It’s a career that appeals to many, training to become a therapist can open up a world of avenues. Not only does becoming a therapist allow you to help others in your daily life, but the earning potential has no limits.
There has been an astronomical number of people who have lost their jobs in the last year and just as many are worried about their current job security. However, as mental health understandably diminishes during the pandemic, therapists are in huge demand and one of the few sectors that have had a positive impact during this last year.
If you are thinking about changing careers, you need to know exactly how to become a therapist. We’ve broken it down for you so you can decide if this path is right for you and so you can get a good look at exactly how you can become a therapist.
You’ll Need A Degree
To become a therapist, you need to have obtained an undergraduate degree. This doesn’t have to be in a relevant field so if you have already completed one in another subject, you can still pursue a career in therapy. However, if you did complete a degree in psychology or a similar area, it can help a lot.
After your undergraduate degree has been completed, you’ll be required to complete a master’s. Unlike the undergraduate degree, the subject area of the master’s really does matter. This will be in psychology or clinical psychology but you can also pursue your master’s in counseling, social sciences or humanities, although you may find it slightly harder to obtain the best internship with these. Learn the differences in a Master’s in Counseling vs Clinical Psychology here.
And that’s the next step, find an internship within a clinic. There is no exact timeframe for how long it will take to complete this but the average is anywhere between 2000-4000 hours. All of these will be supervised by a senior who can guide you and sign you off.
Get Your License
Once an internship is completed satisfactorily, you can apply for your license. This varies between states so check your local guidelines so you know what the expectations are. Some states require you to pass another exam, while others do not. Once you have completed your application process and obtain your license, you are now a fully trained and licensed therapist who can begin practising unsupervised!
Many new therapists start practising in the same clinic they did their internship, providing there is a place for you to do so. This is a great way to build up your client basis, gain more experience and confidence and let someone else deal with all the other parts of the business, such as tax, rent payments and other requirements.
When you feel ready, and if this is something you wish to pursue, you can open your own practice. This can lead to a very healthy income and you will have free reign on how you run your business, providing it follows legal regulations of course.
Since the pandemic having changed the way we run our lives dramatically, many therapists have seen the success of practising online and this could even lead to a permanent change. Great for busy working parents who have commitments at home but still want to pursue a career in therapy.
Can You Become A Therapist Without A Degree?
The short answer is no, you will need a degree to become a therapist. However, there are other paths you can take that don’t require a degree but are very similar roles.
Mental Health Counseling
Mental health counsellors still need to undertake professional training, however, this is considerably shorter and cheaper than the training for becoming a therapist. In fact, you can be practising within a few years.
Just like therapists, mental health counsellors often specialise in certain disorders and can swiftly become experts in their chosen field.
The earning potential of a mental health counsellor isn’t as high as that of a therapist, but it is still a very fair wage.
Depending on who you choose for life coach training, you can be certified within a few days up to a few months. Life coaches like those at Life Complete Coaching are trained to deal with those who have mental health issues, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t valued and important to the public.
Life coaches help people who are struggling with many aspects of their life and guiding them to make the right decisions. This could be anything from relationships, careers to children and homes.
Life coaches help people weigh up the pros and cons and analyse the outcome of decisions so they can succeed in life and be the best they can.
If a career in therapy sounds like the right pathway for you but you still can’t come to a definitive decision, ask someone who is already practising. Most therapists will be happy to answer any questions and pass on what they have learnt over the years.