Therapist schooling requirements

How to Become a Therapist

The word “therapist” is a broad term that can encompass many mental health professionals. Counselors, social workers, marriage and family therapists, and psychologists are all considered therapists.

Depending on the individual, the geographic area in which they practice and their respective state licensure or regulatory practices, many mental health professionals use the term “therapist” to speak broadly about themselves. Regardless of what term is used, providing mental health services to clients is a meaningful way to offer help and support to others at the individual and community levels.

While the term “therapist” is often used as a general term to encompass the mental health field as a whole, “it is important to note that there are very real and significant differences between and among the mental health professions,” said Kristi B. Cannon, PhD, LPC, NCC, director of counseling programs, assessment and evaluation at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU).

These differences include:

  • The client population being served
  • The types of intervention being offered
  • The depth of the issue being addressed

While the term “therapist” can be used across professions, state licensure boards restrict the use of particular terms such as “licensed professional counselor” or “licensed psychologist” to “those who have received specific educational, exam and practice requirements for licensure in that area,” Cannon said.

And, because educational training, ethical guidelines and licensure are critical to each of these fields, “it is important for potential clients to understand that the term ‘therapist’ is not regulated,” Cannon said. Therefore, the term “therapist” can be used by anyone across the profession.

What’s the Difference Between a Therapist and a Counselor?

These terms are often used interchangeably. “Both a therapist and a counselor engage in a helping relationship,” said Metoka L. Welch, PhD, LCMHC (NC), director of counseling programs for the learning environment at SNHU. The difference between the two lies within the goal of the professional.

A therapist “provides mental health therapy to clients,” Cannon said, while a counselor is a specific type of mental health professional whose offerings “align with a wellness model of healing” and who “believes in the empowerment of clients to accomplish their goals in mental health, career and education.” According to Cannon, there are many different counselor roles to consider.

Just like with the term “therapist,” there can be distinct educational, training and licensure requirements for each of these professions.

The type of professional counselor most often associated with “therapist” is a clinical mental health counselor. This person “is someone who provides direct client counseling in a private practice, hospital or community-based setting,” Cannon said.

Learn more about how to become a mental health counselor.  

What Does it Take to Become a Therapist?

The first step toward becoming a therapist is to decide which type of therapy you wish to provide.

These are some common pairings of interests and career pathways, according to Welch:

  • Counseling or individual therapy is suitable for people who want to work with clients one-on-one
  • Clinical mental health counseling can be good for people who want a broad scope of knowledge to help people with a variety of mental health needs
  • Marriage and family therapy might be a good fit if you know you want to provide services to couples and families in a group setting
  • Social work is a good fit if you are interested in connecting people to resources

After you determine which area of counseling you would like to pursue, go to your state’s licensing board website to determine what educational credentials you need. “Then, look into programs that offer the qualifying curriculum,” said Welch.

What Degree Do You Need to Become a Therapist?

Most therapist positions require at least a master's degree, meaning you must first earn a bachelor's degree. Welch suggests choosing a major in the social sciences, such as:

  • Bachelor's degree in psychology: Study how the mind works and develop research skills through courses such as lifespan development, abnormal psychology and statistics. You can choose to add concentrations relevant to therapist specializations such as addictions, child and adolescent development and mental health.
  • Bachelor's degree in sociology: Explore human behavior as it relates to social interactions and dynamics with an undergraduate degree in sociology. This degree program can help you gain new and broad perspectives and develop skills in research, analysis and problem-solving.

If you already have a bachelor’s degree in another field, do not worry. “It has been my experience that counseling programs are understanding that people are often enrolling in counseling programs as a second career, so their undergraduate degree could be in political science or, in my case, English," Welch said. Most bachelor’s degrees will provide the foundational concepts and information you will need to pursue graduate degrees.

For most therapist specialties, such as clinical mental health counseling or clinical social work, the minimum education needed is a master’s degree. You might consider one of these master's degrees:

  • Master's degree in counseling: Learn how to provide mental health counseling to a range of clients. Through studying theories, strategies and techniques, you can grow skills relating to all aspects of counseling practice, including consultation, treatment, intervention and prevention. This degree is designed to help you become a counselor.
  • Master's degree in psychology: Dive deeper into the world of cognitive and social psychology with a degree that can help you become a psychologist. If you know you want to work with a particular audience, you might also consider specializing your psychology degree. For example, you might pursue a master's in child psychology and development.

Karen Raquel Quezada '21G became an in-home therapist shortly after earning her master's degree in psychology at SNHU. She first became interested in this field of work while obtaining a criminal justice degree – another discipline within the social sciences.

While working on her master's degree, Quezada felt each of her instructors and their varying backgrounds brought a lot of value to her. "The instructors were of great help (to) me," she said. "Their feedback allowed me to have a sense of knowledge of my strengths and things that I needed to work on."

Completing her capstone project was especially eye-opening for Quezada. It allowed her to reflect on all that she learned in her program and emerge important takeaways involving ethics, boundaries and more that she uses in her role as an in-home therapist.

"I do feel that my degree was worth it," she said. "It opened doors for me. It allowed me to grow in my personal and professional life. "

You may find that a doctorate is required for certain specialty areas, such as a clinical psychologist or counselor educator. And to become a psychiatrist, “you need (to) be a medical doctor,” Welch said. If you're wondering how these professions vary, discover the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist.

What Kind of License is Needed?

It's important to note that there are different types of licenses required for different counseling specialties. The type of license required is determined by the mental health field you choose and the state in which you intend to practice.

“Requirements for licensure include a set number of clinical hours completed under the supervision of an approved supervisor as well as passing required state licensure exams,” Cannon said.

Different types of licenses include:

  • Licensed clinical mental health counselor (LCMHC)
  • Licensed clinical professional counselor (LCPC)
  • Licensed clinical psychologist (LCP)
  • Licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT)
  • Licensed professional counselor (LPC)

Licensure requirements are top of mind at some counseling schools. For example, SNHU's online CACREP-accredited clinical mental health counseling degree is designed to help you meet the educational requirements in most U.S. states. It's important to see if there are any additional qualifications in your state to achieve licensure.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Therapist?

You'll need to start your higher education with a bachelor's degree, which is often referred to as a four-year degree. A graduate degree is needed as well. The time it takes to get a master's degree varies by school and your pacing, but they are typically known to take two years.

Quezada's master's degree took her two years to complete as a mom working full-time. "This program had the opportunity for online classes, which was something I really needed as a single working parent," she said.

If you're wondering how online classes work, exactly, the format is similar to that of a face-to-face class; you can expect to participate in class discussions and complete assignments such as academic papers. The difference is you have the flexibility to decide when and where you complete your work each week.

Some types of therapy practice, such as a counseling psychologist, “will need a PhD in Counseling Psychology as the minimum requirement for licensure,” said Cannon. Other types of therapy practice require a master’s degree.

Licensed professional counselors must have a master’s degree in counseling, “which includes the educational requirements established by the state counseling licensure board” to practice, said Cannon.

While in school, you will likely complete a practicum and gain internship experience. Depending on your state and area of specialty, “you will need to complete 2-4 years of post-graduate experience in order to be licensed,” Welch said. “I often tell students that (becoming a therapist) is a 2–5-year investment.”

Some master's-level graduates land therapist positions right away. As Quezada wrapped her final term at SNHU, she said her supervisor was already considering her growth within the organization. This led to her promotion to a master's-level clinician.

Are Therapists in Demand?

The demand is growing for therapists and mental health professionals. “This is due to a combination of factors,” Cannon said, “including the fact that mental health issues have gained more prominence in society over the last few years.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the need for services, and, right now, “many licensed therapists have waitlists,” said Welch.

In addition to the pandemic, an increase in awareness of concepts like self-care, work-life balance and even mental health days, have helped “normalize mental health issues as part of a collective sense of overall health,” Cannon said.

There are many possibilities to build a robust and meaningful career as a therapist. Often, when people think of being a therapist, “they think of working in private practice,” Welch said.

Welch also noted that therapists could work in areas such as:

  • Agency settings, where you could help connect clients with community resources
  • Community settings, where you could provide mental health support in a prison, rehabilitation facility or mental health center.
  • Hospitals, where you could help connect patients to services after they are discharged, as well as provide substance abuse counseling to patients, geriatric mental health and more
  • Schools, where you could provide services as the school psychologist

The combined awareness, acceptance and prominence of mental health issues and the need for care “is only growing the field, and I fully anticipate this will continue,” said Cannon.

In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment of substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors will grow 23% from 2020 to 2030, which is much faster than the average for all other occupations.

Do Therapists Make Good Money?

Because becoming a therapist is a tremendous time investment, you may not see a higher salary until you are licensed or working in a specialty. “Most people who go into this line of work do so because they had a personal experience with a counselor,” said Welch, “or because they want to make a difference in the world. So, a good bit of the reward of being a therapist is intrinsic.”

Depending on the educational background, license, area of client focus and geographic location, salaries can vary considerably. For example, BLS notes the median pay for mental health counselors was $48,520 in 2021. Psychologists made a median of $81,040, BLS reported.

Within psychology, there are many paths you can consider. For example, you could become a child psychologist. Marriage and family therapists made a median of $49,880 last year, BLS reported, similar to the median salary for social workers, which was $50,390.

What Makes a Good Therapist?

Being flexible, adaptable and empathetic are at the top of the list of traits that both Cannon and Welch say are important for a therapist to be successful. Welch also notes the ability to be courageous and set boundaries as necessary traits. The willingness to “constantly work on yourself, your biases and hidden assumptions” are essential traits for any therapist to succeed, said Welch. “The willingness to be a client yourself, and to recognize the strength of human resilience” are also important, she said.

All of these skills together enable therapists to help their clients strengthen their internal resources. “We want clients to use their own coping skills for the issues that come up in their lives,” Welch said. This skill can take years to build, so the ability to continuously grow and learn is key as well.

The ability to embrace and weather change is also crucial. “I cannot stress enough how important it is to be able to deal with ambiguity,” Welch said. “Often graduate programs in counseling are difficult for type-A perfectionists. You have to have a willingness to let go of what you think and become a student of the client’s work.”

What is the Job of a Therapist Like?

In clinical terms, a therapist “works directly with clients and provides some form of psychotherapy,” Cannon said. In more personal terms, the role of the therapist is to “hold space for the broken places of their clients and allow space for people to grow and change,” said Welch.

In terms of day-to-day responsibilities, the job can vary based on specialty. As a mental health counselor, Cannon works with clients one-on-one, with couples or families or in groups to provide direct mental health counseling services. The type of issues addressed can range from “life transitions to more significant and pervasive diagnosable mental health issues,” Cannon said.

Therapy can occur in:

  • Community mental health agencies
  • Hospitals
  • Outpatient programs
  • Private practice settings, such as in an office or via telehealth
  • Schools

The job itself can look very different setting by setting, therapist by therapist, because “the needs of clients and the services provided to those clients can vary” so widely, Cannon said. Regardless of the setting, the overall focus of a clinical mental health counselor is to “utilize a specific set of counseling skills, driven by an empirically valid theoretical orientation and interventions, to empower client growth and well-being,” said Cannon.

Is Counseling a Good Career?

Both Cannon and Welch agree that being a therapist is a tremendously rewarding career in the helping professions. Welch acknowledges that helping clients work through issues can result in both small and large changes. The reward comes not from the size of the change that you help your client make but from helping clients “realize the possibility that things can change,” she said.

For Cannon, being a clinical mental health counselor is a highly rewarding career. “In my work, I have the capacity to empower and support people in meaningful ways every day of my life," she said.

Whether she's helping a client work through a difficult decision or significant life trauma, she feels she's making a difference in their lives. "I am hard-pressed to think of many other careers that center on such meaningful change and offer opportunities for such significant long-term impact,” Cannon said.

What Are Some of the Biggest Challenges of This Profession?

As you might imagine, while the rewards of being a therapist are great, there are some significant challenges as well. “As much as this career can be rewarding,” said Cannon, “it can also be emotionally and mentally taxing.”

The biggest challenge, according to both Cannon and Welch, is the risk of burnout. “Therapists need to know their limits and ensure they are seeking good self-care” as part of their practice, said Cannon. The importance of self-care and personal therapy is often a part of therapist training, according to Welch.

What Advice Would You Give Someone Who is Considering This Profession?

Becoming a therapist is a big investment of time and energy. Because it can take years to achieve licensure and become qualified to establish a practice or work full-time in your chosen area, this is not a career field to enter into lightly.

This is also a field that can be very rewarding for some but is not the right fit for everyone. For that reason, it’s worth taking the time upfront to research the different options within the field of therapy to decide if this is the right career for you. “This is not a profession you can just try out to see if you like it,” Cannon said. Becoming a therapist takes some "front-end research, identity alignment and a commitment to the profession” before deciding if it's right for you, she said.

Welch advocates the importance of becoming a client yourself because “it takes a great deal of vulnerability to sit in the client’s seat and reveal deep, often painful parts of your life to a stranger,” she said. “Once you respect that position, you realize how sacred this work is.” For that reason, she recommends having your own therapist because if the idea of that is off-putting to you, “reconsider why you want to do this.”

Welch believes that the key difference between a good therapist and a great one is as simple as having the willingness to seek therapy yourself.

A degree can change your life. Find the SNHU psychology or counseling program that can best help you meet your goals.

Marie Morganelli, PhD, is a freelance content writer and editor.

How To Become a Therapist: Requirements & Experience

If you want to become a therapist but are not sure where to start, you have come to the right place.

While there are several different types of therapists, psychologists, and counselors (distinctions which we will address in this article), the path to each profession is similar.

Every one of these positions (based on our research focused on the U.S.) requires a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field, and in a few cases (particularly counseling positions) that alone is enough to start practicing.

Most of these positions, however, require prospective therapists to also go on to earn their master’s degree in psychology or a related field, at which point they can become licensed and start practicing if they have accrued enough supervised clinical experience.

Earning a Ph.D. or Psy.D. will make prospective therapists more desirable candidates, but it is not necessary to begin practicing.

Before you continue, you might want to check out our digital guidebook, ‘On Becoming a Therapist’ (Fully updated in 2021). This in-depth, step-by-step guide contains all the information you need to make informed decisions about your future while turning your interest in becoming a therapist into meaningful action. Click here to check it out.

This Article Contains:

  • Do You Need To Be A Psychologist as a Therapist?
  • Education Required to Be a Psychologist
  • Counseling Degree Requirements
  • What Kinds Of Therapists Are There?
  • How Long Does it Take to Become a Therapist?
  • What Does a Therapist Do?
  • What Makes a Good Therapist?
  • How To Become a Psychotherapist
  • How To Become a Behavioral Therapist
  • How To Become a CBT Therapist
  • How To Become a Recreational Therapist
  • How To Become a Child Therapist
  • How To Become a Family Therapist
  • How To Become An Occupational Therapist
  • A Take-Home Message
  • References

Do You Need To Be A Psychologist as a Therapist?

The difference between psychologists, therapists, and counselors is an important one to define, as some people think careers are identical. There can be overlaps, and we generally think of them all as professionals who help people with their problems.

While psychologists can also be therapists, the two careers are not interchangeable. A psychologist has a higher degree than that of a therapist, although many psychologists use their higher credentials to practice therapy.

In general, psychologists have the highest educational requirements and are held to the highest ethical standards, followed by therapists, then counselors (, 2015). Since therapists are regulated at the regional level while psychologists have more standardized career paths, some therapists might be as qualified as psychologists while others might not be.

It might also be easier to find a therapist suited to your needs (for example, marriage and family therapists) than it is to find a psychologist specifically suited to your needs.

As for counselors, there is a wide range of educational requirements and ethical standards for counselors. Some might be licensed and just as qualified as a therapist, while others might be unlicensed or less educated. In order to call oneself a therapist, one must possess either a master’s or a doctoral degree. Some counseling titles require a masters degree, while some do not.

For more information on these distinctions click here.

Education Required to Become a Psychologist

To put it simply, most psychologists have either a Ph.D. in psychology or a Psy.D., otherwise known as a Doctor of Psychology degree (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015). To distinguish between the two, a Ph.D. is completed with research towards a dissertation, while a Psy.D. is based more on clinical work.

While all of these tracks require a bachelor’s degree, some psychologist jobs (such as a school psychologist) can be obtained with a master’s degree without needing a higher degree.

Getting a Ph.D. or Psy.D. usually takes at least five years to complete. During this time there is generally a research or practicum component, and a required number of supervised clinical hours. This is the longest track to practicing as a therapist, but the job prospects are generally the best, as this is the highest credential one can earn.

Some types of psychologists require extra levels of education. For example, school psychologists might require an education specialist degree (Ed.S.) before they can start working in certain schools and includes a supervised internship consisting of over 1,000 hours of work.  (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015).

For more information on how to become a psychologist, have a look at our Positive Psychology Degree article.

Counseling Degree Requirements

Degree requirements for prospective counselors depend on what type of counseling one wants to do. To be a school or career counselor, one usually needs a master’s degree in counseling or a related field, with a specialization in career or school counseling (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015). Many regions also prefer school counselors to have teaching experience before getting licensed.

To become a rehabilitation counselor, one needs a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling or a related field (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015). Some schools offer five-year programs where prospective counselors can earn both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling.

Bachelor’s degrees are necessary for anyone looking to enter a master’s degree program.

To become a substance abuse or behavioral disorder counselor, one usually only needs a bachelor’s degree (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015). A master’s degree, however, can help a prospective counselor find work more easily. A mental health counselor should have a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling or a related field (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015).

Regardless of the type of counselor one wants to be, most regions require additional licensing. This licensing is made up of hours (around 2,000 to 4,000 in some cases) of supervised counseling experience along with passing a test.

For more information on counselors, follow these links:

  • Occupational Therapists
  • School and Career Counselors and Advisors
  • Rehabilitation Counselors

What Kinds Of Therapists Are There?

Since therapists can help a wide variety of people, there are several specializations within the profession.

This includes psychotherapists, behavioral therapists, cognitive-behavioral therapists, interpersonal therapists, mindfulness-based therapists, recreational therapists, child therapists, marriage and family therapists, and occupational therapists.

Many of these therapists positions have similar educational and career paths, but some have specific requirements as well.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Therapist?

In most cases, becoming a therapist will take at least around seven to fifteen years following graduation from high school. Most therapists need a bachelor’s degree (which takes four years to earn on average), and then a master’s degree (which takes about two to three years on average to earn) or a doctoral degree (which takes about five to seven years on average to earn).

Formal education is followed by supervised clinical hours of direct experience before one can become licensed as a therapist. This means that if one already has a bachelor’s degree, it is a matter of four to ten years before they can be licensed as a therapist.

For a more in-depth and practical look at the requirements for training, take a look at The Essential Guide, On Becoming a Therapist.

What Does a Therapist Do?

Fundamentally, therapists help people overcome their problems. These problems can come in a wide variety of forms and can include substance abuse problems, interpersonal problems with family members or coworkers, or behavioral disorders. What a therapist does depends largely on the type of therapist they are.

For example:

  • An occupational therapist helps people with temporary disabilities return to their prior level of functioning, and helps people with permanent disabilities live more independently on a day-to-day basis (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015).
  • A recreational therapist uses recreational activities such as arts and crafts to help people improve their levels of wellbeing in general (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015).
  • A marriage and family therapist helps couples, families, or individuals resolve interpersonal issues (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015).
  • A behavioral therapist can help people modify their behaviors, and generally works with people with behavioral dysfunctions.
  • A CBT therapist might help someone identify thought patterns that lead to destructive habits in their life and then help change those thought patterns (Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, 2015).
  • Finally, a child therapist can help a child cope with a behavioral or emotional disturbance so that they can develop in a more healthy manner (Miller, 2015).

What a therapist does greatly depends on what type of therapist they are, and what their clinical orientation is. At its base, the job of a therapist generally consists of helping someone improve their levels of wellbeing, improving their functioning in different areas of life, whether emotional, relational, occupational, physical, or mental.

What Makes a Good Therapist?

Some of the qualities that are helpful for therapists to have include (in alphabetical order): analytical skills, communication skills, compassion, flexibility, interpersonal skills, leadership skills, listening skills, observational skills, organization, patience, resourcefulness, speaking skills, and writing skills, to name just a few (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015).

In other words, a therapist needs to be able to communicate effectively with a client to be able to figure out what the client is looking for from a therapy session. This requires patience and listening skills as therapists need to understand what a client’s problem consists of before they can start treating it.

Therapists need to be observant, so they can hear things that are not explicitly stated by the client.

A therapist’s job consists of being able to effectively understand a client’s problem and to develop a treatment plan collaboratively with the client.

This requires therapists to be resourceful and flexible so that they can treat their clients in an individualized way based on what their clients need and are able to do.

Finally, therapists need to be organized so they can keep track of the work they have done with their clients. This record-keeping includes writing skills and speaking skills so that the therapist and the client are always on the same page. This mutual understanding is key to any therapy session.

The Essential Guide, On Becoming a Therapist, dives deeper into the specific, necessary, baseline qualities that therapists must master to help their clients in meaningful ways.

How To Become a Psychotherapist

Psychotherapists help people overcome problems in their lives, whether they are mental or interpersonal (UK Council for Psychotherapy, 2015). For example, a psychotherapist might help someone figure out why they have so much stress or how to deal with an unhealthy relationship with a coworker. Therapy typically follows the format of weekly, hour-long sessions.

To become a psychotherapist, one should first earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field. From there, one can start earning their master’s degree in psychotherapy. While earning their master’s degree, one will start accruing relevant clinical experience necessary for licensing.

In the United Kingdom, for example, one needs a master’s degree in psychotherapy and 450 hours of practice to be registered as a licensed psychotherapist by the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP).

In the US, the requirements to become a psychotherapist typically involve a pre-degree requirement of anywhere from 1000-1500 hours, and then another 1500 hours of supervised experience after obtaining your degree.

Typically, a candidate who has finished their supervised hours will get approval from the licensing board of their region to sit for a standardized clinical licensing exam before they are officially “licensed” to practice. They may practice in the interim before licensure with a conditional license usually containing the title “associate” or “intern” before their credentials.

Once licensed, psychotherapists are mandated to obtain a certain amount of education each year to keep their license and credentialing current and up-to-date.

For more information on psychotherapy certification, visit this website.

How To Become a Behavioral Therapist

Behavioral therapists help people overcome unhealthy behaviors that are self-destructive. Behavioral therapists typically treat people with cognitive disabilities, such as autism, to manage their behaviors, but may also work with people with obsessive-compulsive disorders or substance abuse issues (Falkenstein et al., 2016; Moyers et al., 2016).

Someone who wants to become a behavioral therapist should first earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field. After earning a bachelor’s degree, one can start working as a behavioral disorder counselor. In order to become a licensed behavioral therapist, one must earn their master’s degree in psychology or counseling, and work towards licensure.

Licensing requirements vary by region, and similar to psychotherapy requirements, every state in the United States requires a master’s degree and 2,000 to 4,000 hours of supervised clinical experience for behavioral therapist licensure.

For more information on behavioral therapists, visit this website.

How To Become a CBT Therapist

CBT therapists are similar to behavioral therapists, as they help people overcome destructive behaviors, but CBT therapists ultimately focus on thoughts and thought patterns (Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, 2015).

For example, a CBT therapist might help someone who consistently lashes out at work to figure out which thought patterns are causing them to do so. A CBT therapist would then work with their client to change these thought patterns, so the client stops lashing out at work.

The process of becoming a CBT therapist is almost identical to the process of becoming a psychotherapist, except that one may specialize and obtain extra certification in CBT techniques.

After earning their master’s degree, prospective CBT therapists have two options: they can either become accredited in psychotherapy and start offering CBT programs, or they can specifically become accredited in CBT therapy.

For example, in the United Kingdom, the first option might consist of getting licensed by the UKCP or the British Association for Counseling & Psychotherapy (BACP) as a general psychotherapist.

The second option consists of earning psychotherapist accreditation and then getting specifically accredited as a CBT therapist by the British Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Therapy (BABCT) or the Association for Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (AREBT).

BABCT requires 200 hours of supervised clinical experience on top of the 450 required for UKCP accreditation, to give you an idea.

For more information on CBT therapists, visit this or this website.

How To Become a Recreational Therapist

Recreational therapists help people with mental or physical health issues to improve their levels of wellbeing (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015). For example, a recreational therapist might help someone living in a nursing home lead a more fulfilling life by playing games or doing activities with them. A recreational therapist might also use sports to teach someone how to be more independent after an accident.

To become a recreational therapist one must earn a bachelor’s degree in recreational therapy or a related field. Many regions do not have specific requirements for recreational therapists. That said, most hospitals and clinical offices prefer to hire certified recreational therapists (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015).

In the United States, the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC) offers a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) certification, which is earned after obtaining a bachelor’s degree in recreational therapy and passing an exam on recreational therapy, although one can earn it by simply passing the exam on top of any other bachelor’s degree.

Further specialty certification can be obtained in areas such as behavioral health or physical rehabilitation, which might help a prospective therapist be a more competitive candidate when searching for a job.

For more information on recreational therapists, visit this website.

How To Become a Child Therapist

Child therapists help children develop in a more healthy way. For example, a child therapist might help a child understand why they cannot focus in school, and figure out ways to help the child focus better in the classroom (Miller, 2015).

Child therapists also help diagnose and treat mental health disorders in children and work with families to support the child.

Like most therapists, the path to becoming a child therapist begins with a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field. From there, one should earn a Master’s degree in child development or clinical psychology, and accrue the requisite number of supervised hours of clinical experience.

This path is again similar to that of a psychotherapist, although one interested in specifically working with children may tailor their training to specialize in techniques like expressive art therapy and child-centered play therapy. One can also go on to earn a Ph.D. or Psy.D. to be a more desirable candidate.

For more information on child therapists, visit this, this or this website.

How To Become a Family Therapist

Marriage and family therapists help families and couples overcome interpersonal issues between one another, and also help treat individuals who have mental health issues which affect their familial relationships (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015).

For example, a marriage and family therapist might help a married couple understand why they have been fighting.

A marriage and family therapist might also help a family learn how to better deal with one of their member’s anxiety issues.

To become a marriage and family therapist, one must first earn a bachelor’s degree, ideally in psychology or a similar field. After that, one can enter a master’s program in counseling psychology, marriage and family therapy, or a related field, and earn their supervised clinical hours of experience (American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, 2015).

In the United States, licensing is administered regionally by governing boards—in California, this is the Board of Behavioral Sciences.

For more information on marriage and family therapists, visit this or this website.

How To Become An Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists help people with physical and mental health issues to be more independent (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015). Occupational therapists also “aspire to promote dignity… and an adequate standard of life” for their clients (Crawford et al., 2017). For example, an occupational therapist might help someone who is new to using a wheelchair figure out how to live their day-to-day life in an independent manner.

Occupational therapists also help their client’s family members or caregivers understand how to best help the client in their daily activities.

To become an occupational therapist, one should first earn a bachelor’s degree in a program that includes some coursework in physiology or a related field. After earning a bachelor’s degree, prospective occupational therapists should volunteer or work in an occupational therapist’s office to gain experience (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015).

Prospective occupational therapists are then qualified for a master’s degree in occupational therapy, which is the requisite degree for most jobs. After earning a master’s degree, one needs to complete occupational therapist licensing, which is administered in the United States by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). From there, one should be ready to start looking for work.

For more information on occupational therapists, visit this website.

A Take-Home Message

While the path to becoming a therapist may seem extremely long, it is important to remember that there are actually several paths to becoming a therapist. If one already has a bachelor’s degree in just about any subject, they can start seeking out a master’s program in psychology or therapy.

Earning a Ph.D. increases one’s chances of getting hired, and it is important to note that many Ph.D. programs grant a master’s degree in the middle of the program.

There are also options for people who only have a bachelor’s degree, or can only realistically earn a bachelor’s degree. Without going on to earn a master’s degree, one can still work in certain counseling positions. Some people might be happy working as a counselor, while others may use their experience as a counselor to inform their pursuit of further education and licensure as a therapist.

We would love to hear about your experience gaining work experience in counseling, therapy, or psychology and what your country or state’s requirements for credentialing are.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. To learn from more than 300+ practicing therapists what it takes to create a successful career in therapy, don’t forget to check out The PositivePsychology. com Essential Guide, ‘On Becoming a Therapist’.

  • American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. (2015, December 17). About marriage and family therapists. Retrieved from
  • Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies. (2015, December 17). What is cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)? Retrieved from
  • Bairstow, A. (2016). Couples exploring nonmonogamy: Guidelines for therapists. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy 43(4), 343-353.
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2015, December 17). How to become a mental health counselor or marriage and family therapist. Retrieved from
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2015, December 17). How to become a psychologist.  Retrieved from
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2015, December 17). How to become a recreational therapist. Retrieved from
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2015, December 17). How to become a rehabilitation counselor. Retrieved from
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2015, December 17). How to become a school or career counselor. Retrieved from
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2015, December 17). How to become a substance abuse or behavioral disorder counselor. Retrieved from
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2015, December 17). How to become an occupational therapist. Retrieved from
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2015, December 17). What mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists do.Retrieved from
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2015, December 17). What occupational therapists do. Retrieved from
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2015, December 17). What recreational therapists do. Retrieved from
  • (2017). Understanding accreditation of CBT therapists. Retrieved from
  • Crawford, E., Aplin, T., & Rodger, S. (2017). Human rights in occupational therapy education: A step towards a more occupationally just global society. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal 64(2), 129-136.
  • Falkenstein, M. J., Mouton-Odum, S., Mansueto, C. S., Golomb, R. G., & Haaga, D. A. F. (2016). Comprehensive behavioral treatment of trichotillomania: A treatment development study. Behavior Modification 40(3), 414-438.
  • (2015, December 17).Counselor vs. therapist vs. psychologist. Retrieved from
  • Miller, A. (2015, December 17). Requirements for a child therapist. Retrieved from
  • Moyers, T. B., Houck, J., Rice, S. L., Longabaugh, R., & Miller, W. R. (2016). Therapist empathy, combined behavioral intervention, and alcohol outcomes in the COMBINE research project. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 84(3), 221-229.
  • (2015, December 17). Child psychologist. Retrieved from
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  • (2015, December 17). How to become a licensed behavioral therapist. Retrieved from
  • UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP). (2015, December 17). About psychotherapy. Retrieved from

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This document is included in the list of legal acts that are not subject to the requirement to cancel from 01/01/2021, established by the Federal Law of 07/31/2020 N 247-FZ.

Order of the Ministry of Health and Social Development of Russia dated July 23, 2010 N 541n (as amended on 04/09/2018) "On approval of the Unified qualification directory of positions of managers, specialists and employees, section" Qualification characteristics of positions of workers in the field . ..

District general practitioner

Job responsibilities. Identifies and monitors risk factors for the development of chronic noncommunicable diseases. Provides primary prevention in high-risk groups. Performs a list of works and services for diagnosing a disease, assessing the patient's condition and the clinical situation in accordance with the standard of medical care. Performs a list of works and services for the treatment of a disease, condition, clinical situation in accordance with the standard of medical care. Provides symptomatic assistance to oncological patients of the IV clinical group in cooperation with an oncologist. Carries out an examination of temporary disability of patients, presentation to the medical commission, referral of patients with signs of permanent disability for examination for medical and social examination. Issues conclusions on the need to refer the patient for medical reasons for sanatorium treatment, draws up a sanatorium card. Carries out organizational, methodological and practical work on medical examination of the population. Organizes the vaccination of the population in accordance with the national calendar of preventive vaccinations and according to epidemic indications. Prepares and sends an emergency notification to the institutions of Rospotrebnadzor when an infectious or occupational disease is detected. Organizes and conducts health education activities (health schools, schools for patients with socially significant non-communicable diseases and people at high risk of their occurrence). Monitors and analyzes the main medical and statistical indicators of morbidity, disability and mortality in the serviced area in the prescribed manner. Maintains accounting and reporting documentation of the established sample.

Must know: The Constitution of the Russian Federation; laws and other regulatory legal acts of the Russian Federation in the field of healthcare; Fundamentals of legislation on the protection of the health of citizens; general issues of organizing therapeutic care in the Russian Federation; the work of medical institutions, the organization of the work of ambulance and emergency care for adults and children; organization of the work of the polyclinic, continuity in its work with other institutions; organization of a day hospital and a hospital at home; the main issues of normal and pathological anatomy, normal and pathological physiology, the relationship of the functional systems of the body and the levels of their regulation; basics of water-electrolyte metabolism, acid-base balance, possible types of their disorders and principles of treatment; the system of hematopoiesis and hemostasis, the physiology and pathophysiology of the blood coagulation system, homeostasis indicators in normal and pathological conditions; fundamentals of immunology and reactivity of the body; clinical symptoms and pathogenesis of major therapeutic diseases in adults and children, their prevention, diagnosis and treatment, clinical symptoms of borderline conditions in a therapeutic clinic; basics of pharmacotherapy in the clinic of internal diseases, pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics of the main groups of drugs, complications caused by the use of drugs, methods for their correction; the basics of non-drug therapy, physiotherapy, exercise therapy and medical supervision, indications and contraindications for spa treatment; the basics of rational nutrition of healthy individuals, the principles of diet therapy for therapeutic patients; anti-epidemic measures in the event of a focus of infection; medical and social expertise in internal diseases; dispensary observation of healthy and sick people, problems of prevention; forms and methods of sanitary and educational work; demographic and social characteristics of the site; principles of organization of medical service of civil defense; questions of the relationship of the disease with the profession.

Qualification requirements. Higher professional education in one of the specialties "Medicine", "Pediatrics" and postgraduate professional education (internship and (or) residency) in the specialty "Therapy" or professional retraining in the presence of postgraduate professional education in the specialty "General Medical Practice (Family Medicine)" ", a certificate of a specialist in the specialty "Therapy" without presenting requirements for work experience.

General practitioner Physician-therapist of the local shop medical site

Therapist - what kind of specialist is this and in what cases should you contact him?

A therapist is a generalist in the medical field who knows about all the diseases of an adult. The therapist is the doctor to whom they go for advice before turning to a narrow specialist.

What tasks does a therapist perform?

To understand what a therapist is for, it should be mentioned that therapy is the basis of all medicine, as it considers the human body as a whole, without dividing it into separate fragments. Of course, narrow-profile specialists understand better in their profile. But in order to understand that the patient needs to see a surgeon, you must first get advice and referral from a therapist.

Medicine assigns the most important role to the therapist. Therefore, the therapist must have knowledge in all areas. He must be able to think logically and make intuitive, obviously correct decisions.

What diseases does

therapist treat?

The list of illnesses that the therapist helps to cure includes:

1. Acute respiratory diseases (colds).

2. Diseases caused by viruses and bacteria.

3. Diseases of the heart and blood vessels (vegetovascular dystonia, hypertension of varying degrees, ischemic disease, arterial hypertension). The therapist has many tasks. For example, according to medical requirements, this specialist is engaged in the treatment of hypertension during the first 3 months. If classical methods of treatment do not lead to positive dynamics, then the patient is referred to a cardiologist.

4. Diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, liver, pancreas, gallbladder and other ailments that have just been identified and require an urgent appointment of a specific treatment by a doctor.

5. Respiratory tract diseases that have just been identified.

6. Diseases affecting the thyroid gland, genitourinary system and ENT organs. In this case, the doctor performs 90,041 primary examinations of 90,042 patients, prescribes tests and studies, after which he can independently conduct treatment.

It is up to the therapist to be able to distinguish acute appendicitis from another acute emergency. A specialist in this profile should also be able to distinguish fracture from dislocation and accurately diagnose renal colic. This doctor must be able to carry out first aid. It is also he who is obliged to issue a referral for inpatient treatment.

An important place in medicine is occupied by therapists who treat patients with non-traditional methods of treatment. Therefore, we will briefly discuss osteopathic therapists, reflexologists and chiropractors.

What is the specificity of their knowledge and what is the treatment approach of these doctors?

All three professions have common features:

1. Doctors treat patients with their hands. In this case, the main effect occurs not through massage, but through point pressure on certain zones.

2. Doctors of these profiles were trained in higher medical institutions. This factor is mandatory, since the doctor must know the structure of the human body well so that the physical impact does not cause negative consequences.

3. Before treatment, a doctor in each of the above areas conducts a diagnosis. To do this, the doctor may need the results of blood tests, urine, stool, x-rays, ultrasound or MRI.


therapist osteopath - who is this?

This specialist knows how to painlessly influence different parts of the body in order to eliminate signs of illness.

Learn more