What Degree Is Needed To Be a Psychotherapist?

PsychotherapistBefore you can open your own practice or work with a single patient, you need to know the type of degree needed to be a psychotherapist. Psychotherapists must have a graduate degree from an accredited college or university, but they also need to meet other requirements before they start practicing. They often work in the marriage and family sector, but they can also work with the elderly, single people and even kids.

What is a Psychotherapist?

Psychotherapy is a category of psychology that deals with the connection between a patient and his or her doctor or medical professional. Psychotherapists use cognitive behavioral therapy, dream analysis, free association and other methods to help patients deal with the stresses they encounter and any mental diseases they have. They often treat those suffering from depression, anxiety disorders, bulimia, anorexia and mood disorders, but they may also work with those recovering from a problem with drugs or alcohol. Psychotherapists meet with patients and talk with them about their issues before suggesting a course of treatment.

Where do They Work?

Before looking at the type of degree needed to be a psychotherapist, you might want to look at where these professionals work. A large number of professionals own their own practices and treat patients in their offices. Therapists also work in community centers and community clinics to help those who cannot afford treatment. You’ll also see some therapists working for hospitals and helping those recently diagnosed with a medical condition and the friends and family members of those admitted to the hospital. Substance abuse treatment centers and rehabilitation centers also hire psychotherapists to assist with solo therapy and group therapy sessions.

Types of Degrees for the Job

There isn’t one specific type of degree needed to be a psychotherapist, but those working in the field must have a graduate degree in one of the social sciences. Many students enter graduate school after earning an undergraduate degree in social work, sociology or psychology. Depending on your state, you may have the chance to work as a licensed psychotherapist after finishing a bachelor’s degree in psychology and going through an internship or training program at a local hospital. If you want the chance to prescribe medications to your patients, you need a medical license. Psychiatrists and medical doctors must go through medical school and complete a residency requirement in the field.

Internship and Other Requirements

Most psychotherapy programs require that students complete an internship at the end of their studies. After finishing your courses, you’ll spend a third year working at a hospital, community center or another medical facility. Students must work under the guidance of a licensed psychotherapist and keep a detailed log about when they work and what they do. Some programs may require the completion of a thesis too. According to the International Board for Certification of Group Psychotherapists, those planning to work in group homes and group settings need to pass the certification exam after finding their degree and internship.

Related Resource: Counselor Salary

Psychotherapists help patients recovery from mental illnesses, substance abuse and other problems through a variety of different treatments and methods. Graduate school lets you learn more about those methods and work with patients. Though there isn’t a specific degree needed to be a psychotherapist, you do need to finish a graduate degree in a social sciences field.