The Top 5 Traits Of A Good Behavioral Therapist

Behavioral therapists need to be ready for anything. Patients are relying on you to help guide their mental and emotional health, and it is up to you to help them. A behavioral therapist should have many characteristics that center around understanding, acceptance, and compassion. Here are five traits a good behavioral therapist practices:


It can be a challenge for some patients, especially those with intellectual disabilities, as they strive for behavioral and emotional health. As a behavioral therapist, you need the patience to help guide them along without pushing them too much. And when there is a setback, you need the patience to understand and restart. It’s important that you show them that they aren’t disappointing you or wasting your time, even when it’s a struggle.


In behavioral therapy, the ability to empathize is essential. You need to understand where your patient is struggling, and why, while reserving judgment. If your patient feels they are being judged, you won’t be able to build a relationship. However, you must strike a balance between empathy and professionalism. In an emotionally charged and fragile environment, you need to be able to understand a patient’s feelings, but also have unbiased observations.


You need to be able to actively listen. This sounds easy, but to truly hear someone and understand what they are saying, you need to observe their tone and body language, rather than simply the words. Make an effort to pay attention to what your patient is trying to communicate. If a patient is struggling, but doesn’t want to say as much, it is your job to observe this and proceed accordingly.


It’s important to have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge in your field. Behavioral therapy is always changing and evolving, and a good behavioral therapist is up on all the new practices. Even after the demands of a difficult day, a behavioral therapist needs to have curiosity that will help drive research and new methods. Curiosity will also drive your ability to analyze data from observations, as you strive to understand what they mean for your patients.

Emotional Maturity

It seems straightforward, as we’ve discussed in many of these qualities the need to understand your patients and be professional at the same time. However, there will be bad days along with the good. As a behavioral therapist, you need the emotional maturity to put your ego to the side, even when a patient is being difficult or cruel. You need to hold strong, not take it personally, and know that you are helping a person in need.

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.