Do You Have a Passion for Empathy and Helping People? You May Want to Be a Psychotherapist
A therapist sitting in a chair talking to a client.

How to Become a Psychotherapist

Every person who originally decides to become a therapist has an internal need to want to reach out and help others. This is quite commendable, especially in today’s society where it seems more people are out for themselves instead of assisting others.

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There are numerous types of therapists out there for almost every occasion. There are divorce therapists, addiction therapists, school therapists, trauma therapists, and those are just naming a few.

So, what is a psychotherapist and how do you become one in the first place? Read on to find the answer to how to become a psychotherapist.

What Does a Psychotherapist Do?

A psychotherapist is a professional that can counsel people who suffer from mental health conditions, whether it be depression, addiction, anxiety, stress, or a variety of other mental ailments.

All of psychotherapy is basically talk therapy, as people try to solve their issues through discussion. They try to understand their feelings and talk with a psychotherapist in hopes of figuring out solutions to their problems. A psychotherapist will listen closely and offer compassion without judgment. Usually, the sessions will be once a week to many times a week depending on the client’s need.

A psychotherapist may work as a licensed professional counselor, a psychiatrist, psychologist, or even as a social worker counselor. There is a need for a good psychotherapist in many fields. In addition, they can make a rather good living with average annual salaries ranging from $50,000 and well into the six figures.

What You Need to Become a Psychotherapist

There are a few avenues a person can pursue when choosing to become a psychotherapist. However, it is best to start in high school, if possible, by taking a psychology course or two to determine if the field is something that interests you. In fact, if your high school has a peer counseling group, it would be wise to get involved in it to see if you might have the skill needed to offer guidance to those who are struggling.

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Undergraduate Degree

An undergraduate entering college may choose to major in an assortment of fields that could work well down the road for becoming a psychotherapist. The college student may choose to major in social work, sociology, therapy, or psychology. Whatever the case, be sure to dedicate yourself completely to your undergraduate courses, as the knowledge attained from them will be needed for your graduate degree.

While studying during these four years in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree, take this time to determine exactly what type of psychotherapy you will want to pursue. This will help you choose which graduate program is going to be right for you.

Understand the Time Commitment Needed

If you choose to become a psychologist, it requires a doctorate, which will take extra years of study compared to if you choose to become a counselor with a master’s degree. Not only are you making a time commitment, but also a considerable financial commitment as college is quite expensive.

Choose a Graduate Program

This will require a bit of research as different colleges will offer various graduate programs to choose from. However, by realizing your desired focus, there should be plenty of accredited programs to help with your decision.

There will be a need for clinical supervised hours as well during this time. It usually takes quite a number of hours before a person can become a licensed psychotherapist. By working with a licensed therapist, you will be gaining experience in the field before being set out on your own. Depending upon the state you reside in, the requirements may differ slightly. A final exam will usually be needed as well to determine you have the knowledge needed to succeed in this field.

Continued Professional Development

Your education does not end there when you choose to become a psychotherapist. Just like with many careers in the medical field, there will be required professional development. These workshops will give you the chance to explore the field even further and gain much-needed knowledge to help your clients.

All in all, it is a rewarding field where you will be able to help many people from all walks of life. Depending upon your choices in schooling though, it will take a commitment of anywhere from 6 to 10 years before you will be fully licensed and ready to branch out on your own. It should be an interesting career choice that will yield many satisfying moments as you assist others in overcoming their problems.

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