How to Become a Therapist (A Complete Guide)

How to become a therapist is a very important and occasionally asked question by the students.

Most of the students want to become therapists but they don’t know the ways how to become a therapist.

So this article is a little effort to guide individuals by explaining who is a therapist, what’s required qualification and duties he should perform and steps for how to become a therapist. 

Who is a Therapist? 

People who study a psychology subject to make it a career afterwards, but they don’t know how to become a therapist and they often get confused between terms; Psychologist, Psychiatrist and Therapist.

These terms sometimes get overlap but there are differences in their primary goals. For example

  • Psychologist 

Psychologist is a mental health professional. He gets training in clinical disorders, research, psychological testing and assessment, therapy etc.

He works with psychiatrists and also provides therapy to the patients with psychological disorders.

For example, working with children, psychologists can observe, diagnose and treat any learning difficulty such as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) or Dyslexia etc.

Psychologists and therapists are different in the sense that a psychologist is more highly qualified, trained, professional and follows strict ethical guidelines than a therapist.     

  • Psychiatrist

A Psychiatrist has a MBBS or medical degree and is an authorized doctor.

He has the ability to prescribe or recommend medicines to the psychological patients.

For instance, if a client needs to be recommended anti-anxiety, anti-depression, or any other kinds of medicine, then he is referred to a psychiatrist.

  • Therapist 

A therapist is a licensed psychological health professional.

Therapist is a general term for a person who works with clients to explicate their emotions, reduce stress and to guide them towards a healthy lifestyle.

He basically provides help to the clients who are suffering from psychological illnesses.

He conducts daily or weekly therapy sessions with the clients to help them recover from the current issues.

Therapist deals with clients by using therapies such as the Psychotherapy, Relaxation Therapy, CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Counseling, Family Therapy, Group Therapy, REBT (Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy) and many other psychological therapies.

Types of a Therapist

People who want to get answers of how to become a therapist must know about the types of therapists.

Although therapists deal with a vast variety of individuals, there are specifications to be called a therapist.

Therapist is a restricted term which means that there are some specializations in this field. For example 

  • Psychotherapists
  • Family and Marriage Therapists
  • Child or Developmental Therapists
  • School Therapists
  • Educational Therapists
  • Vocational or Occupational Therapists
  • Behavioral Therapists
  • Recreational Therapists

Qualification of a Therapist

How to become a therapist is a question people usually ask from professionals because they don’t know the requirements to become a therapist.

An individual must have at least a Bachelor’s degree or BS 4 year’s degree in Psychology.

To begin a career as a professional or licensed therapist one must have a Master’s degree in Psychology or have specialization in a field of Psychology and have acquired at least two years of clinical experience.

Getting an MPhil, MS, PhD or Postdoc degree is highly desirable but not necessary to become a therapist.  

Qualities of a Therapist

The answer to this question is how to become a therapist incorporating the qualities a therapist should possess.

Therapists develop skills through their training, experience, clinical practice, courses or education.

An individual who wants to become a good therapist then he/she must possess the following qualities or skills.

  1. Good Listener

A therapist is a good and active listener.

People disclose to him their confidential matters and need recommendation and guidance because people perceive him as a good listener.

This skill or quality is the basic requirement of this profession. Individuals trust and open up to good therapists.

At the point when individuals feel heard and comprehended, their treatment gets started. 

  1. Analytical Thinker

A good therapist is a critical or analytical thinker.

Through analytical thinking, therapists identify what information is missing or is being hidden by the clients.

Therapist combines different pieces of clues about individuals and makes a whole understanding of the problem a person is facing.

And he also figures out what a client is expecting from the therapeutic services. 

  1. Altruistic Attitude

Therapist has an altruistic attitude towards his clients. He enjoys and loves helping others.

Altruism is reciprocal in a way that when a therapist helps people getting better in life in return he also gets refreshed and feels happiness.  

  1. People Person

Therapist is a people person. He feels glad and enjoys spending time with clients, he feels energetic by sharing his feelings and also is keen to know about individuals’ past experiences.

He enjoys hearing peoples’ life experiences, stories etc.

Regardless of whether a client is introverted or shy he gets refreshed by sharing feelings and thoughts. 

  1. Psychologically Healthy

Therapist is psychologically healthy. He struggles with his own conflicts, emotional problems or issues along with providing therapy to his clients.

By dealing with his own issues a therapist becomes empathetic with his clients because he can exactly feel the pain his clients are dealing with. 

  1. Communication Skills

The clear communication or conversation skills are required between therapist and client during the therapeutic services or sessions.

Therapist has an unambiguous verbal and non verbal communication with his client about the therapy process, sessions, type of treatment, time duration etc.

  1. Writing skills

A therapist has good writing or organizing skills. He keeps the record of the client in an organized manner so that there would be no confusion. 

Duties/Responsibilities of a Therapist

Individuals who seek information about how to become a therapist don’t have much knowledge about what therapists really do.

Therapists work in a variety of fields or settings such as public and private hospitals, private clinics, public or private schools, colleges, universities, government organizations, NGOs, mental health institutions, mental asylums, health care centers, outpatient departments, rehabilitation centers, career counseling centers, vocational guidance centers, military hospitals, trauma centers, prisons department etc.

The individuals who want to learn how to become a therapist must know about the duties or responsibilities of a therapist.

The duties or responsibilities of a therapist are mentioned below:

  • To identify and diagnose symptoms of psychological problems or disorders in his clients. The psychological disorders include, Anxiety disorders, Mood disorders, Personality disorders, Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, Eating disorders, Sleep disorders, Developmental disorders and Substance abuse disorders etc.
  • A therapist does not only diagnose clients with psychological disorders but also indicates minor issues or problems in people such as low self confidence or self esteem, negative body image, relationship conflicts, stress, anxiety, depression etc.
  • To plan the treatment process for the clients.
  • To provide therapeutic sessions according to the problem.
  • To conduct group therapy with client’s family members, friends or other related people.
  • To help the client in sharing his inner feelings, thoughts or emotions freely.
  • To explain or clearly communicate the therapy type, treatment plan or process to the client.
  • To have the complete information and history of the client.
  • To track the progress of clients while moving towards the treatment. 
  • To follow the ethical guidelines.
  • To refer clients to other services if they need them. For example a client is referred to a psychiatrist for medications.
  • To provide the client with useful problem solving techniques or strategies which they can use in future.
  • To help clients in becoming fully functioning, developing positive interpersonal relationships and acquiring healthy lifestyles.

Knowing about these duties is very important for an individual who wants to know how to become a therapist. 

Steps for How to Become a Therapist

Now you will learn some useful steps for how to become a therapist. 

  1. Complete Bachelor’s degree in Psychology: Individuals who seek information about how to become a therapist must know that the first step is to complete a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology to practice as a professional therapist.
  2. Get Master’s degree in a Field of Psychology: After getting a Bachelor’s degree it is required to earn a Master’s degree in a specific field of Psychology to get a license. 
  3. Acquire Clinical Experience: An individual is required to have much clinical practice or experience for getting a license. Universities offer students the internship programs after graduation to facilitate students to get clinical exposure in public or private hospitals. 
  4. Pass required Exam to get License/Certificate: To start private practice a therapist is required to get license or certificate from a recognized university or institute. 
  5. Earn Additional Psychological Therapy Certificates: After becoming licensed therapist, he should pursue other specializations in the field of Psychology. 
  6. Stay up to date on Current trends: A therapist must be up to date about current trends or issues related to his field.  

Conclusion

How to become a therapist is the occasionally asked question by the students.

This article has mentioned the necessary steps to how to become a therapist. So an individual must keep in mind the prerequisites for becoming a therapist.

Also a therapist must know that the objective of therapy is not to completely change the individual but to help individuals to recognize their actual selves, develop more positive interpersonal relationships and acquire a healthy lifestyle.  

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

FAQs about How to Become a Therapist 

What is a therapist called?

A therapist is a licensed psychological health professional.

Therapist is a general term for a person who works with clients to explicate their emotions, reduce stress and to guide them towards a healthy lifestyle.

He basically provides help to the clients who are suffering from psychological illnesses.

He conducts daily or weekly therapy sessions with the clients to help them recover from the current issues.

Therapists deal with clients by using therapies such as the Psychotherapy, Relaxation Therapy, CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and many other psychological therapies.

How many years of school do you need to become a therapist?

How to become a therapist is a question people usually ask from professionals because they don’t know the requirements to become a therapist.

A person needs to have at least a bachelor’s degree or BS 4 years of education in Psychology and then have a Master’s degree to practice as a professional therapist.

Master’s degree requires two years of education. And also a person must have at least two years of clinical experience. 

What types of therapists are there?

There are a number of therapists. For example, Psychotherapists, Family and Marriage Therapists, Child or Developmental Therapists, School Therapists, Educational Therapists, Vocational or Occupational Therapists, Behavioral Therapists, Client-Centered Therapists, Gestalt Therapists, Recreational Therapists etc.

Do therapists talk about their clients?

No, therapists follow ethical standards and they are bound to protect the privacy and confidentiality of their clients.

But there are some circumstances in which a therapist has to disclose the privacy of their clients, for example when therapists discuss their client’s issue with their supervisors, other therapists or when they do group therapy. 

References

humanservicesedu.org/counselor-vs-psych-vs-therapist.html#context/api/listings/prefilter

positivepsychology.com/how-to-become-a-therapist/

careersinpsychology.org/12-things-wish-knew-before-became-therapist/

onlinecounselingprograms.com/become-a-counselor/counseling-careers/mental-health-counselor/

study.com/how_to_become_a_therapist.html

psychologytoday.com/us/blog/when-kids-call-the-shots/201709/want-be-therapist-5-signs-you-d-be-great-it

Was this post helpful?