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How Do I Become a Psychological Therapist?

Emotions and the mind are the focus of a psychological therapist.
A psychological therapist will be trained in administering couples therapy.
Article Details
  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 22 October 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A psychological therapist provides therapy that focuses on the mind and one's emotions. The requirements for becoming a psychological therapist generally will vary based on the jurisdiction in which you want to work. In most cases, however, you will need to commit to earning a master's or doctoral degree to pursue this career. Then, you will likely have to meet licensing requirements in your jurisdiction, which often includes providing proof of a suitable education, passing an examination, and submitting to a background check. Once you have completed this process, you can typically work for an employer as a therapist or start your own practice.

After completing secondary school or earning an equivalent diploma, you can take the first necessary step required to become a psychological therapist. This usually involves earning a bachelor's degree, as such a credential is required as a prerequisite for the advanced type of education you will need to become a psychological therapist. Many individuals who want to pursue this type of career choose psychology or a related undergraduate major, but some master's programs will accept other majors as well.

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The completion of a graduate-level psychology program is often required when you want to become a psychological therapist. You will usually need to earn a master's degree in a field such as mental health counseling or social work, but earning a doctoral degree may translate into more career opportunities. Additionally, if you decide you want to engage in research or teach at a college instead of or in addition to providing therapy, holding a doctoral degree may increase your chances of succeeding in your goal.

Earning a master's degree in psychology will usually require you to commit about two to three years to your studies, while earning a doctoral degree could require three to four additional years. In either case, you will typically take challenging psychology courses that provide the in-depth knowledge you need to succeed in your career goals. You will likely take courses that cover such subjects as theories in psychotherapy, personality, couples therapy, and counseling skills. For a doctoral program, you might take classes that cover leadership in counseling, advanced psychotherapy, and therapy supervision. These programs usually include a dissertation requirement as well.

Once you have finished your graduate-level education, you will typically have to complete a licensing process to become a psychological therapist. For example, you may have to gain experience by working under the supervision of an individual licensed to provide psychotherapy. You may also have to submit proof of your education and experience to a licensing authority, agree to a background check, and pass a standardized examination.

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