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what are the steps after college to become a therapist?

I want to become a therapist in order to help change people's lives for the better, but I'm not sure where that process begins and what steps to take after.

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Jim’s Answer

Hey Sanna!
Great question. After going to college...it will really depend on your state, as to what's next. Some have certification programs, some have licensure, and some have both...some require a master's degree to get licensed as a therapist. However, before you go and drop a lot of money on a further education look into positions that only require a bachelor's degree (after college)...get hired at an entry-level position, and get a feel for the work that goes on and what is expected. IF you find you love it...welcome aboard! Go after more schooling and get credentialed ...certified and/or licensed. It can be gratifying but it's not for everybody... trust me I have seen all kinds of people that belong in the field...and some who don't. And there are all kinds of branches when it comes to therapy...helping kids, families, addicts, mental health issues, the list is very broad....good luck with your pursuit! Jim

Jim recommends the following next steps:

Google the Health Department for your state and find the "requirements" to be a professional
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Jason’s Answer

I couldn't post the response so my response is here:

my pleasure. And you were specific, I did not read the tags that said psychology so that is my fault.
As you can see with my credentials, I was a therapist and later in life I decided to throw business in there. Counseling/Psychology- the entire industry is HUGE. Do your research now to see what you want to do. Don't be afraid to say you want to make money, don't be afraid to say youre ok with making less money. It is a polarizing field with folks in the trenches doing a lot of work.
Check out your states requirements. If a PhD is not your thing (I thought it was for me and I went differently and have no regrets) check out "professional counseling" programs, and graduate programs in social work that lead to an "LCSW" level license. At the master's level there are levels of licensure for counselors, and social workers. If your end goal is to be doing talk therapy in your own practice you absolutely need a program that is accredited and leads to "independent licensure". Think of it like a nurse practitioner and or Physician assistant to the MD- those professions do a lot of the same work but MUST work under a fully licensed doctor. We are the same, LSW works under an LCSW, LAC works under an LPC.

Do your homework before you start spending money on tuition. Best of luck
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Filoude’s Answer

Hey Sanaa,

Its so exciting that you want to become a therapist! There are many different routes to becoming a therapist. It will require two years of graduate school to become a therapist by majoring in Social Work, Psychology, Marriage and Family Therapy, or Mental Health Counseling. These degrees will require you to complete 2-3 semesters of an internship (most likely unpaid), and once you complete these internships, you will graduate and become a therapist!

Some therapist jobs will require you to be Licensed and that will be another process post-graduate school. You will have to be a Registered intern within your state, complete required hours and supervision hours (ranging between 1,500-3,000) and pass your states exam to be Licensed in Social Work (LCSW), Psychology (LPC), Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), and Mental Health Counseling (LMHC).

Its an extensive but rewarding process. The field of therapy is vast and there are plenty of opportunities for growth within the field. Especially if you become Licensed.

Filoude, MSW, RCSWI

Filoude recommends the following next steps:

Research the degrees mentioned above, and see which ones peek your interest.
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Jason’s Answer

The term therapist is a very vague one but based on your question I am assuming you are talking about doing counseling, talk therapy, or something of that sort. If that is the case:

Following college you will need to attend an accredited graduate school program. This can be for a master's degree that can lead to licensure or a doctoral program to become a licensed psychologist.

Both paths lead to similar outcomes with different amounts of required schooling, as well as a practicum and internships(1000s of supervised hours before you can be an individual therapist for either degree).

You are at the very beginning of this so I would first seek out what it is you specifically want to do for a living, research similar career paths an degrees to ensure you are picking the right one.

Then seek out a few graduate programs and email the faculty asking questions. A good school will respond to these types of emails. Write professionally, concisely, and with purpose. You can view faculty projects on any decent webpage. See if your interests match up. The last thing you want to do is go into a PhD program and you hate research and statistics.

If you have any follow up questions feel free to respond or message.

Jason Rechtman, MA, LPC, NCC, MBA
Thank you comment icon Your advice was so helpful! sanaa
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Theresa’s Answer

Hello there! So happy to hear you want to help others and are considering being a therapist! After you’ve graduated with a bachelors degree typically from a four year undergraduate college program, you can then apply for a graduate program either in counseling or social work. For my undergraduate program, I decided to double major in psychology and family studies because both were related to clinical work. I then attended a two-year graduate program for social work and chose the clinical track over the community organization track. Once I graduated with a masters degree in social work, I received a provisional license and signed up for the masters level exam in my state. I passed the exam and was awarded a masters level social work license. I then had to acquire 3600 hours of professional work (which is a little over two years of full-time work), while being supervised for one hour for every 40 hours of work I did (accumulating 90 supervision hours). I applied for my independent license and took another exam. Now I am independently licensed, which means I am no longer required to have supervision (yet still get it because it’s always good to get supervision), and can see folks with a multitude of health insurance carriers in my state.
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