How to Become a Therapist 
Last Updated on September 16, 2023
When you start planning your career, you will probably evaluate many different jobs and try to choose the most suitable option for your skills, desires, and conditions. If you are visiting Hypnotes and come to read this post, you have most likely made up your mind or are inclined to decide on following a career path towards getting into therapy/counseling; and start to research ways to become a therapist. Then you have come to the right place to acquire extensive information to build a well-directed career plan to become a therapist.
What is a Therapist?
Therapists are professionals trained to help people improve their mental well-being through therapy sessions and non-pharmaceutical methods. The term “therapist” may refer to the different job titles in the field, ranging from the social workers to the school psychologists.
These mental health professionals have acquired a formal education to become a therapist, and they must be graduates of specific college programs to start practicing. Additionally, they should be good listeners and like to help and support other people to be a therapist.
What Does a Therapist Do?
To become a therapist, one of the primary things to learn is what a therapist does. Therapists mainly deal with their client’s mental health and try to assess individuals; to reveal the underlying reasons behind their cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and social problems and improve their mental health. Therapists act as a guide for their clients in the therapy sessions. They ask the right questions to direct them to find the reasons behind their problems and develop new ways to cope with them by mental suggestions.
Therapists can work with individuals one-to-one, or they may work with couples or groups for different types of sessions. They can deal with individuals to solve their problems with their family members, such as their spouses or children, or help people overcome their drug addiction or undesired behaviors. Additionally, they can help individuals heal their mental illnesses by steering them to create a way to recover from them. You will come across a therapist in several different settings like schools, hospitals, or in their private offices.
Can a therapist prescribe medication?
In the United States, the prescribing of medicine is closely controlled, and, in most cases and states, therapists cannot prescribe medication if they do not have training in the medical school. In some the states, like New Mexico and Louisiana, therapists can prescribe some medicines after completing the educational procedures and the common educational requirements to become a therapist.
Training and Certifications to Become a Therapist
There is a long way to go to be a therapist before starting to practice, and you will need to complete several important steps to become a therapist.
What Do You Need to Become a Therapist?
You must first enroll in psychology or a program to obtain a bachelor’s degree to become a therapist. Afterward, you must complete a master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Mental Health Counseling, or other relevant programs to be eligible to start your career as a professional therapist
Apart from these procedures to become a therapist, you should find detailed information on how to become a licensed therapist. The websites of the administrative institutions can provide basic information on this issue, and you must apply for the licensing procedure of the regulatory administration in the state that you will be practicing and must pass the exams and fulfill the certification requirement to become a therapist.
Career Options for Therapists – Types of Therapists
After completing your education and training in the psychology major and obtaining your master’s degree in counseling to become a therapist, you can make a selection to develop your career with further expertise by increasing your knowledge in the following therapy types.
- School Counselor
- Clinical Social Worker
- Group counselor or therapist
- Behavioral therapist
- Child therapist
- Cognitive-behavioral therapist
- Youth therapists
- Trauma therapist
How Long Does It Take to Become a Therapist?
To become a therapist, you must graduate from an undergraduate program in a relevant field and complete a master’s degree in psychology or related fields. Therefore, it will take around six years to start your counseling job as a professional after getting into a psychology program.
However, if you want to increase your expertise, expand your knowledge, and attract more clients, you need to continue your education in a doctoral program, which will increase the period up to 10 years.
How Much Do Therapists Make?
Even if you may have great enthusiasm to become a therapist, you must also consider the salary of therapists to make your living. According to the data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average pay for therapists per hour is $23.98, while their yearly average income is $49,880.
What is the Difference Between Therapist and Psychologist – Therapist vs. Psychologist?
“Therapist” can be defined as the general term that refers to all professionals in the counseling field or any mental health professional with a master’s degree. Psychologists are more experienced professionals in counseling with a more advanced level of training and education, even though it is also used as another name for a therapist.
What is the Difference Between Therapist and Psychiatrist – Therapist vs. Psychiatrist?
A therapist is a mental well-being expert who helps individuals develop solutions to cope with their mental problems. After getting a master’s degree in the counseling field, they earn their title and do not prescribe medicine.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors, and you must graduate from a medical school and later obtain Psychiatrists expertise in clinical psychology to become a psychiatrist. They can prescribe medicine and apply medical treatments to patients.
However, these two occupations are related to each other. Most of the time, they need to be carried out simultaneously and in cooperation to achieve the utmost benefit for the clients.
What is the Difference Between Therapist and Counselor – Therapist vs. Counselor?
The main difference between a Therapist and a Counselor mainly results from their approach to the field even though they are directly dealing with the same issues. That is, therapists address the underlying reasons behind the mental problems and aim to eliminate these reasons to prevent the continuation of these problems. Counselors also aim to help clients fight against mental troubles, but their primary goals are to help them get rid of the problem or its effects during an attack.
Steps to Become a Therapist
Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
As mentioned previously, the first thing you should do to become a therapist is to start your undergraduate degree as a psychology major or in a relevant field. Here, you will earn your degree by acquiring the main theoretical information on which you will build your occupational expertise. Additionally, your undergraduate work will help you shape your later career with a better insight into counseling. Therefore, you may want to enrich your competence in counseling by enrolling in the classes to take for therapists during your education.
Start a Master’s Program
After you finish your undergraduate program, you must start with a master’s degree in a field related to counseling to advance your training into specifically psychological therapy. Even though you have an undergraduate degree in psychology, you will not be able to apply for licensing until you obtain your Master’s Degree. This phase will enable you to complete the first crucial step to starting your career as a professional therapist.
Complete Clinical Work and Internship
Afterward, you must start clinical training to develop your competence in applying your theoretical background. This step will allow you to harness all your accrued knowledge in a real environment and enable you to develop-improve the skills that are needed to make you a good therapist. Additionally, you will have time to benefit from the more experienced therapists. You can improve your counseling skills with their experience along with your theoretical knowledge and practical experience in the clinical work.
This step will mark the completion of the basic steps to start your counseling career to become a therapist, and after completing all education and training necessities, you can apply for the licensing department in the state you will work and enter the qualification exam. When you pass this test, you will be licensed to work and can practice counseling in that state.
Expand Your Expertise
Even though your education is over and you have become a licensed therapist, the learning does not end as there will remain a sea of knowledge and expertise in the field, waiting for you to discover. You can pursue a doctoral degree to improve your competence in the field or may desire to follow non-mandatory courses to increase your expertise in specific therapy areas.
For instance, you can follow the webinars for therapists to enhance your counseling efficiency through the advice of more experienced therapists. You may also prefer to follow the websites for therapists and listen to the podcasts for therapists to catch up with the latest developments in the field. Or, allocate a significant amount of time to read the best books for therapists to keep your occupational competence growing.
In conclusion, to become a therapist, you should first get detailed knowledge about this job and make a plan to achieve all the necessary steps. You should keep in mind that this will be a long journey, and you need determination and enthusiasm to create a successful therapist career.