How to Become A Therapist

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There are many types of therapists, not only psychologists.
There are many types of therapists, not only psychologists. (Image: Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images)

Choosing a career that focuses on helping other people is a noble endeavor. The role of a therapist is one such career path. The title “therapist” is often thought of as a psychologist, counselor or clinical social worker. In reality, there are many different types of therapists in the health care setting: for example, physical, occupational, behavioral and sex therapists. Each type of therapist requires different classes, degrees and certifications.

Determine what type of therapist you would like to become. By determining the capacity in which you want to help people, you will be able to determine the career path right for you. For example, if you prefer to help people recover from illness and injury, you may choose physical or occupational therapy. To help people work through their problems, a psychologist or licensed clinical social worker would be appropriate.

Interview individuals in your chosen field prior to making your final decision. Due to privacy laws and the nature of treatment, you might not be able to observe them in their element. A thorough interview can be helpful to learn more about the profession, the pros and cons of the job, the schedule and the salary.

Locate a college or university that offers the degree program required for the type of therapy you want to perform. You will need a master’s degree at the minimum for most types of therapy. To save money, you can take many of the general education classes at a community college, transferring to a four-year college or university to complete the degree program.

Sit for the state licensing exam following graduation. Licensing exams vary depending on the type of therapy you perform. Passing the exam is a requirement to work as a therapist legally and your employer will require proof of licensure.

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