When looking for a career it is important to consider many factors. You'll want to think about how much schooling is involved and how long it will take you to enter that career. But you'll also want to consider the salary potential, the job outlook, and the workplace environment you can expect to have in this field. We'll go over all these questions below.
But along with all the job outlook and logistics of therapy work, you might also be wondering what therapists do, what their job is like, and what it takes to become one.
Most therapists are psychologists that went into therapy. Other psychologists might go into research and studies to further the science of psychology rather than becoming practicing therapists. You can also become a therapist without becoming a psychologist but your earning potential will be lower since you aren't a doctor in psychology.
Basically, therapists help people in all facets of life. Therapists are licensed mental health professionals.
They help their clients lead better lives, improve their mental, emotional, or even physical wellbeing. They can help their clients learn behavioral, emotional, and social skills so they can learn to better cope with themselves and their surroundings.
They usually schedule an hour session with their clients. Some people will see their therapist twice a week, once a week, or once a month, depending on their needs. So a therapists day will consist of sessions with clients, evaluating the needs and treatments of their clients, and staying up to date on current practices and information.
The work of a therapist is very vast and complex. There are different kinds of therapists and there are many different fields and specializations.
Ultimately, there are therapists, psychologists, and counselors. The main difference between these 3 types of therapists are in education and credentials.
Psychologists have the most education, receive the highest salaries, and are held to the highest standards. They can also be referred to as therapists, but they are technically Doctors of Psychology. Psychologists have a Doctor of Philosophy Degree (PhD) in psychology or a Doctor of Psychology Degree (PsyD).
Therapists without a doctorate in psychology have a moderate amount of education and earning potential. They also go through the process of becoming licensed practitioners but they do not go through the same courses of education as a Doctor in Psychology does.
Likewise, counselors have the least amount of education and expertise, but can still become great assets in their field through lots of real-world experience.
The field of psychology comes with very specific requirements and skills. As a therapist, you deal with some of the most intimate parts of people's lives. Because of this, a good therapist needs a special set of skills and abilities.
As a therapist, you'll need to be able to analyze data and draw conclusions from it, in order to successfully treat your patients. You need keen observational skills to see details patients otherwise miss within themselves. You'll have to use your knowledge, observations, and gathered data to create an individualized treatment plan for each client.
You might also need to learn how to accurately read body language and facial expressions. Learning how to read people without making incorrect assumptions will be paramount to succeeding as a therapist and having productive sessions with each client.
It almost goes without saying but therapists don't just listen. They need communication skills as well. One of the primary aspects of therapy and counseling work is to effectively communicate with your clients. You'll need to learn how to talk tactfully and sensitively about difficult subjects, while still getting your point across successfully.
Therapists deal with a wide range of personal, private matters. Therapists need to be discreet and keep things in confidence to gain the full trust of their patients.
Having a full understanding of ethics is also important in knowing how to tackle a variety of new and surprising scenarios. You will need a strong background in ethics studies in order to make hard decisions every day.
The help you give as a therapist is rewarding, but it can often take a lot of time to get the results you and your clients desire. Months and sometimes years can go by before either of you see any results or improvements.
Other jobs might have deadlines for projects but therapy doesn't work that way. Therapy is a continual effort and some clients will need your services their entire lives. For this reason, a good therapist needs to have an incredible amount of patience.
The first thing you'll do on your journey toward becoming a therapist is getting a bachelor's degree. This is the standard 4-year degree that many people day receives in college. Ideally, you'll want to major and minor in psychology and other related fields. A related field might involve a bachelor's degree in social work or human services.
Now that you've graduated from college it's time to seek out an even higher form of learning. Many therapists choose to pursue a master's degree in psychotherapy rather than a doctorate degree because it involves less time and is less intense.
While you are going through your master's program, you can start getting clinical hours, which you will need to get licensed in the end. In the US you need 1,000 to 1,500 hours of clinical service during your schooling.
A PhD is what most therapists decide to get as it is more useful than a master's degree. A doctoral degree is a research degree that will include doing your own research, writing a dissertation about that research, and passing a comprehensive exam.
You can also get a PsyD where you don't have to do as much research. This degree involves more practical work and examinations rather than a dissertation and your own research. Students who pursue a PsyD will often complete a 1-year internship during this time as well to gain real-life experience.
If you want to specialize as a school psychologist or counselor then you might get an Education Specialist Degree (EdS). This will give you knowledge specific to education since you will primarily deal with students in school.
Many schools require therapists to complete clinical hours both during and after their education. So once your schooling is over, you can expect to go through around 1,500 more hours of supervised clinical service before you can become officially certified.
Even while you're waiting for a license you can still practice as an associate or intern before you become officially certified.
Now that you have all of your education completed, and all the clinical hours required, you can take the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology. For more information about this exam visit this website.
In order to be called a psychologist and keep that title, you have to maintain your license. The laws and requirements for a psychologist's license vary depending on your state. Most licenses require a doctorate in psychology, an internship, and 1 or 2 years of supervised clinical hours for professional experience.
It might be lucrative and fulfilling to become specialized in a specific area. With the American Board of Professional Psychology, you can get certified in 15 specialized areas of psychology.
These areas include the following branches of therapy:
Therapy is always changing and updating. Science and our understanding of the mind and body is always getting better, so it's a requirement for psychotherapists to keep their knowledge up to date in order to provide good help and keep their licensing.
This website also offers a lot of help and resources into what is involved in becoming different kinds of therapists and what to expect. They go over how to become a behavioral therapist, a cognitive-behavioral therapist (CBT), a recreational therapist, a child therapist, a family therapist, and an occupational therapist.
It can take the average person anywhere from 8 to 13 years to complete their education and internships required to become a therapist.
The difference in years mostly depends on how high you want to go with your education. By doing the minimum bachelors and doctorate degrees you can start practicing in as little as 8 years.
But you can gain more expertise, experience, knowledge, and earn higher salaries by going to school for longer and specializing in a specific form of counseling.
Much of what determines whether education is a worthwhile investment is how much you can expect to make each year in the end. This will determine the kind of life a psychology education can provide for you and it will determine how long you will need to pay off any student loans.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics psychologists can expect to make a median annual salary of $79,010 a year. The lower 10% of this same demographic can make around $43,800 a year, and the highest 10% can make as much as $129,250 a year.
But different fields of psychology also have different earning potentials. For instance, a general psychologist makes around $100,770 a year, and industrial-organizational psychologist makes around $97,260 a year, and a clinical, counseling, or school psychologist makes around $76,990 a year.
For comparison, PayScale has relatively similar data about how much psychologists make a year. Through their surveys they were able to find that the lower 10% make about $49,000 a year, the average psychologist makes around $76,659 a year, and the higher 10% make about $113,000 a year.
According to the most recent census numbers provided by BLS, therapists can make an average of $6,584 a month. At most they might make $10,770 a month. At the very least they'll make $3,650 if they are just starting out or prefer not to pursue a doctorate degree.
By surveying actual psychologists PayScale was able to figure out that the average psychologist makes about $48.85 an hour on average. The lower 10% of therapists make about $15.44 an hour and the higher 10% make about $147.40 an hour.
This data means that the average psychologist makes about, $1,954 a week if they work a regular 40 hour week. At most, they can make $5,896 a week by working 40 hours at the highest average pay. At the very least they'll earn $617 a week.
A therapist's pay can also depend on the type of place they work in. For example, therapists working in government jobs make around $96,410 a year. Therapists in hospitals make around $86,530 a year. Therapists who work with ambulatory healthcare services make around $79,180 a year. And therapists and counselors at elementary and secondary schools tend to make around $75,890 a year.
The state you live and work in can also have an impact on your earning potential. Here are the top 5 best-paying states in the United States and the average therapist salary in each one: California-based therapists make an average of $114,860 a year, Maryland makes $112,330, Kansas makes $102,910, Washington makes $102,760, and New York makes $99,640.
How long you have been working as a therapist will also weigh in on how much you get paid each year. This is a good thing because it means this field values your experience level and reward you the longer you remain in this line of work.
For example, a psychologist who has less than 1 year of experience makes an average of $62,032 a year, 1 to 4 years of experiences make $70,110 a year, 5 to 9 years' experience makes $80,707 a year, 10 to 19 years' experience makes $87,559 a year, and 20 plus years of experience can make around $89,708 a year.
Therapy can be a life-saving resource for you or your loved ones. Therapy can help individuals, couples, family members, friends, and even coworkers learn how to interact with each other in better, healthier ways.
Finding a therapist near you is also an easy process to go through. All you need to do is go to PsychologyToday.com and search for therapist in your area!
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