How Do I Become a Therapist?

“How do I become a therapist?” is a question you may be asking yourself if you are interested in working in a career where you will be helping people make changes in their lives. Therapist is a general term which can be used to describe several jobs which involve listening and providing assistance to clients.

The type of post-secondary degree you should be considering if your goal is to be a therapist will depend on the age and type of clients you want to work with. Some job titles which fall under this category include:

• Clinical psychologist
• Licensed Family Therapist
• Licensed Social Worker
• Substance Abuse Counselor

Clinical Psychologist

Clinical psychologists usually hold a Ph.D, although some states allow Master’s degree holders work in this capacity. You can choose to study psychology as an undergraduate, but students who hold a Bachelor’s degree in sociology, social work, education or anthropology can be accepted into a graduate program.

In total, you can expect to spend approximately 8-12 years pursuing the post-secondary education required to be a clinical psychologist. Once the requirements for the doctorate have been completed, you would need to complete an internship for a year or two before you would be eligible to write a licensing exam.

Licensed Family Therapist

The minimum level of education required to become a licensed family therapist is a Master’s degree. A number of universities offer graduate degrees in counseling, with concentrations in the following areas:

• Career
• College Student
• Gerontological
• Marriage, Family and Child
• Rehabilitation
• School

To obtain a license, you will be required to complete a two-year internship before writing an exam. During this time, your work will be supervised by a licensed counselor.

Licensed Social Worker

Licensed social workers hold either a Master’s or Doctoral degree. After graduating from a Master’s program, you will need to complete a certain number of hours of clinical experience. Each state sets its own licensing requirements, and you may need to work for two or three years before being eligible to write the licensing exam.

Substance Abuse Counselor

In some states, you can qualify to be a substance abuse counselor if you complete a certification program while other parts of the country you will need to obtain a degree before you can work in this field. In states where substance abuse counselors are required to be licensed, you will need to complete a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree program in Substance Abuse Counseling. Graduates from the degree program will be required to complete a certain number of hours of practical experience in an addiction counseling setting to become qualified to work with clients independently.

There are a number of options available if you are interested in working with people who need help and support to deal with something in their lives. The answer to the question, “How do I become a therapist?” depends on what type of therapist you want to become and whether you are interested in working with couples, families, students or children.

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