Do you have a passion for psychology? Are you interested in knowing the challenges of people and how to help them? If affirmative, you are empathetic. Empathy is a virtue; you should consider taking up therapy as a career if you always feel like to carry other people’s burdens.
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Therapists are specialists in mental health and other psychological issues. They treat patients with cerebral anomalies and apply various measures to help them recover and regain psychological stability.
Professional therapists are licensed, and some of them are medical professionals. Examples of medically trained therapists are psychiatrists. They can diagnose health issues and prescribe drugs, as well.
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However, there are non-medical therapists; for example, psychologists, counsellors, etc. They carry out their tasks by offering advice to the patients. They use practical experiences to influence and remould their mindsets, thoughts, and beliefs in things related to their area of challenge.
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As a Therapist, Your Work Will Involve:
- Psychological evaluation of the patient and administration of a therapy to solve their problems.
- It is assisting the client in the development of skills that will quicken their recovery.
- Regular conversation with close friends and relatives of the patient.
- Dispensing of rehabilitation therapy to close relatives, loved ones, and friends of the patient.
- Administering therapeutic consultations during which the therapist will take notes and record important information about the client
- General advice and counselling.
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As a therapist, you will most likely be offered employment in a healthcare organization, hospital, and other therapeutic consultations.
However, some therapists can operate privately if they are licensed.
Things you must do to become a therapist.
While nurturing the dreams of becoming a therapist, you must do the following:
- Decide the area of therapy to focus on
- Get a degree in a therapy field.
- Further your education and get a postgraduate degree
- Gain vast experience
- Work on your empathetic skills
- Attain the requirements for licensing
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Decide the Area of Therapy to Focus On
As a therapist, you will be spoilt for choices as there are various career paths to follow. You can specialize in family therapy, behavioural therapy, cognitive therapy, or rehabilitation therapy.
The training for the multiple branches of treatment is virtually the same, but you have to make some critical choices during your career. While doing your undergraduate or graduate program, you will take course works based on your chosen area.
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More so, seminars, certifications, and professional organizations are tailored to meet the requirements for each area of specialization.
Get a Degree in the Therapy Field
You must get a degree in a relevant therapy field. This is simply the most critical step to take. To become a therapist, you must be a major in psychiatry, guidance/counselling, psychology, or sociology.
A degree in one of these courses will give you an excellent foundation to explore the various opportunities in the career. You should take your elective courses after deciding on the therapy area to specialize in. With this, you will be able to develop your strategies and ethics towards having a successful career in therapy.
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Further Your Education and Get a Postgraduate Degree
Some states may require a master’s degree or PhD before you are allowed to practice therapy. Go ahead and check the licensing and experience requirements for becoming a therapist in your area.
The minimum academic qualification may vary, though most of the states require a master’s degree. More so, some specific topics or areas are essential, and you must offer them during your master’s degree program. Get to know about the required options.
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However, some of the options to consider when taking a master’s degree are social work, rehabilitation therapy, family therapy, or psychology.
Gain Vast Experience
Just like several other fields, therapy requires experience. You need to work under a professional therapist for some years before you can qualify for licensure.
You will only become a licensed therapist when you have worked for the specified number of hours in the clinic. You will learn how the theoretical concepts learned during your coursework can be applied in real-life practical scenarios.
Some of your undergraduate and graduate courses will be based on practical. You will acquire some clinic hours, as you will be allowed to work with patients. A professional therapist will supervise you.
You can gain more hours in the clinic by applying for internship opportunities. It would be best if you started acquiring clinical experiences during your undergraduate days. By so doing, you will begin to earn the required clinical hours.
Work on Your Empathetic Skills
A therapist should be soft and kindhearted. Carry out a careful analysis of yourself and know whether you are empathetic enough for the career. Sure, you can learn to be mild in case you are not.
You can acquire some empathetic skills during your school days while understudying a professional therapist. Take practical clinical experiences seriously because the more you work with patients, the softer you will become.
Get closer to your professors and other senior colleague and mentors.
Below are some of the soft skills that you should teach in you:
Empathy: As a therapist, your daily goal is to find out how your patients are feeling. Try to feel the same way as your clients. Put yourself in their position, and you will quickly know the pains they are going through.
This is a critical trait, as you can only understand them better by experiencing what they experience. With empathy, you will be patient and know why they act the way they do. More so, you will be able to reconfigure their emotional intelligence, making them think more objectively.
Listening actively: Therapists are great listeners, so if you plan to become a therapist, you should start learning active listening. As a therapist, you will listen to your patients actively to proffer the necessary solutions.
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When you listen to them, you will be able to feel their pains and perceptions. You should be able to coin relevant questions that will guide clients. Once in a while, you will have to repeat to the clients what they have said.
This will show that you were listening to them. More so, you can confirm whether they understand you. When you practice active listening, you will be cordial with them, and you will remember important information that can quicken the recovery of the clients.
Excellent communication: Communication is the key to treating mental illness. In therapy, it is common to come across clients who do not wish to talk about certain things or topics. Imagine trying to diagnose a client who refuses to speak to you. What will you do? Abandon him or her?
As a therapist, you must be able to use advanced communication skills to sieve useful information from your patients. As a professional therapist, you must be able to decipher when a client is ready to talk or not. In the same vein, some clients may communicate incoherently.
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In this case, you can only have a comfortable and successful session by forging an understanding with him. You should be able to explain complex concepts and blend your communication styles.
Meet the Minimum Requirements for Licensure
To become a professional therapist, you must complete an advanced degree in a relevant course, and you must complete about 2500 hours of clinical experience. You can then apply to write an exam for your operational license. This exam is legal and covers the various theories and laws in psychology.
Every state has statutory regulations and rules as per the treatment of mental health illnesses. This exam will test your understanding of these laws. You must continue your education; your license can be revoked if you fail to achieve 40 hours of studies every two years.