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What degrees do you need to become a therapist?

Asked Smith Island, Maryland

I recently realized that despite my awkwardness and unwillingness to talk to strangers, I somehow clique well with kids and those have been abused. I have thought about having #therapy as a backup plan, but I don't know what #degree/s you have to have. Is it just #psychology ? I do not want to be a psychiatrist, so I wouldn't need anything medical. But as with my previous question, I don't know whether or not this #profession would make me feel safe or not. I feel like the community is kind of bigoted towards the #lgbtqa+ community as well as those who actually have disorders? Is it weird for a therapist to have a therapist or would that just help them relate more to their clients?

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Nancy’s Answer



If there is one thing the world needs, it is more adults that can compassionately relate to neglected, abused, or troubled young people. There are at least four ways to become a psychotherapist or counselor without psychiatry: licensed clinical social worker, licensed professional counselor, licensed marriage and family therapist, and licensed psychologist. The first three require a master’s degree and the latter, a doctoral degree. You can major in anything as an undergraduate, but psychology courses and child development would help make your case for graduate school.

I chose the professional counselor route and worked with troubled youth for 6 years. This profession is more understanding of the range of mental health needs of people in general, to my mind, compared to other careers. There are, unfortunately, some bigots to be found everywhere.

It may be helpful to have therapy yourself as a therapist so that personal issues do not get in the way of the therapeutic process with clients. A therapist must be fairly mentally healthy in order to do no harm to others. She does not have to have reached Maslow’s peak of self-actualization!

There are kids that need you out there! This field is stressful, so you will need skills at self-care to prevent burnout. Best of luck!

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