Becoming a Psychotherapist: Salaries & Career Outlook
Psychotherapy is generally considered as “talking therapy,” where the psychotherapists, with their expertise, help patients or individuals to share their thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors and accordingly will resolve these concerns by applying psychology methods. A psychotherapist can carry out an individual practice or be a part of a hospital/organization wherever the requirement for psychotherapy is. The career of a psychotherapist is booming, with the demand for proficiency coming in from different fields. The salaries and job outlook for a psychotherapist are projected to grow at a faster rate as compared to other occupations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary of a psychotherapist (classified under psychologists) is $81,040 per year, and the projected growth rate between 2021-2031 is 6%.
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How to Become a Psychotherapist
If you want to become a psychotherapist and understand how to become one, then it is advisable to know the basics, like education requirements. To become a psychotherapist, you must have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in psychology to help you enter the profession. One must have a doctorate if looking for individual practice.
- Bachelor’s degree: An individual with a bachelor’s degree in psychology can pursue only entry-level jobs.
- Master’s degree: A master’s degree adds much heft to a resume. After completing a master’s degree in psychology, good supervision under a senior and a licensed psychologist will help in getting the experience of independently handling patients.
- Doctorate: A doctorate, especially in a specialized area, will increase your prospects of attaining a job far better than others and is usually a requirement for licensure in most states.
Variations of Psychotherapy
The “talk cure” or psychotherapy is widely accepted, and the profession’s requirement is across many fields. Psychotherapy is an allied medical practice wherein a private organization, government body, or people seek help for their staff or individual mental well-being—every career branches out for different opportunities and variations in roles and responsibilities. The following is a list of types of psychotherapy from which the professional can choose to treat an individual and build a career.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – Individuals suffering from depression, anxiety, trauma-related disorder, or eating disorders can reach out to a psychotherapist who can treat this illness through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT. During the counseling session, the therapist will channel the individual’s concerns by identifying and changing their thinking and behavior patterns so that they are no more negative patterns contributing to depression.
- Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) – Interpersonal Therapy or IPT is a short-term treatment where the individual’s interpersonal issues, like conflicts with a partner, changes in work roles, and other concerns, cause a blockade in daily life. The patient is helped through sessions to overcome their problems, express their emotions, and will be able to communicate and relate with others better. These interpersonal concerns are considered depression, and the treatment is recommended similarly.
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – This behavior is like CBT, wherein the therapist tries to regulate the emotions through therapy sessions/counseling. The patients who undergo treatment have suicidal thoughts, personality disorders, eating disorders, and other unstable mental issues. Dialectical Behavior Therapy, or DBT, helps correct this behavior and bring back mental wellness.
- Psychodynamic Therapy – There are certain instances in childhood that will also bring distress through our adult life. At times these scenarios can be underlying and beyond one’s conscious experience. During Psychodynamic Therapy, the psychotherapist ensures that the patient is self-aware of the instances. They try to influence their current situations, slowly work on turning ineffective to these impressions/scenarios, and are self-aware.
- Supportive Therapy – Most of us would not require encouragement or guidance to cope with scenarios, build self-esteem, and confidently move in social functioning. However, many need proper assistance or support to deal with these issues, which is where Supportive Therapy will help. Supportive therapists help patients work on their fears and improve their mental health.
Roles a Psychotherapist Can Take On in the Workplace
Now that the different therapy patterns a psychotherapist can take up for specializing have been outlined, there are other roles or titles an individual can consider for career growth or a switch, namely:
- Psychologists: To practice as a psychologist, one must hold a Ph.D., a doctorate, or a master’s degree in psychology. A doctorate and a master’s are vital because one must diagnose the patient’s conditions through different tests and suggest treatments accordingly. It is also necessitated by law.
- Psychiatrists: Psychiatry is a branch of psychotherapy wherein the therapist or the practitioner can only write medications for the illnesses. Psychiatrists cannot work without a Doctor of Medicine, but they are permitted to use similar techniques used by a psychotherapist to analyze a patient and recommend behavioral therapy.
- Psychoanalysts: This practice is also part of psychotherapy. However, the working of it is based on the Sigmund Freud fundamentals. According to these principles/teachings, changes in human behavior or mental challenges are caused by the subconscious mind, which positively affects the patient’s social, emotional, and mental health. Although medical training is unnecessary, one would require a doctoral degree to become a psychoanalyst.
- Social Workers: Social workers greatly aid hospitals, educational institutions, and organizations. Few social workers also practice independently as psychotherapists, using the same methodologies and techniques to assess the client and bring positive mental growth. They usually work in smaller groups and have only a master’s degree in psychology; hence the usage of tests and other assessments is lesser than the ones suggested by the psychotherapists.
What Does a Psychotherapist Do?
The general idea of psychotherapy is addressing patients’ mental concerns and issues and resolving them through sessions and counseling. A psychotherapist helps individuals suffering from anxiety, stress, depression, and other challenges. Psychotherapy is practiced by many trained professionals, including psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health nurse practitioners, social workers, etc. The profession is about curing mental health problems through conversation and expression.
How Much Does a Psychotherapist Make?
While understanding what educational path to pursue to become a psychotherapist is a must, it is equally essential for an individual to understand career growth, job outlook, and the salaries they might earn. The following table presents an idea of the median annual salary drawn by each role related to psychotherapy:
What is the Job Outlook for Psychotherapists?
The overall job outlook for psychotherapists and related professions is good. With the recent pandemic wreaking havoc in people’s lives, the demand for mental healthcare is rising, ensuring that several more jobs will be added in the coming years. Here is an overview of some roles and their job outlook:
|Psychologists||The projected growth rate of jobs as psychologists is 6% from 2021 to 2031.|
|Psychiatrists||As with psychologists, the projected growth rate of jobs as psychiatrists (classified under psychologists) can also be considered 6% from 2021 to 2031.|
|Social Workers||The projected growth rate for jobs as social workers is 9% between 2021 and 2031.|
|Psychoanalysts||Although no specific or credible data is available for the job outlook for psychoanalysts, it would be safe to assume that the growth rate could be in the region of other similar roles.|
FAQs on Psychotherapy & Psychotherapists
|Q. Who do psychotherapists work with?|
|A. A certified or licensed psychotherapist mainly works independently with individual adults, groups, families, or with children and young individuals. They can also join an organization, school, or a hospital to render services.|
|Q. Can psychotherapists prescribe psychiatric medication?|
|A. Psychiatric medication can be prescribed only by a psychiatrist or a psychiatric nurse. A psychotherapist is not authorized or certified to prescribe antidepressants or other medicines to patients.|
|Q. Why would any individual want to talk to a therapist?|
|A. Individuals unable to cope with the stress or pain they are going through would like to express their situation and get a solution to their illness and increase their mental well-being; that is when they look out for therapy.|
|Q. Do psychotherapists maintain confidentiality during sessions?|
|A. It is a must that therapists should refrain from divulging any details of their patients to other individuals. However, they may be required to share the requisite information wherever or whenever the law mandates.|
Additional Resources for Psychotherapists
A professional therapist, or a psychotherapist student, would require some additional help or source to aid them in varied scenarios. These resources help them seek the requisite information related to their psychiatric field and look for networking opportunities that will open lanes for better prospects. Here are a few resources to explore:
- American Academy of Psychotherapists (AAP) – The American Academy of Psychotherapists is a multidisciplinary association explicitly catered to therapists. The academy is founded to strengthen and support individuals from psychotherapy academics or careers by increasing their interpersonal engagement. The academy conducts workshops, process groups, and networking with clinicians who work intensive training courses.
- American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA) – The American Group Psychotherapy Association is dedicated to mental health clinicians nationally and internationally. The association provides access to different psychotherapy programs, educational options, professionals, research, outreach services, and more.
- American Psychotherapy Association (APA) – The American Psychotherapy Association aims to provide credentials, standards of practice, professional identity, and self-regulation for the psychotherapy profession. The objective of APA is to make it possible for professionals and students to know and explore more about psychotherapy and elevate networking along with therapy practice.
- International Association for Cognitive Psychotherapy (IACP) – The International Association of Cognitive Psychotherapy’s core mission is to ensure that the global modern integrative CBT is innovative, personal, charitable, and accessible to CBT researchers, providers, and communities. IACP conducts congresses and events and is associated with various associations to create a collaborative space.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – Occupational Outlook for Psychologists