5 Leadership Qualities For Professionals Working In The Mental Health Field

As a mental health professional, you have the opportunity to lead patients and guide their treatments. It’s not only empowering, but also a heavy responsibility. Whether working with children or adults, your guidance and suggestions are impactful. Your patients are relying on your judgment to help them improve their lives.

This isn’t a burden though — it’s an honor to be a leader in their lives. As a leader, you should embody these five qualities to help set the relationships for your career.

#1: Balance

As a leader, you need to know how to balance life and work. If you become too focused on work, you could lose objectivity and be unable to separate your emotions for your client. If you come to focus on your personal life, you won’t be there in the moment with patients, and you’ll lack the empathy needed to understand patients (without judgment). Your own work-life balance is an important, albeit challenging part of your career that impacts the perspective and attention you can provide your patients.

#2: Curiosity

You must have an insatiable curiosity to improve the research and practices of the field. Your curiosity will seek to help people by finding new discoveries, improving how patients receive treatment, and advancing your knowledge of the research and practices others are working on. Your education will never end, which is why you must have an unending curiosity for career improvement.

#3: Adaptability

Sometimes, things aren’t going to go as expected — and when that happens, you’ll need to adjust, adapt, and move on. Whether it’s Plan B or Plan Z, you’ll need to be quick thinking and adapt to the situation. You cannot get hung up in the “what if” or the mistakes that happened. Instead, you’ll need to bring a confident disposition that showcases your ability to adapt as needed.

#4: Confidence

Patients need your confidence. They’ll rely on your sureness. If you lack confidence, you’ll undercut your own leadership, and patients will question whether you’re leading them to better times. At their most vulnerable, patients rely on you to be confident in their pathway to healing. Confidence ensures they feel comfortable in their progress, and helps you maintain the relationship and trust you have with your patients. You are their rock, their stability, and you need to showcase your confidence (even if you don’t feel it.) With that said, confidence is key to success, but not arrogance or cockiness. By being confident, you are adaptable and know you’re not always right.

#5: Forgiveness

Just like you need to adapt to failure, you also need to forgive that failure. You need to forgive your patients for their shortcomings, their mistakes, and their weaknesses. Additionally, you need to forgive yourself, which might be the hardest part. You need to forgive yourself when treatments don’t go according to plan, or when you make a mistake in research, or many other things that could go a bit wrong. By forgiving yourself, you enable your work and patients to keep moving forward.


Pathways of Pennsylvania has been serving communities in Pennsylvania since 1981. Every individual has a right to lead a meaningful and positive life, and we are changing lives, one day at a time. Pathways of Pennsylvania is comprised of four companies: Children’s Behavioral Health, Inc., Pathways Community Services, LLC, Raystown Developmental Services, Inc., and The ReDCo Group, Inc.