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Become A Therapist

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Working As A 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

  • $50,470

    Average Salary

What Does A 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 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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Average Length of Employment
Psychotherapist 4.3 years
Therapist 3.0 years
Lead Therapist 2.9 years
Clinical Therapist 2.9 years
Family Therapist 2.8 years
Clinician 2.6 years
Group Therapist 2.4 years
Primary Therapist 2.3 years
Health Therapist 2.3 years
Top Careers Before Therapist
Internship 17.3%
Case Manager 10.6%
Counselor 10.0%
Clinician 4.8%
Volunteer 4.0%
Teacher 3.0%
Supervisor 2.9%
Top Careers After Therapist
Clinician 8.3%
Counselor 8.0%
Internship 5.0%
Supervisor 3.8%
Consultant 2.8%

Do you work as a Therapist?

Therapist Demographics

Gender

Female

74.7%

Male

23.2%

Unknown

2.2%
Ethnicity

White

62.8%

Hispanic or Latino

14.5%

Black or African American

11.6%

Asian

7.3%

Unknown

3.8%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

66.3%

French

6.8%

Swedish

4.7%

German

3.1%

Russian

2.2%

Japanese

2.1%

Portuguese

1.9%

Arabic

1.6%

Chinese

1.5%

Italian

1.4%

Hebrew

1.4%

Hindi

1.2%

Korean

1.1%

Thai

1.1%

Mandarin

0.9%

Armenian

0.6%

Cantonese

0.6%

Polish

0.6%

Vietnamese

0.4%

Gujarati

0.4%
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Therapist Education

Schools

Capella University

10.7%

Walden University

8.3%

University of Phoenix

7.4%

Liberty University

7.4%

Nova Southeastern University

5.5%

Chicago School of Professional Psychology

5.3%

Webster University

4.7%

New York University

4.5%

Fordham University

4.4%

University of Southern California

4.3%

Troy University

4.2%

Wayne State University

4.1%

University of Louisville

4.1%

West Virginia University

4.0%

Temple University

3.7%

University of Maryland - Baltimore

3.6%

Arizona State University

3.5%

Western Michigan University

3.5%

Florida State University

3.5%

University of Pittsburgh -

3.4%
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Majors

Social Work

26.7%

School Counseling

12.0%

Counseling Psychology

11.2%

Mental Health Counseling

10.0%

Psychology

9.9%

Clinical Psychology

6.5%

Family Therapy

5.0%

Education

2.3%

Rehabilitation Science

2.1%

Business

2.0%

Human Services

1.8%

Physical Therapy

1.5%

Nursing

1.5%

Criminal Justice

1.3%

Sociology

1.2%

Occupational Therapy

1.2%

Special Education

1.2%

Human Development

0.9%

Educational Leadership

0.8%

Elementary Education

0.8%
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Degrees

Masters

66.3%

Bachelors

12.1%

Other

9.1%

Doctorate

6.6%

Certificate

2.6%

Associate

2.6%

License

0.4%

Diploma

0.3%
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Real Therapist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Head Performance Therapist Golden State Warriors LLC Oakland, CA Sep 03, 2015 $160,000
Therapist Caron Foundation of Florida, Inc. Boca Raton, FL Dec 09, 2016 $132,318
Therapist Caron of Florida Inc. Boca Raton, FL Dec 09, 2016 $123,165
Therapist Caron Foundation of Florida, Inc. Boca Raton, FL Sep 12, 2013 $115,000
Musculoskeletal Therapist Steven D. Bowditch Flower Mound, TX May 01, 2015 $106,000 -
$150,000
Therapist New York Psychotherapy and Counseling Centers NY Sep 21, 2016 $100,176
Physcial Therapist Restore Professionals, LLC Birmingham, AL Aug 01, 2015 $100,000
Musculoskeletal Therapists Steven Bowditch Flower Mound, TX May 01, 2015 $100,000 -
$150,000
Therapist Brookhaven Medical Centers, Inc. Snyder, TX Mar 01, 2015 $91,828
Physcial Therapist Orthopaedic & Neurological Rehab., Inc. San Francisco, CA Oct 06, 2014 $91,745 -
$93,915
Phyical Therapist Friendship Health & Rehab Center, Inc. Roanoke, VA Jan 09, 2016 $87,654
Physcial Therapist Restore Professionals, LLC Ocala, FL Sep 17, 2015 $87,654
Phyical Therapist Fenster Chiropractic P.C. New York, NY Sep 18, 2013 $64,043
Phyiscal Therapist Grandison Management, Inc. South Windsor, CT Dec 18, 2016 $63,925
Physcial Therapist Management Health Systems, Inc. Fort Pierce, FL Nov 14, 2014 $62,610
Therapist The Arbour Hospital Boston, MA Sep 30, 2014 $62,610
Physcial Therapist Prime Healthcare Services Inc. Middletown, NY Aug 26, 2015 $62,610
Physcial Therapist RN Staff, Inc. Terre Haute, IN Apr 05, 2013 $62,193
Bcba Therapist Central Texas Autism Center, Inc. Austin, TX Sep 11, 2015 $61,859 -
$80,000
Nutritional Therapist Homemade Cooking, Inc. San Francisco, CA Sep 11, 2014 $61,110
Therapist I Firelands Regional Medical Center Fremont, OH Dec 08, 2014 $47,174
Direct Therapist The May Institute, Inc. Randolph, MA Aug 20, 2015 $45,914
Therapist Association To Benefit Children New York, NY Dec 15, 2015 $45,860
Therapist (Social Work) Seneca Family of Agencies Oakland, CA Jan 01, 2013 $45,698 -
$56,300
Therapist La Clinica de Familia, Inc. Las Cruces, NM Aug 07, 2016 $45,000
School Based Therapist Penny Lane Centers CA May 31, 2013 $45,000

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Top Skills for A Therapist

  1. Group Therapy Sessions
  2. Treatment Plans
  3. Family Therapy
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Facilitate group therapy sessions detoxification unit as well as acute psychiatric unit.
  • Developed treatment plans, provided individual and group counseling, and maintained program participant documentation and records.
  • Scheduled and provided direct therapeutic and educational services to clients using individual, group and family therapy.
  • Conducted mental health assessments, developed individual treatment plans and developed supervision plans and safety plans.
  • Facilitated crisis interventions through risk assessment and hospitalization when necessary in cooperation with local psychiatric emergency rooms and inpatient units.

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Top 10 Best States for Therapists

  1. Maine
  2. Wyoming
  3. Alaska
  4. Hawaii
  5. Nevada
  6. Georgia
  7. New Jersey
  8. Pennsylvania
  9. New York
  10. Idaho
  • (314 jobs)
  • (119 jobs)
  • (167 jobs)
  • (113 jobs)
  • (376 jobs)
  • (1,196 jobs)
  • (1,118 jobs)
  • (1,675 jobs)
  • (1,885 jobs)
  • (170 jobs)

Top Therapist Employers

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