What qualities allow a Therapist to go above and beyond in his or her career?

Physical and Occupational Therapy and Speech Language Pathology, as healthcare professions, depend a great deal on standardized testing to determine whom to allow into their professional preparation programs. However, some of the most important qualities of successful therapists go undetected by standardized tests.

If you’re currently working as a therapist or considering physical, occupational or speech therapy as a profession, it’s important to understand the qualities you’ll need simply to perform your job. By fully developing these characteristics, you won’t just be delivering patient care—you’ll be a great therapist whom patients trust and respect.

The top six qualities of the best therapy professionals:

To be a highly effective therapist, it helps if you are:

A Good Example.

To effectively treat and transport your patients (if necessary), you’ll need to be in great physical shape. Your own physical condition will also serve as a great example for your patients. This means regular exercise and healthy eating.

A Life Long Learner.

The medical industry is constantly evolving. The information and treatment methodologies you learned in college will change with ongoing research and technology. Keep yourself ahead of the curve by constantly reading up and learning more through your continuing education credits, industry journals, research studies, etc.

Firm, yet gentle.

Therapy involves challenging your patients to attempt and succeed at treatments that may at first be very difficult for them. You’ll need to push your patients but remain a positive, supportive force at the same time.

A Great Conversationalist.

By understanding a lot about current events, pop culture, sports, etc., you’ll have common grounds that can help you relate to patients during treatments. It will also make you an interesting person with whom to interact. And this can help you build rapport with those you treat.

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Able to Overlook Offenses.

Difficult patients may be angry about their situation and take it out on you. As a healthcare professional, you’ll need to weather the moods of your patients while remaining positive and encouraging. To avoid bringing your day home with you and letting it affect your personal life, it can help tremendously if you assume good intentions and choose to forgive others, no matter what comes your way. And make sure that these attitudes towards your patients carry over to create healthy relationships with co-workers, as well.

Your compassion for helping your patients heal allows you to see them as people and not just cases. When your patients understand that you really care about them as individuals and want to see them heal, they’ll be more likely to trust you and follow your professional advice.

A Great Communicator.

Yes, your head is filled with a lot of information about anatomy and a recent scientific study. However, you’ll need to communicate treatments with your patients in a way they’ll understand. This means avoiding industry jargon and medical terms.

When you love what you do, it shows. Not only will this help you to greet each new day with a positive, can-do attitude, it will help you stay calm and level-headed through the toughest patient cases. A love of your profession and commitment to excellence will drive you to continually improve as a therapist.  This continual striving for improvement is the quality that develops greatness.

Did we miss anything?

What quality do you rely on as a therapist?  Is there anything else that those standardized tests are missing? Please add your input in the comments below and keep the conversation going.

Best Practices for Therapists: Important Character Traits that Standardized Tests Can’t Measure. was last modified: by



  1. July 17, 2015

    Reliability, timeliness (their te is important too.. Be respectful), a good listener, ability to redirect gently, ability to see the good and focus on the positive gains, ability to hear pain in all it’s forms and to be able to empathize but not enable, to see that individuals world and too modify therapy to fit THEIR world, to communicate that we all are in this together

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