may be incomprehensible to many people. But the psychologist or therapist must understand the situation, and although he or she does not share the patient’s way of acting or thinking, he or she must never impose his or her opinion.
The psychologist is a professional who has been trained to provide the patient with the necessary tools to improve their psychological well-being. Therefore, a good psychologist neither judges nor criticises his patients .
2. Be accessible
Patients are usually people who need professional help for various reasons, but they are usually in a situation of psychological and emotional distress. A good psychologist allows his clients to feel comfortable in their sessions and is accessible. This helps the client to open up and feel prepared to overcome their fears.
3. Active listening
The therapist must pay full attention to his patients , so he must not only hear what they say, but also listen to them fully. This means that he must listen actively, that is, pay attention with the five senses to what the patient says.
Furthermore, the psychologist should not continuously interrupt his patient during the session , because it is not positive for maintaining the therapist-patient connection. In this sense, it is essential that the psychologist provides an excellent rapport in his sessions.
4. Being self-conscious and sincere
The therapeutic relationship is not always easy , because psychologists are human beings with their own emotions and thoughts.
But the good psychologist is self-conscious and knows when to stop being objective and to rely on prejudice in helping his patients. Furthermore, good psychologists are honest with both the patient and themselves, which allows them to guide the patient on the path to recovery.
5. Being in continuous training
A good psychologist is continually training , because he must be able to understand and care for his patients in the best possible way.Our society is constantly changing and technological advances are changing the way we interact with the environment.
To understand the current reality it is necessary for the therapist to constantly update his knowledge. Training is basic to continue improving and to continue growing at a professional level.
6. Be ethical
The psychologist, besides possessing theoretical and practical knowledge for the correct development of his profession, must be aware of his resources and limitations and of the ethical principles that govern the exercise of his profession . There is a deontological code that all mental health professionals must strictly follow and that guarantees a professional and quality service.
The social responsibility of the psychologist obliges him/her to respect the dignity of his/her patients and to preserve and protect fundamental human rights. Among some of the psychologist’s ethical obligations, we can find: using their knowledge to promote human welfare or maintaining professional secrecy.
7. Communicating effectively
Because psychologists deal with people, they need to master certain interpersonal and communication skills.
One of the reasons why there is a good professional relationship between a therapist and a patient is the good communication and understanding between both , it is absolutely necessary that the professional has a series of communicative resources that make his message clear to the patient.
8. Be patient
One of the qualities a therapist should possess is patience . Throughout the therapeutic sessions there may be ups and downs on the part of the patient, something that can also affect the psychologist, making him/her question his/her method of working.
The psychologist-patient relationship is not always idyllic, and on many occasions the psychologist must be tolerant and patient, and must be able to transmit that patience so that the patient is aware that the ups and downs are normal.
9. Being empathetic
But the therapist must not only be patient in front of the person in front of him, but, in order to carry out his professional tasks successfully, he must be empathetic.
This means that you must be able to put yourself in the place of the other to feel what you feel and think as you think . In this way you will be able to understand the extent of the problem the person is experiencing and you will be able to help him or her. If the psychologist does not manage to be empathetic, he may minimize the problem the patient is experiencing, which could lead him to use inappropriate tools.
10. Derive when necessary
The psychologist must understand that he or she cannot help the patient with all of his or her questions, nor is he or she an expert in solving all of the problems. One of the principles of being a good psychologist is knowing how to refer when necessary .
Therefore, the psychologist should refer the patient to another professional so that the latter can benefit from the help provided by another health professional. If he or she does not do so, he or she is committing professional malpractice.
- Official College of Psychologists of Spain. (2010). Code of Ethics. Available at: https://www.cop.es/pdf/codigo-deontologico-consejo-adaptacion-ley-omnibus.pdf
- Badós López, A. and García Grau, A. (2011). Therapeutic skills. Available at: http://diposit.ub.edu/dspace/bitstream/2445/18382/1/Habilidades%20terap%C3%A9uticas.pdf