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Become A Clinical Therapist

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Working As A Clinical Therapist

  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Getting Information
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Mostly Sitting

  • Stressful

  • $52,194

    Average Salary

What Does A Clinical Therapist Do

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists help people manage and overcome mental and emotional disorders and problems with their family and other relationships. They listen to clients and ask questions to help the clients understand their problems and develop strategies to improve their lives.

Duties

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists typically do the following:

  • Diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders, such as anxiety and depression
  • Encourage clients to discuss their emotions and experiences
  • Help clients process their reactions and adjust to difficult changes in their life, such as divorce and layoffs
  • Guide clients through the process of making decisions about their future
  • Help clients develop strategies and skills to change their behavior and to cope with difficult situations
  • Refer clients to other resources or services in the community, such as support groups or inpatient treatment facilities

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists use a variety of techniques and tools to help their clients. Many apply cognitive behavioral therapy, a goal-oriented approach that helps clients understand harmful thoughts, feelings, and beliefs and teaches how to replace them with positive, life-enhancing ones. Furthermore, mental health counselors use cognitive behavioral therapy to teach clients to eliminate unwanted and damaging behaviors and to replace them with more productive ones.

Although some disorders can be overcome, others need to be managed. With the latter, mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists help the client develop strategies and skills to minimize the effects of their disorders or illnesses.

Many mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists work in private practice. They must spend time marketing their practice to prospective clients and working with insurance companies and clients to get payment for their services.

Mental health counselors provide treatment to individuals, families, couples, and groups. Some work with specific populations, such as the elderly, college students, or children. Mental health counselors deal with a variety of issues, including anxiety, depression, grief, low self-esteem, stress, and suicidal impulses. They also help with mental and emotional health issues and relationship problems. 

Marriage and family therapists work with individuals, couples, and families. Unlike other types of mental health professionals, they bring a family-centered perspective to treatment, even when treating individuals. They evaluate family roles and development, to understand how clients’ families affect their mental health. They treat the clients’ relationships, not just the clients themselves. They address issues, such as low self-esteem, stress, addiction, and substance abuse.

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists coordinate patient treatment with other professionals, such as psychiatrists and social workers.

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How To Become A Clinical Therapist

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists are typically required to have a master’s degree and a license to practice.

Education

To become a mental health counselor or a marriage and family therapist, applicants typically need a master’s degree in psychology, clinical mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy, or a related mental health field. A bachelor’s degree in most fields is acceptable to enter a master’s program.

Counseling programs prepare students to recognize symptoms of mental and emotional disorders and to use effective counseling strategies. Marriage and family therapy programs teach students about how marriages, families, and relationships function and how these relationships can affect mental and emotional disorders.

Many employers prefer to hire counselors who have graduated from programs accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs.

Training

Candidates gain hands-on experience through postdegree supervised clinical work, sometimes referred to as an internship or residency. In training, they learn to provide family therapy, group therapy, psychotherapy, and other therapeutic interventions, under the supervision of a licensed counselor.

Licenses

All states require mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists to be licensed in the state in which they practice. Licensure requires a master’s degree and 2,000 to 4,000 hours of postdegree supervised clinical experience, sometimes referred to as an internship or residency. In addition, counselors and therapists must pass a state-recognized exam and complete annual continuing education classes.

Contact information for state boards regulating mental health counselors is available through the National Board for Certified Counselors.

Contact and licensing information for marriage and family therapists is available through the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards.

Important Qualities

Compassion. Counselors and therapists often work with people who are dealing with stressful and difficult situations, so they must be compassionate and empathize with their clients.

Interpersonal skills. Being able to work with different types of people is essential for counselors and therapists. They spend most of their time working directly with clients and other professionals and must be able to encourage good relationships.

Listening skills. Good listening skills are essential for mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists, both of whom need to give their full attention to their clients to understand their problems, values, and goals.

Organizational skills. Good organizational skills are especially important for counselors and therapists in private practice, who must keep track of payments and work with insurance companies.

Speaking skills. Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists need to be able to communicate with clients effectively. They must express ideas and information in a way that clients can understand easily.

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Clinical Therapist Jobs

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Average Length of Employment
Clinical Therapist 3.0 years
Lead Therapist 2.9 years
Family Therapist 2.8 years
Therapist 2.7 years
Clinician 2.6 years
Clinical Counselor 2.6 years
Group Therapist 2.4 years
Primary Therapist 2.3 years
Health Therapist 2.3 years
Top Employers Before
Internship 14.7%
Therapist 10.4%
Counselor 7.1%
Clinician 5.2%
Volunteer 2.5%
Supervisor 2.2%
Top Employers After
Therapist 15.3%
Clinician 7.8%
Counselor 4.9%

Do you work as a Clinical Therapist?

Clinical Therapist Demographics

Gender

Female

75.5%

Male

23.1%

Unknown

1.4%
Ethnicity

White

62.9%

Hispanic or Latino

13.3%

Black or African American

11.9%

Asian

7.9%

Unknown

4.0%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

60.5%

French

9.3%

German

3.9%

Cantonese

3.1%

Arabic

3.1%

Hebrew

2.3%

Russian

2.3%

Italian

2.3%

Romanian

1.6%

Dutch

1.6%

Mandarin

1.6%

Portuguese

1.6%

Chinese

1.6%

Turkish

0.8%

Cherokee

0.8%

Hindi

0.8%

Igbo

0.8%

Vietnamese

0.8%

Urdu

0.8%

Tagalog

0.8%
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Clinical Therapist Education

Schools

Wayne State University

14.6%

Chicago School of Professional Psychology

7.6%

Capella University

7.2%

Walden University

6.4%

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

5.9%

University of Southern California

5.5%

University of Southern Mississippi

5.3%

Barry University

4.9%

Michigan State University

4.4%

University of Utah

4.2%

University of Phoenix

4.0%

Florida State University

3.8%

Oakland University

3.8%

Fordham University

3.6%

Eastern Michigan University

3.4%

Liberty University

3.2%

Western Michigan University

3.2%

Webster University

3.0%

Nova Southeastern University

3.0%

California State University - San Bernardino

3.0%
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Majors

Social Work

32.0%

School Counseling

11.8%

Counseling Psychology

11.6%

Mental Health Counseling

11.1%

Clinical Psychology

8.1%

Psychology

6.6%

Family Therapy

5.7%

Rehabilitation Science

1.8%

Education

1.6%

Criminal Justice

1.3%

Business

1.2%

Physical Therapy

1.2%

Human Services

1.2%

Sociology

1.1%

Educational Leadership

0.9%

Nursing

0.8%

Public Health

0.6%

Theology

0.5%

General Education, Specific Areas

0.5%

Pastoral Counseling And Specialized Ministries

0.5%
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Degrees

Masters

77.8%

Doctorate

8.0%

Other

5.8%

Bachelors

4.8%

Certificate

2.5%

Associate

0.7%

License

0.3%

Diploma

0.2%
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Internship
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Real Clinical Therapist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Clinical Therapist Independence Care System, Inc. New York, NY Sep 15, 2014 $85,000 -
$100,000
Clinical Therapist 1 Loma Linda University Behavioral Medicine Center Redlands, CA Dec 07, 2016 $66,081
Clinical Therapist Psychiatric Specialties, PLLC Saint Joseph, MI Oct 01, 2014 $65,219
Clinical Bilingual Therapist Synergy Family Services, Inc. Hyattsville, MD Dec 01, 2013 $65,000
Clinical Bilingual Therapist Synergy Family Services, Inc. Hyattsville, MD Sep 15, 2013 $65,000
Clinical Therapist Professional Health Network, Inc. Miami, FL Oct 01, 2010 $62,610
Clinical Therapist The Ohio State University Columbus, OH Oct 21, 2016 $56,514
Clinical Therapist Frederick Woolverton. PH.D. New York, NY Oct 01, 2010 $55,911
Clinical Therapist Frederick Woolverton, PH.D. New York, NY Oct 01, 2010 $55,911
Clinical Therapist Blanton-Peale Institute New York, NY Aug 24, 2014 $54,262
Clinical Therapist Blanton-Peale Institute New York, NY Apr 01, 2014 $54,262
Clinical Therapist The Ohio State University Columbus, OH Aug 22, 2015 $53,000
Clinical Therapist Hope Community Resources, Inc. Anchorage, AK Sep 18, 2014 $50,171
Clinical Therapist ATHI P Venkatesh Md Pa TX Mar 15, 2013 $50,000
Clinical Therapist SHC-KHP, LP TX Oct 02, 2012 $49,900
Clinical Therapist The Treatment Center of The Palm Beaches, LLC Lake Worth, FL Oct 01, 2015 $45,000
Clinical Therapist Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services Lancaster, CA Oct 01, 2012 $45,000
Clinical Therapist New Mexico Highlands University Albuquerque, NM Mar 09, 2014 $43,000
Clinical Therapist New Mexico Highlands University Albuquerque, NM Sep 03, 2014 $43,000
Clinical Therapist MGC Health, Inc. Augusta, GA Jul 31, 2013 $42,827
Clinical Therapist MGC Health, Inc. NC Jul 31, 2013 $42,827
Medication Clinic Crisis Therapist-Mental Health Family & Children's Services, Inc. Tulsa, OK Jul 07, 2014 $42,207
Bilingual Clinical Therapist Nogales Psychological Counseling, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Nov 15, 2013 $40,019
Bilingual Clinical Therapist Nogales Psychological Counseling, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Nov 05, 2010 $37,482
Clinical Therapist Asian Pacific Psychological Services Richmond, CA Jan 26, 2010 $36,209
Clinical Therapist I Providence Healthcare Network Waco, TX Sep 07, 2010 $36,001

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Top Skills for A Clinical Therapist

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  1. Treatment Plans
  2. Family Therapy
  3. Mental Health
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Participate in the development and implementation of treatment plans under the supervision of the licensed clinical supervisor.
  • Interpreted therapeutic sessions in order to transcribe individual and family therapy notes as well as necessary court-ordered documents.
  • Provided intensive outpatient therapy sessions in a mental health clinical setting.
  • Complete intake assessments, provide diagnosis and develop treatment plans surrounding information gathered by using a client-centered approach.
  • Provided individual and family psychotherapy using cognitive-behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and crisis intervention skills.

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Top Clinical Therapist Employers

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