Pursuing a career as a therapist can be amazing, especially for those who love to help people while also posing the ability to think analytically. The earning potential can be vast, depending on the specialty you choose, and those who open their own practices can become very successful business owners when done correctly.
Training to become a therapist is something that takes real consideration. Knowing how you can become a therapist is the first step into this new stage of your career. To put it simply, you will need to have undertaken a bachelor’s degree in psychology, followed by a master’s degree. Upon completion of this, you will undertake a clinical internship at a practice. This can vary from a few months to a few years. After this, you can apply for your license and will have completed your training to become a psychotherapist.
If education is something you crave and you can financially support yourself during this training time, you may think that you are ready and set to train to become a therapist. However, there are some other major factors to take into consideration.
Do You Have The Right Skills?
While many of the skills needed to become a therapist can be taught in a classroom setting or learned on the job, some personality traits simply can not be taught.
You will need to be a great listener. While you will offer advice to a client, your main role will be to listen to them and steer their conversation in certain directions to help them gain an understanding of their condition. If you aren’t someone who is naturally a good listener, then becoming a therapist might not be the right choice for you.
Being perceptive is crucial when patients are talking, or even being silent, you need to be able to pick up on mannerisms, body language, facial expressions, and language used. Many patients will take a while to warm up to their therapist and seem ‘closed off’ at first, so being able to interpret what they are saying or thinking is essential.
Emotional resilience is also a must. You will spend your career listening to some troubling and traumatic stories from those who have suffered from abuse, neglect, and other awful events. Being able to not be emotionally impacted by this is crucial, otherwise, you will find that your new career is simply too emotionally draining to handle.
Many therapists opt to have therapy themselves, even if they do not feel the need to, as it sometimes is best to do so to prevent any mental health conditions appearing within yourself.
You may also experience abusive, threatening, and disrespectful clients and you must have the ability to not take this personally. After all, these patients are here because they are suffering from mental health issues.
What Path Should I Take?
Being a therapist is a very broad term nowadays and very few professionals can handle every form of client.
You should decide as soon as possible what avenue you want to take, whether this is working with children, adults, couples, or the elderly. Then you need to have a deep think into what specialty you want to work with.
For example, you may wish to help treat victims of sexual abuse, those suffering from eating disorders, or even those who are terminally ill and are looking for some help to come to terms with their death.
Although not essential, it can always be a help if you have personally experienced similar mental health issues, being able to see things from your clients’ perspective and having true empathy with them can help you understand what they are going through and also help build trust between the two of you.
While you can change your mind throughout your career by undertaking various other courses, it’s good to have a clear view from the start. This can help you look for clinical placements as early as possible to ensure the best experience possible upon graduation.
You Can’t Cure People
It’s incredibly important to remember that therapists don’t cure their patients. Mental health disorders are complex and most people who suffer from them will carry them for life.
Therapists are here to help patients understand their issues and find a way to cope with them daily and learn to live with them, without disrupting their daily lives at an extreme level.
While most therapists go into the profession to help people, you need to keep all this in mind so you don’t feel disheartened when a patient has a relapse, there is no ‘cure’ for mental illnesses.
You Might Not Earn Straightaway
Yes, the earning potential is high within the profession, but that doesn’t mean you will be earning huge sums of money as soon as you get your license.
If you are within private practice, it can take years to build up a client base. The start of your career may be tough but if you excel at what you do, you may find yourself having to turn work away from being overbooked from great referrals.