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How Do I Become a Gay Therapist?

Article Details
  • Written By: Kesha Ward
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 16 August 2018
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In order to become a gay therapist, you will have to obtain a master's degree and become licensed in therapy. In most cases, a graduate degree in social work or psychology with a clinical component will be needed; if you are enrolled full-time, a master's degree will typically take two years to complete. Along with the coursework required to obtain the degree, you will also usually have to complete an internship in order to graduate and sit for the licensing examination. The internship should include working with the gay and lesbian population to gain experience and the skills necessary to tackle the social issues that your future clients may face.

After completing your graduate degree and intern hours, you will likely need to obtain a license from the jurisdiction where you would like to work as a therapist. The licensing process will require you to pass an exam, go through an extensive background check, and be fingerprinted. Having client contact hours as well as documented supervised hours may also be required for licensing.

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It is recommended that you take the necessary licensing examinations to become a gay therapist while you are still in school or shortly after so the information is fresh in your mind. The majority of the focus of the exam will be on the knowledge you gained from book study and class lecture rather than clinical experience. There are exam preparation courses that can help you practice and create a strategy for studying. If you fail the exam, you may be able to retest after several months.

If working exclusively with the gay population is your goal, you will have to do research to find agencies and programs that work with this population. Once you are licensed to become a gay therapist, you will also have the option of working as a private therapist and have the ability seek out clients on your own. Having your own practice may be challenging, but can allow you to create your own schedule and build your client base at your own pace.

The key to having a successful practice is being actively involved in the gay and lesbian community. While you are on your path to become a gay therapist, you should consider joining the gay and lesbian chamber of commerce or other similar organizations in your area. You do not have to be homosexual to become a gay therapist, but you should have knowledge and sensitivity for the issues that are commonly experienced by the gay population.

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