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How long do you need to attend college to be a counselor/therapist?

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So Maria you think you might like to become a therapist? Therapists may be referred to as mental health counselors or mental health therapists. These types of therapists help people understand and cope with mental and emotional afflictions. They may work with individuals or groups who suffer from stress, addiction, depression, anxiety disorders, or other conditions.

Before entering a master's degree program, all individuals must earn a bachelor's degree. Undergraduates interested in counseling can major in a related field, such as psychology, social work or education as these majors may better qualify individuals for master's programs. Students may choose to study a different field, but they need to supplement their required courses with courses in psychology. Introduction to psychology, psychology of personality, adolescent psychology and abnormal psychology may prove to be particularly useful in preparing students for graduate school.

Aspiring therapists have several master's degree options. They each have differences in curriculum and lead to different professional titles. Master's degree programs in social work tend to take a systems approach, looking at the various social structures affecting mental health. Typical coursework topics include social justice, human behavior in the social environment, data analysis and clinical practice techniques. Graduates can become Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW). Master's degree programs focused on counseling or marriage and family therapy are often more person-centered, teaching students how to treat individual patients, family members and couples. Depending on the program focus, graduates may be prepared to earn one or more of the following titles: Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT). Coursework for counseling as well as marriage and family therapy programs may include human growth and development, family theories, statistics, evaluation of practice and counseling theories. All programs integrate fieldwork experience into the curriculum. Fieldwork may be conducted alongside coursework, or it may be done as a full-time, year-long commitment after a year of coursework. The experience is supervised by a licensed therapist and prepares students for working as provisionally licensed therapists.

A full license is not available immediately upon graduation from a therapy program as graduates must first complete approximately two years of supervised clinical experience. Some states require therapists doing supervised clinical work to have a provisional license. State requirements vary, but most applicants need to be graduates of an approved program with adequate fieldwork experience and have a contract agreement to practice therapy under the supervision of a qualified therapist. Provisional licenses may have a time limit, after which therapists must apply for full licensure.

Work experience training may require 1,500-4,000 hours, depending on the specific profession and state licensing requirements. An approved therapist must directly supervise a certain percentage of those hours. Reports on the specific activities and the progress of the provisionally licensed therapist may also be required. Therapists-in-training should check state licensing requirements to make sure that their work experiences are structured correctly. Failure to complete certain tasks or documentation could result in a delay in earning licensure.

Most states require licensure candidates to pass an appropriate examination before earning licensure. Some states oversee their own exam, while others accept scores from the Association of Social Work Boards Clinical Examination, the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination or the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards exam.

To use titles such as Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Clinical Social Worker, professionals must hold a current state license. States usually require applicants to have completed an approved education program and clinical work experience and to have passed an approved licensure examination. An increasing number of counselors work in private or group practices as self-employed practitioners. This is due in part to legislation that permits individual counselors to collect payment from insurance groups, as well as increasing respect for counselors as skilled mental health professionals.

Licensed therapists work in a variety of settings and with many different populations. Therapists may work with families, couples, groups, or individuals. These professionals may work in private practice, at a health clinic, in a school, or at an in-patient mental health facility.

Hope this was Helpful Maria

Thank You Dexter for your continued support. Life is an echo. What we send out comes back. What we sow, we reap. What we give, we get. What you see in others, exists in you. John Frick

This was very helpful, thank you very much!! maria L.

Your welcome Maria, it was my Pleasure. Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value. John Frick

Thank You Nicolette. Alone, we can do so little; together we can do so much. John Frick

Great job in answering this. Very thorough. Jennifer Hasbrook

Thank You Jennifer. None of us is as smart as all of us. John Frick

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