The qualifications for a career in therapy vary depending on the type of work you are looking to do, but a masters degree is typically the minimum requirement. The first step in becoming a therapist is often earning a bachelors degree in psychology. Degrees in sociology, education, and health sciences are also good starting points for acceptance into a related therapist graduate program. The graduate degree program best for your career will ultimately depend on what type of therapist you'd like to become. A Ph.D. or Psy.D. in psychology will open up the widest range of career options, but also takes about eight years or so to complete. In some states, a masters in psychology will qualify you to become a licensed psychologist. If you want to work with children, adults, families, or couples, a masters degree in counseling can lead to a career as a professional counselor. Social workers should look into earning a masters degree in social work. If you're already a practicing nurse, a masters in advanced psychiatric nursing may be the optimal path for you to follow. After finishing your degree, you will need to pass a licensing exam for the state where you will be practicing.
Therapists need to possess a genuine compassion and empathy for their clients. As a therapist, it will be important for you to be a good listener, patient, and able to work with a wide variety of people. You should also have excellent communication skills and a mind for innovative problem-solving. You should be able to express ideas and information to your clients in a way that they will easily be able to comprehend. Finally, therapists need to display a high level of confidentiality and integrity in order to instill trust and confidence in their clients.
Most state qualifications require a specified number of hours of supervised experience or internship to be completed before sitting for the therapist licensing exam. Degree programs often offer placement programs for graduates to earn the hours they will need for licensure.
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