How Do I Become an Online Therapist?

K. Testa
K. Testa
Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

In order to become an online therapist, you should consider three issues that pertain to your career: requirements, training, and duties. The requirements are the prerequisites needed to enroll in a training program. Potential training opportunities could include both formal degree programs and informal education, rounded out with practical experience, if possible. The specific duties associated with the type of position you want may influence the type of online therapist training that you pursue, and there are usually special considerations for online-only practice. While online therapy usually refers to mental health counseling, the field can also encompass other practices, such as occupational and speech therapy, for instance.

The amount of prior education and experience required in order to take a training program to become an online therapist will vary by location. In the U.S., for example, typically only professionals with specific credentials, earned through formal training, are permitted to call themselves psychologists. The term "therapist" is not always restricted to those who have any specific training, although it depends on what type of therapy you are offering; most respected and successful therapists, no matter their field, do pursue professional training and licensing, however. A typical course of study might include earning an undergraduate degree, followed by completing graduate training and passing a licensing exam.

When training to become an online therapist, you typical options include traditional colleges and universities, as well as those that offer distance learning and online courses. Most professionals recommend undergoing training that includes both formal and informal components, along with some clinical supervision. Formal training refers to degree or certification programs, while occasional conferences and workshops can be considered informal training. An example of clinical work would be an internship taken during the academic year, under the supervision of a licensed therapist.

Online therapist duties typically include performing initial screenings to ascertain clients' needs, and then scheduling appointments to provide them with mental health counseling or general advice. Therapists utilize a variety of treatment methods, depending on the clients, while always maintaining their ethical obligations and professional standards of practice. If you want to become an online therapist, you will probably have to deal with certain aspects of technology that you might not encounter as a face-to-face therapist. It is likely that you will establish your online presence through email, chat, and video conferences, for example. While online privacy is always a significant concern in any profession, you might need to take extra steps as an online therapist to ensure the safety and security of your clients.

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