Education and Training: Masters or doctoral degree and state licensure
Average Salary: $64,140
Job Outlook: Good
Psychotherapists are commonly known as psychologists in the United States. They study a range of human behavior, like mental problems, emotional issues, and behavioral and developmental blocks. A psychotherapist can choose to work with couples, families, individuals or children.
The chief responsibility of a psychotherapist is to understand their client’s inner feelings and help them deal with these problems through methods like behavioral and systemic therapies.
In a typical psychotherapist work environment, a therapist interacts in one to one sessions with clients to help understand their problems and also to build trust. Psychotherapists can choose to work in a clinic or hospital, build their private practice, work in forensics, or join organizations as consultants.
Education and Training Requirements
For independent practice and teaching or research related jobs, a doctoral degree such as PhD or PsyD is required. A bachelor degree in psychology can help you get jobs in community health centers and rehabilitation centers in assistant level positions, which adds to your work experience. Though it is easy to find employment after an undergraduate degree, clinical and research related jobs are highly selective.
Most master level programs require a bachelor degree in psychology or a minimum of 24 semester hours of psychology.
After completing a PhD or PsyD program, psychotherapists get a state license to allow them to practice as clinical or school psychologists. The requirements for becoming a school psychotherapist are extensive – you will need to study special courses and take a national licensing examination.
Several advanced certifications are offered by the American Board of Professional Psychology to help psychotherapists advance in their careers.
Getting the Job
A psychotherapist can get a job by applying to vacancies in clinics or schools, depending on their qualifications. Since psychotherapists are employed by many different industries, the entry path to this career is subjective. Federal jobs require a minimum one year supervisory experience.
Research based positions in universities can be extended to students who are still working towards a PhD or PsyD degree.
Those with a bachelor degree can get entry level assistant positions in clinics or with independently practicing therapists.
Job Prospects, Employment Outlook, and Career Development
Ample job opportunities exist for psychotherapists with doctoral degrees and advanced certifications. While it is not difficult for bachelor or master degree students to get jobs, their career path may not proceed as fast as that of a doctoral student.
There will be an estimated 12% increase in the number of psychotherapist jobs by 2018 because of the increase of therapist related services in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and small to large businesses. An increase in employee assistant programs and problems due to unhealthy lifestyles will create more employment opportunities for clinical psychotherapists.
Career advancement depends on the industry a therapist is employed in. An independently practicing psychotherapist will continue to work at the same level but with increased experience, he or she can take on part time consulting jobs at private companies.
Working Conditions and Environment
Working conditions vary depending on the area and subject of work. Clinical and school psychologists have private offices and have the freedom to choose their own hours of work. Those employed in clinics or hospitals may have to work in shifts or over the weekends.
Salary and Benefits
The median annual salary in 2008 was $64,140 for clinical psychotherapists. Those with their independent practices can earn more than $100,000 annually.
Psychotherapists employed in federal jobs or hospitals receive benefits like sick leave, and paid time off while those employed with private companies get benefits that the company has set for other employees.
Where to Go for More Information
American Board of Professional Psychology
600 Market St., Ste. 300
Chapel Hill, NC 27516
American Psychological Association
750 First St. NE
Washington, DC 20002
National Association of School Psychologists
4340 East West Highway, Ste. 402
Bethesda, MD 20814