Individuals wanting to become a licensed therapist often wonder about which is the best path to achieve that career goal. While possessing only a bachelor’s degree in counseling will not qualify you to be a licensed therapist, it will still be of much benefit because it is a prerequisite for a master’s program which you will have to complete to obtain your licensure.
Where do Licensed Therapists Work?
Licensed therapists are provided the opportunity to gain employment in a variety of settings, including the following places:
- Substance abuse centers
- Mental health facilities
- Private practices
- Health clinics
Becoming a Licensed Therapist
No matter the type of licensed therapist you are wanting to become, you will have to obtain at least a master’s degree in counseling or a related field. In addition, you will have to take part in supervised clinical practice. You will need great listening and communication skills to be successful in this line of work as well as superb organizational skills.
Earning Your Bachelor’s Degree
If you already have a bachelor’s degree in counseling, you can go ahead and apply to a master’s program. If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, you need to get this out of the way first. Earning your bachelor’s degree will take about four years. Your degree major can be in counseling or some type of related field, such as psychology or sociology.
While you are earning your bachelor’s degree, this will be a great time for you to obtain a part-time job working in a therapy setting. For example, you could become a secretary for a therapist running his or her own private practice. Any experience that you can get in the therapy industry will prove to be extremely valuable.
Earning Your Master’s Degree
Now that you have earned a bachelor’s degree, it is now time to start your master’s program. This program will probably take anywhere from one to three years to complete, with the longevity depending on the type of therapy that you are wanting to specialize in. One of the best types of master’s programs to take part in to become a licensed therapist is the Master’s of Social Work program. After graduating from this program and obtaining the appropriate licensure, you will be able to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.
No matter the master’s program you decide to take part in, you will have to take part in field work before you will be allowed to graduate. This fieldwork is extremely important because it will provide you with hands-on experience related to working as a licensed therapist. Also, the fieldwork will count towards your ability to apply for licensure.
Depending on the state you live in, you may have to pass state exams in addition to professional examinations to obtain your licensure. After you earn your licensure, to maintain it, you will be required to take part in continuing educational courses.
The requirements for becoming a licensed therapist are pretty standard, although your own personal interests and field experience will make your specific path to becoming a licensed therapist unique.