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I want to be a therapist when I grow up. How do I become one?

I'm Ms. Hill at the International Community School. My 4th graders have a few questions and I'd like to share your advice with them. Thanks in advance!

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Shamar’s Answer

Go to school and get a degree in a therapy related field. Then, Complete the right training courses for the area of therapy you want to work in. Next, a supervisor will monitor you with patients and tell you things you did well and can improve on. Next, apply for a license to practice therapy on your own!

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Juan’s Answer

I am following my daughter's career since she started college. Initially, She decided to become a doctor and in the middle of this journey she realized that working for social causes was more of her thing. She took a detour and shift to became a Sociologist.

She is now working for AmerCorps and as part of this program she has been involved in multiple social work causes, she is also a CASA volunteer, in both scenarios, she has been learning about social inequality, understanding of the circumstances individuals adopt behaviors those may not be socially accepted, getting exposed to them, listen to from these individuals. Keep in mind, at this stage she can listen and help but she can't guide.

This year She will start a master in Psychologist. Still she will have to finish this program and get more real experience so later she can become a good therapist.

There is no straight answer, of course, you will need to study, read a lot about human behaviors, and little by little discover all these many secrets that are required to become the most prominent therapist. I wish the same for my daughter and I can see she is in the right direction.

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Debbie Yoro’s Answer

I want to be a therapist when I grow up. How do I become one?

Here are some ideas to consider when thinking about or becoming a therapist (in any order):
1. Get therapy for yourself. Find a therapist and have a few sessions to see what it's like and talk about stressors and past events that shaped you.
2. Learn to accept all emotions. Identify your own emotions and get good at talking about your feelings and needs. Encourage those around you to do the same. Validate their emotions without trying to fix them.
3. Get good at present moment awareness and acceptance. Practice mindfulness (there are apps for this) and read books about acceptance and mindfulness (present moment awareness).
4. While you're getting good at acceptance, start practicing self compassion too. Learn a few self compassion practices and try them out. Kristin Neff is a great resource for this. Look her up.
5. Learn ways to regulation emotions. Working through emotions and the emotional energy in the body is so helpful especially during this long term global pandemic where many of us are a bit "prickly" right now. Please teach these skills to others if they are interested.
6. Find ways to enjoy physical movement. Have options for yourself. Personally, I like to bike, kayak, walk/hike, swim and dance. What works for you? Learn how the mind and body are connected. Each affects the other.
7. Ask questions. It takes vulnerability to ask questions but this is part of learning and connecting. Be a vulnerable human and allow awkwardness whenever it shows up. In terms of learning skills, I believe that allowing awkwardness is 100 times better than being confident. Confidence is over rated.
8. Be curious about yourself (including about your thoughts and emotions) and about other people. Practice non-judgement.
9. Have a growth mindset. Doing so will go a long way in doing everything on this list. People with a fixed mindset have a more difficult time in life. Likewise, flexible thinking is way more helpful than ridged thinking.
10. Look into the different paths to becoming a therapist: LPC, MA, LMFT, PsyD, LCSW, etc. This necessary to becoming a therapist. All of the above (1-9) are optional but well worth it and can help you on your way.

Debbie Yoro recommends the following next steps:

Talk to therapists to see what they like or don't like about their role.
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Work with people in a helping role.
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Think about what type of populations you would like to work with.
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Learn about systemic racism.
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Keep learning (this doesn't end)
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