According to medical ethics, as a psychological professional you have to always be respectful, responsible, honest, sincere, careful, and competent. You also have to guarantee that your treatments are objective and scientific. But being a good psychologist goes beyond just having those traits.
It’s important for a psychologist to know how to put themselves in their patient’s shoes. They need to have the mental strategies and tools to understand this person’s fears and needs and the specifics of their situation. Only once they’ve reached that level of understanding will they know how to handle their case and be able to help them.
A lot of people seem to think empathy is some kind of mystical quality. But psychologists have understood the human mind so deeply that they can reshape their ideas around their patient’s.
What this means is that they can understand any other way of thinking, no matter how different it is from theirs. That helps them give the same importance to other people’s ideas as they do to their own.
Being a good psychologist means not having prejudices, stereotypes, or preconceived notions and beliefs. That means you have to be open to new ideas, things that are different or unfamiliar to you.
This quality is great for anyone to live their life more fully, but it’s absolutely necessary for psychologists. You never know who’s going to come to your office. So you always have to be open to getting to know them: their essence, culture, interests and ideas.
To get to this level of tolerance, you have to have escaped from your comfort zone before. That’s the place where you feel protected and sheltered by familiar things. So it’s important to question, discover, and dig deeper into things. You also have to accept that all the things around you can be a true source of inspiration.
This one has a lot of similarities to open-mindedness. Security means a good psychologist is sure of themselves and their professional abilities. If you don’t seem confident, it will be hard for you to give that feeling to the person coming to you for help.
That doesn’t mean you have to be pretentious, overly direct, or totally insensitive. It means explaining the steps the patient needs to take in a clear, concise, and confident way. Things that will harm them are hesitating, being unclear, sending mixed messages, or seeing them as inferior.
To be very open-minded, a good psychologist has to do the very important work of introspection. That means looking at yourself, analyzing yourself, and understanding yourself. Only by getting to know yourself better will you be able to manage your mental states.
This quality is somewhere between comfort and understanding. It’s important for the patient to feel comfortable around their psychologist. Then they will be able to tell them about their situation, problems, intentions, and deepest secrets.
The other quality that goes into this one is empathy, which was number one on our list. These two things together create accessibility. It’s the thing that makes it easy and natural for your patients to tell you about their issues.
You have to know how to interpret what a patient tells you if you want to take action. Since you can’t just cut off the flow of conversation, you have to know how to pick out the truly important bits. You have to stick with what’s important and know what to leave out.
This ability will also help you apply better mediation techniques, and that will ensure successful therapy. It’s also an essential part of coming up with a treatment plan and evaluating the results.
This might be one of the biggest challenges for psychologists in their daily practice. That’s even more true if they aren’t very experienced. Knowing how to bring all your theoretical knowledge to real cases isn’t always easy.
That’s why it’s absolutely necessary to master certain kinds of communication and social skills if you want to be a good psychologist. Getting better at this art and knowing how to interact with people are fundamental qualities.
For example, it’s good to know how to come up with questions during a session, or pick up on something that might be the main trigger for a disorder or neurosis. You also have to be able to organize time well in your sessions, and make sure you use those minutes effectively.
Knowing how to listen
If you can create a relaxed environment in your office, you’ll already be halfway there. If you can create a feeling of intimacy, the other person will be able to talk to you calmly and honestly. Knowing how to listen means always having an engaged and open attitude and showing interest in what they say.
In other words, you have to be a good listener and show them that you are. So it’s a good idea not to interrupt. Let them talk freely. That way they’ll be able to answer their own questions once they’ve said them out loud.
Leaving space for silence is also very informative. You should watch how a patient experiences these pauses. Their hand movements, their posture, their expressions: how do they seem in those moments? It all says something.
As you can see, being a good psychologist doesn’t just mean having certain skills. It also means knowing how to use them.