How to Become a Mental Health Therapist

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Are you interested in becoming a mental health therapist but aren’t sure what path to take to achieve that?

Introduction to How to Become a Mental Health Therapist

A mental health therapist is a rewarding career choice as you will have the opportunity to assist people in dealing with their cognitive challenges more often.

According to National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), more than 43 million American adults have mental difficulties every year.

This figure is so high and also stresses the importance of the profession of mental health therapy. Mental issues, in addition to hard drugs, dementia, and childhood trauma continue to make the demand for licensed mental health therapists high.

This article will work you through the important steps to be taken if you must be among the mental health therapists making a real difference in today’s health sector.

Ready to learn more? Let’s get right into it!

Pursue and Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

You need to follow a bachelor’s degree and earn it to be a mental health therapist. However, you don’t need to major in psychology or sociology to obtain a graduate degree in mental therapy.

Furthermore, many notable persons in the field have advised every prospective therapist to get a good foundation in these subjects, as doing so makes the journey quite easy to follow.

According to Franc Hudspeth, courses in human growth and development assist students to comprehend the process of human growth while giving them a clearer understanding of the transitions that take place during childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.

There’s also a need to take classes that focus on cultural diversity as these professionals would be working with people from different socioeconomic and multicultural backgrounds.

Complete a Master’s Degree in a Related Subject

Another important step to take if you want to become a mental health therapist is to follow a master’s degree program related to mental therapy.

By standard, mental health specialist is expected to complete 60 credits hours of graduate modules in counseling.

Courses should cut across themes such as research methods and program evaluation, substance use disorders, group counseling and addictions, and diagnosis of emotional and mental disorders.

Also, budding therapists should learn to work individually with little or no supervision during this coursework, as this is one of the major requirements of the field.

You must be able to take as much as possible, skills, and requisite knowledge from the program. You also must develop your listening skills, which will foster your ability to clearly hear peoples’ ideas without hassles and make the needed mental notes.

Develop your Soft Skills

You must also work on your soft skills as they are needed skills when you start practicing.

The best time to do this is when you’re still following your degrees, you should set aside time to work on these soft skills.

Here are some of the skills you should develop:

  •  Empathy 

Trying to understand the way your patients feel is one of the surefire ways of assisting them with whatever challenges they are facing.

Empathy makes you assist the patients more objectively about their experiences.

  • Active listening 

Every therapist must develop their listening skills so as to be able to understand every detail about the challenges the patients are undergoing.

It’s when you know this that you can assist them well. One important strategy here is that it’s a good practice for the therapist to repeat often what the patients have said so that they know you are indeed following everything they are saying.

  • Communication 

As you continue to practice as a therapist, you will get to encounter patients who aren’t comfortable spilling every detail about them.

But with the use of advanced communication skills, you can get every detail about these patients. This is one of the reasons why every mental health therapist needs to develop communication skills.

To promote a comfortable and successful section, you must adopt different communication styles to suit the patient you are trying to help.

Also, you may have to break down the complex concept to them, and this can only be possible with great communication skills in place.

Complete a Clinical Work

If you want to be a licensed mental health therapist, there’s a need for you to complete thousand of logged and clinical hours under supervision.

The purpose of this is to intimate you with the practical aspect of the coursework you have done while pursuing your studies.

Many undergraduate and graduate degree programs have been structured in such a way that there are practical clinics where students can attend to patients under licensed and well-experienced therapists.

This brings them to the realities of the profession, and they also get to put everything they have learned theoretically to use.

Apply for Licensure 

If you want to be a mental health therapist, the next thing to do is to apply to sit for the state’s legally required licensure exam.

This can only be done after you have completed your degrees in an appropriate subject.

The state licensure exam covers the psychological theories of therapy and the state’s laws regarding mental treatment.

To remain licensed, there’s a need to complete 40 hours of continuing further studies every two years.

Root for Voluntary Certificates 

There are many voluntary certifications you should root for as a budding mental health therapist. These certificates highlight how exceptional therapists in various therapy specializations.

The certificates include certified clinical mental health counselors and nationally certified counselors.

Work on your Resume and Cover Letter 

Now there’s a need to put the icing on the cake by positioning yourself for the life-changing career of being a mental health therapist by working on your resume and cover letter.

You must show the employer you are the ideal candidate for the position by carefully and concisely putting all the information on paper.

Ensure you include your education, relevant courses you did, and details about the clinical experience. What roles have you played and the achievements you’ve had throughout working as a volunteer.

Also, the cover letter must show the motivation for applying for a mental health therapist role and the relevant experience you’ve had that makes you an ideal candidate. You should also include the future plans as to what you intend to do in the coming years.

Final Thoughts on How to Become a Mental Health Therapist

From the foregoing, it can be conveniently said that becoming a mental health therapist isn’t rocket science but certainly not as easy as a walk in the park.

You’ve got to work towards achieving this lofty goal of being a human helper. This is a respectful and rewarding profession, and every person seems to know and want to associate with you.


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