A therapist sits on a couch listening to her patient.

Therapists have been romanticized in popular culture as individuals who possess the magical ability to delve into the human psyche and help people navigate their emotional struggles. However, the reality of being a therapist is much more complex. 

It's not just about sitting in a cozy office, nodding sagely and occasionally offering profound insights. It's a complex profession that requires a unique blend of skills, knowledge and personality traits. The key to a fulfilling career in therapy or mental health counseling, as with any profession, lies in aligning your personality with your career choice. 

What Does a Therapist Do?

At its core, a therapist's role is to help individuals, couples, families and groups understand and manage a wide range of mental health issues and life challenges. This could include dealing with stress, anxiety, depression, self-esteem issues, trauma, addiction, relationship problems and more.

A typical day for a therapist might involve conducting one-on-one counseling sessions, facilitating group therapy, creating treatment plans and documenting clients' progress. However, the profession is incredibly diverse, with different specializations such as clinical psychology, counseling psychology, school psychology, and marriage and family therapy, each with its unique roles and responsibilities.

What are the Skills Needed to Become a Therapist?

  1. Empathy: Therapists must be able to understand and share the feelings of their clients. This involves active listening and responding with compassion and understanding.
  2. Communication: Effective verbal and non-verbal communication is crucial. Therapists must be able to convey complex ideas and emotions in a clear and accessible manner.
  3. Problem-solving: Therapists often need to help clients find solutions to their problems. This requires creativity, critical thinking, and the ability to see issues from multiple perspectives.
  4. Patience: Therapy is a long-term process, and therapists must be patient and persistent, even when progress is slow.
  5. Ethical judgment: Therapists must adhere to a strict code of ethics, including maintaining confidentiality and avoiding dual relationships.

Which Personality Types Make the Best Therapists?

Certain personality traits can make individuals more suited to the profession of therapy. Using the Big Five personality traits and TypeFinder types as references, we can link personality with professional aptitude.

Big Five Personality Traits of Therapists

  1. Openness: Therapists need to be open to new ideas and perspectives, as they often work with diverse clients with different worldviews and experiences.
  2. Conscientiousness: This trait is crucial for therapists, as they need to be organized, dependable and diligent in their work.
  3. Extraversion: Extraverted therapists may find it easier to engage with clients and facilitate group therapy sessions. However, less extraverted therapists may find it easier to listen to client concerns and give thoughtful insights. 
  4. Agreeableness: Therapists need to be kind, empathetic and cooperative. High levels of agreeableness can help build strong therapeutic relationships.
  5. Neuroticism: This trait is orthogonal to the profession. However, therapists with higher levels of neuroticism may need to take extra care to manage their own emotional health.

You can take our Big Five personality test to see how these traits play out in your life.

TypeFinder Types of Therapists:

Certain TypeFinder types may find the profession of therapy more suitable. For instance, INFJs, ISFJs and ENFJs with their natural empathy and desire to help others often excel in this field. INTPs and INTJs, with their analytical thinking, may find the research aspect of psychology appealing.

Take our TypeFinder assessment to find out your unique type!

How to Become a Therapist

If you're considering a career in therapy, start by exploring the field through internships or shadowing professionals. Pursue a bachelor's degree in psychology or a related field, followed by a master's degree in counseling or psychology. You might also consider taking career assessments like the Career Personality Profiler test, Holland Code, or DISC to guide your decision-making.

Every personality has unique potential within the profession of therapy. Whether you're an extroverted people-person or an introverted thinker, there's a place for you in this diverse field. 

Remember, the key to a fulfilling career is finding a niche that aligns with your personality and skills. So, take the next step, explore the profession and see if becoming a therapist is the right path for you.

Truity was founded in 2012 to bring you helpful information and assessments to help you understand yourself and use your strengths. We are based in San Francisco, CA.