According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, Occupational therapists are among the highest-paid therapists in the U.S. In 2019, their median pay was $40.84 per hour and $84,950 annually.
Do you have a passion for helping people overcome their struggles and reconnect with who they are? A therapist’s primary weapons are empathy and compassion. They use their compassion for others to help them overcome their problems.
Are you trying to figure out how to become a therapist? If yes, you should check out our guide here on the key steps to take.
What’s the Work of a Therapist?
A therapist is a professional who works with sick or injured people to help them improve, recover, or manage their pain. They work in medical fields associated with the mind and the physical body.
Therapists help their patients deal with physical, emotional, or mental issues. They also develop a treatment plan for the patients and prescribe non-medicinal treatment options.
Types of Therapists
There are many types of therapy, depending on the field of specialization. Thus, there are many different types of therapists. Some types of therapists include:
A physical therapist assists ill and injured patients to manage pain and improve their movement. They play an essential role in the treatment, recovery, and care of patients with severe injuries and chronic illnesses. Some of these patients include neck and back injury patients, amputees, arthritis, and stroke patients.
An occupational therapist helps patients overcome mental and physical problems. These problems result from injuries, illnesses, disability, or old age. They help patients adapt to their new realities after significant life-changing surgery, injury, or illness.
This type of therapist helps patients with cardiopulmonary or breathing disorders. They work with patients suffering from chronic respiratory diseases like emphysema and asthma.
A massage therapist helps patients manage and relieve pain, improve blood circulation, boost relaxation, and improve their health. They do this by manipulating the body’s soft tissues using touch. A massage therapist will use hands, elbows, and fingers to apply pressure and kneed the injured tissue to promote healing.
Mental Health therapists
These are professionals who work with individuals dealing with emotional, cognitive, and behavioral problems. They can work with families, individuals, communities, or groups to overcome mental health issues. They assist patients suffering from depression, anxiety disorder, and phobias.
Family and Marriage Therapists
These are therapists who specialize in marital and family issues. They help people overcome and manage family and marital problems.
How to Become a Therapist
To become a therapist, you must have the educational requirements and complete the necessary training. While different types of therapists have different licensing and educational requirements, below are four essential steps all therapists must complete:
Get a Bachelor’s Degree
The first step to becoming a therapist is earning a bachelor’s degree. Ensure you apply to a regionally-accredited school for your degree.
You should also ensure that you attend a school within the state you would like to practice. Different universities and colleges modify their curriculums depending on their state’s licensing necessities. However, if you are looking to practice in another state, ensure you join a school that partakes in reciprocity agreements.
A reciprocity agreement covers a student and ensures they don’t need to retake licensing exams when they decide to practice in a different state.
Complete All the Required Training
In some states, bachelor’s degree holders can practice in their respective fields under fully-licensed therapists’ supervision. This helps prospective therapists gain experience as they work on getting a master’s degree.
You Must Complete Clinical Work
To become a therapist, you must complete 2,000-4,000 hours of supervised clinical work. During this stage, you’re allowed to apply your knowledge on patients. Upon completion, your clinical supervisor will grade you and give you feedback.
Students in distant learning programs must also complete in-person supervised clinical studies. However, students who live far from school can complete their clinical hours within their community.
Take a Licensing Examination
To practice in any state, you must have a license. Every state has its licensing requirements. But all candidates are required to have at least two years of supervised experience in their respective fields.
Skills Required to Be a Therapist
To be a successful therapist, you must possess specific personal skills. Some of these skills are acquired in school and during training, while others are learned from day-to-day life experiences. Below are the essential traits and skills needed to become a therapist:
Empathy is the ability to identify with your patient’s feelings and understand their experiences. To help people, you must first understand their pain even when you disagree with them.
In all types of therapy, professionals must listen to their patients. Being a good listener means paying attention to everything your client is saying. It also means understanding what the client is not saying.
An example is if you encounter a sexual assault survivor who refuses to talk about the incident. A good therapist will use their listening skills to interpret what a patient’s silence means.
You must be a critical thinker when dealing with patients. Your skills will come in handy when making diagnoses and coming up with effective treatment plans. Sometimes even the best treatment plan can fail, and the patient will look to you for a better alternative.
Business Management Skills
If you are looking to set up a private practice, you must have good business management skills. This includes understanding taxes, finances, and time management. Most therapists prefer hiring an office manager to help run their businesses.
Going into private practice means setting up and running a business. This will need an understanding of how different departments work, including marketing. Unfortunately, most therapists often feel lost in the world of marketing.
Running a successful business requires a good therapist marketing strategy. This is the key to finding new clients and retaining existing ones.
Are You Ready to Be a Therapist?
If you love helping people and have a passion for therapy, you should follow your heart. It’s a blessing to work in a field that you love. Ensure you follow the four requirements outlined above on how to become a therapist.
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