5 Traits of Effective Clinical Psychologists

Woman receives counseling from a clinical psychologist

Psychology is a field dedicated to studying the human mind and using that understanding to help individuals, couples and families strengthen their relationships, overcome challenges and enjoy a higher quality of life. Effective psychologists must have some degree of these common traits, which passionate students can cultivate over time.

Active Listeners

Communication is one of the most important skills a psychologist can possess. Aspiring psychologists should practice being active listeners by giving each conversation their full focus and taking the time to consider what other people are saying in a conversation.

Active listening also involves paying attention to nonverbal cues such as body language. This is particularly important for psychologists, as some patients are not comfortable revealing personal information. A sharp-eyed psychologist can determine when a patient is having trouble communicating openly.

Empathetic Professionals

When a psychologist meets a new patient, one of the first steps he or she will take is to establish a good rapport, or connection. A good connection is important because it encourages patients to trust the professional and to open up about their feelings. Empathetic psychologists tend to have an easier time establishing a strong rapport. In order to convey their genuine concern, psychologists use calming tone of voice and communicate clearly.

At the same time, however, psychologists must also maintain a professional demeanor at all times. Psychologists sometimes work with difficult patients who may have committed crimes or who conflict with their own worldview and values. It is important that psychologists mask their own adverse reactions when necessary

Ethical Individuals

Many professions require strict ethical codes and standards of conduct, and psychology is no exception. Effective psychologists take the initiative to follow the standards set by the American Psychological Association and their own state licensing boards. They conduct themselves according to these strict standards in all their professional tasks — from insurance billing and client counseling to case management.

Patient Counselors

Therapy is not a fast process. It takes time to help clients overcome major problems in their lives. Psychologists need to have plenty of patience. They must be able to maintain their focus while patients talk through their problems. Every patient makes progress at his or her own pace. In some cases, it may take years to make progress, especially if a patient is dealing with significant trauma.

Lifelong Learners

Effective psychologists would likely describe themselves as lifelong learners. The science of psychology is continually changing with new studies and insights. These professionals need to stay on top of the latest information in order to help their clients to the best of their ability. They may attend professional events such as seminars and lectures, network with their colleagues and read professional journals.

If you feel passionate about pursuing a career in psychology, consider enrolling at Grand Canyon University. The College of Humanities and Social Sciences offers a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, designed to align with the standards established by the American Psychological Association. It provides a foundational framework in cognitive neuroscience, experimental psychology, abnormal psychology, health psychology and other fields. To learn more about these programs, visit our website or complete the form on this page.

Approved by the assistant dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences on Dec. 8, 2023

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.