Raffinée Wilson, M.S., LPC
While working in an outpatient and inpatient facility each day consisted of running 2-4 groups and 2-4 individual sessions per day. We wrote treatment plans, discussed client goals, created safety plans, coordinated with outpatient providers, conducted family sessions, and other necessary paperwork. The outpatient facility required writing monthly, and sometimes weekly, reports of the client's progress due to forensic or Child Protective Services engagement. Each facility has different requirements yet there typically is quite a bit of paperwork involved.
First, you could go to medical school (typically four years), then do a residency in psychiatry,(typically four years), even training beyond that in fellowship (typically 2 years) to care for children (child fellowship) or elderly (geriatric fellowship). Along the way, you can ask for extra training in doing therapy as well as current medical standards for care. For instances, you can ask/demand in a training program to be trained in Family therapy, in dialectical behavior therapy (excellent and being adapted for many problems with abused individuals, those with anxiety, those with depression), in group therapy. The world is your oyster. Don't be shy to ask about therapies that come to your attention; there are so many out there. But the relationship is also very important. We have known for years that therapy works; only recently have we learned how therapy can actually change the genes, therefore being transmitted into the next generation of children. That truly is exciting. There is something both humbling and honorable about being a small helpful cog when a person is having problems. In my practice, I often celebrated improvement or remission by calling for applause from my staff when they "graduated". It is however a heavy burden and there are times, even with much experience, when your worry for some patients goes home with you despite your best efforts to leave it at work. It becomes very important for this reason to have a support network.
Second, you can finish college and go into a PhD program to become a psychologist. Their internship/training period is one year after they have done their dissertation. They do therapies as noted above, but cannot prescribe medication (only MDs like a psychiatrist or family doctor can prescribe medication).
Third, you can finish college and get Master's level training to become a social work therapist.
Fourth, you can complete nursing training (RN) and do extra training to become a nurse practitioner (RNP, in psychiatry further specified as CRNP). Most do medication management, but you could do therapy if negotiated with your collaborating physician.
Jane recommends the following next steps: