Okay, so really there are a number of important counselor qualities and skills. You have to be able to be quiet and listen, to have good questions, and comments, to be able to follow a line of thinking, to have some idea of a goal, etc. But, maybe the most important quality is the ability to be self-reflective. Reflexive responses may be useful (these come from the gut) but they can be dangerous in that we have little thought and review of these kinds of responses.
At the retreat today I suggested that the unexamined life may create more opportunity for damage in counseling than the lack of knowledge of how to help a person. We may assume that our “truth-telling” capacity is good when it is really merely harsh. We may assume our “listening” skills are good when really, we are hiding from dealing with the big pink elephant in the room. We may think our advice and information is very important when really it merely exists to show off what we know.
We looked at Galatians 6:1f where we are called to help others by restoring gently, carrying burdens, and watching our own lives closely. (I got this from Paul Tripp some years ago). This passage shows where we may fail to care well for others.
Of course, there is also the danger of the over-examined life. Such a life leads to rumination, anxious second-guessing, and paralysis by analysis.
Retreat is going well, but wet and cold…
One response to “The most important counselor capacity”
Self-reflection is also needful to recognize that one is over-examining. Others could also point it out. But then, others can also point out things we aren’t examining that need to be seen.
Perhaps there are two avenues of self-reflection. One is self-initiated. We hold the mirror to ourselves. In the second type, another holds the mirror for us to look into. The self-reflection of looking into that mirror is a wise response.
That reminds me of a third avenue, perhaps the best mirror of all, the Word of God.
I suppose they all require the same attitude. Willingness to look, humility to accept what we see and commitment to change.