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How Do I Become a Depression Therapist?

By Jodee Redmond
Updated May 17, 2024
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If your goal is to become a depression therapist, there is more than one approach you can take to qualify for this type of work. Psychiatrists, psychologists and psychotherapists may all work with depressed patients. These types of jobs require completing specialized post-secondary degrees and getting a license. Once the licensing process has been completed, practitioners are required to take continuing education courses to ensure that their qualifications are kept up to date.

Depression is characterized by periods of feeling down or "blue" which last for two weeks or more. During a depressive episode, the person may experience difficulty concentrating and a lack of energy. Some people with depression complain of aches and pains as part of this disorder, which contributes to their overall sense that everything is a struggle during these times.

One way to become a depression therapist is to become a psychiatrist. People working in this field are medical doctors and can prescribe medications to their patients. The first step to becoming a psychiatrist is to complete an undergraduate degree and then four years of medical school. After graduating from medical school, a future psychiatrist must complete a psychiatry residency program before being considered fully trained. The entire process may take 12 years or more of education after finishing high school.

Psychologists also treat patients with depression, but their approach doesn't include prescribing medications. This approach for someone who wants to become a depression therapist also involves a lengthy process. A fully-trained psychologist has completed a bachelor's and master's degree in psychology, and has also obtained his or her doctorate in that subject. An internship will likely be required as part of the process to obtain a doctoral degree.

A third approach for someone who wants to become a depression therapist is get the training required to become a psychotherapist. A therapist holds a master's degree and has taken a number of courses in counseling. A clinical component to the program allows future psychotherapists to practice what they have learned with patients to treat depression and other mental health concerns.

In the United Kingdom, a psychotherapist must complete a specialized program of study. A number of psychotherapy students start their training after becoming a psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker or a nurse. The training is conducted over four years and students take courses part-time.

The process for becoming a psychotherapist is a little different in the US. Each state determines licensing requirements for psychotherapists independently. A person who wants to become a depression therapist in this capacity would likely need to complete a master's degree in social work or psychology before taking special courses leading to a license for a particular state.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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