Psychology Jobs > Psychotherapist

A psychotherapist is a fairly broad term that covers a number of different disciplines. There is no one specific degree that a psychotherapist needs to earn in order to work as a psychotherapist so people can choose which degree program is the best one for them.

A psychotherapist can work with a number of different psychological problems as well as with a number of different client populations. Psychotherapy is for the most part a "talking therapy" designed to help people overcome what ever issues they are facing which they need help with.

A number of professions can provide psychotherapeutic interventions. These include psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, social workers, marriage and family therapists as well as psychiatric nurses.

Although people talking about their problems to other people has been around probably from the first time that people began to talk, it wasn't until Sigmund Freud developed the concept of psychoanalysis that psychotherapy began to be a specific discipline.

Freud believed that psychological problems had their roots in childhood experiences and the unconscious mind. A number of other psychotherapists such as Jung, Alder and Erikson continued to develop their own methods of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy.

In the 1920s, behavioural modification became a popular therapeutic technique amongst psychotherapists. A psychotherapist using this approach would look at bringing changes to observable behaviour. One area that was found to work well with behavioural modification is using the technique to alleviate phobias.

Other developments in psychotherapy included the work of Rollo May and Viktor Frankl, who looked at ways people could find meaning in their lives. They believed that if meaning or a purpose was attached to difficulties and life in general, then people would be better able to cope with these problems.

Carl Rogers' work on person centred psychotherapy brought some of these ideas by May and Frankl into the mainstream. Rogers believed that the relationship between the psychotherapist and the patient was extremely important. The psychotherapist needed to provide unconditional acceptance and empathy into the patient psychotherapist relationship which would allow clients to express themselves without fear.

psychotherapist job In the 1970s, cognitive behavioural therapy became the next important method which combined the approaches of both cognitive and behavioural therapeutic approaches. This approach involved the psychotherapist helping a client identify thoughts, beliefs and behaviour patterns in an effort to effect change.
Cognitive behavioural therapy has branched out into a number of different techniques for delivering psychotherapy including solution focused therapy, and positive psychotherapy.

What Does A Psychotherapist Do?

A psychotherapist works in a wide variety of areas with a wide variety of clients. A psychotherapist can work with children, families and adults as well as focus on specific treatment issues. For example, a psychotherapist could choose to focus on working with adults suffering from addiction or with children who have been sexually abused. The psychotherapist could also choose to work with individuals or with groups.

A psychotherapist will typically be called upon to deliver individual therapy sessions to a client as well as possibly providing group therapy aimed at getting the client to talk and participate in the therapeutic process. The length of therapy will depend on the focus and preferences of the psychotherapist and can run anywhere from a few weeks to a few years. The psychotherapist will also have to develop ways to determine the efficacy of treatment and continue professional development through most of the psychotherapist's career.

Typically treatment will involve a psychotherapist helping clients understand their feelings, behaviours and thought processes as well as understand any inner conflicts they may have. The psychotherapist will help a client explore new ways to deal with problems in order to diminish the impact these problems have on a client.

The method of treatment that a psychotherapist chooses to use will depend on the problems faced by a client as well as by the interests of the psychotherapist. Some methods of treatment that are still popular today include psychoanalysis, cognitive behavioural therapies and systemic therapies as well as others. Regardless of the type of therapy a psychotherapist uses, each method needs to be tailored to the individual needs of the client.

Behavioral Cognitive Therapy

One of the most common forms of therapy provided by a psychotherapist is behavioural cognitive therapy. This form of psychotherapy has also been found to be one of the most effective. A psychotherapist using behavioural cognitive therapy seeks to find ways to have clients identify thoughts, feelings and behaviours that are causing difficulties and then the psychotherapist will develop strategies to help the client change these problem behaviors. Behavioural cognitive therapy has been found to be effective with a number of psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, self-esteem issues, and anger management as well as others.


Psychoanalysis is one of the oldest forms of psychotherapy and is still popular today. Treatment from a psychotherapist who uses psychoanalysis is long term treatment which focuses on unconscious forces that can have a negative effect on a person's psychological well being. A person's unconscious can have an effect on a person's level of happiness, as well as cause difficulties at work, in relationships and with a person's mood.

Systemic Therapy

A psychotherapist interested in systemic therapy does not look at people on an individual level but instead looks at clients as people in relationships. How people interact in groups or with other people can cause a number of problems in a person's relationships. A psychotherapist interested in marriage and family counselling will often provide service to clients from this model of therapy.

These are only three of the many possible ways that a psychotherapist can provide service. There are a number of other treatment models and there are even a number of different approaches to treatment within treatment model. For example, a psychotherapist using a behavioural cognitive approach can use a rational emotive therapy or a solution focused therapy approach.

What Are The Educational Requirements To Become A Psychotherapist?

In order to become a psychotherapist, a person does not have to choose a psychology degree. There are other disciplines or degree courses that a person can follow to become a psychotherapist. A psychotherapist can obtain a degree in social work, nursing or educational counselling as well as in psychology. Even if you choose to follow a different degree program to become a psychotherapist, you will still need to take some psychology courses and pass a licensing exam.

Ph.D. In Psychology: One degree option is the Ph.D. in Psychology. This degree is similar to the Psy.D. in psychology but there is a larger focus on research. Even if someone is interested in counselling, the Ph.D. program can still be a good choice because it can be easier to find programs and grant money for a Ph.D. program compared to a Psy.D. program. A Ph.D. will allow the psychotherapist to use the tile psychologist after passing the necessary state exams and obtaining the correct license.

Doctorate (Psy.D.) In Psychology: A Psy.D. in Psychology is a more recent doctorate degree and it is mainly for people who are interested in focusing on counselling. A psychotherapist with a Psy.D. degree will be able to use the title psychologist as well although the psychotherapist needs to pass the required state exams in order to be a psychologist.

Doctorate In Education (Ed.D.): This degree is a doctorate of education and a psychotherapist obtaining this doctorate degree will be involved in helping clients deal with learning disabilities and other developmental issues as well as problems that students may experience within the school setting.

Master's In Psychology: A Master's in Psychology will allow you to be a psychotherapist in a number of different mental health organizations. Although some states may allow you to use the title of psychologist, most states require a doctorate degree in psychology. You still need to pass a licensing exam to be a psychotherapist and will need to check out the requirements with your state.

Master's In Counseling: A Master's in Counseling will also allow you to be a psychotherapist. The focus of this graduate program is more on counseling methods and how to provide counseling to clients that an M.A. in Psychology. Again, you will still need to obtain the correct license from the state and you may even be required to take extra courses to meet all the necessary requirements.

Master's In Social Work: A Master's in Social Work is a popular choice for people interested in becoming psychotherapists. This graduate degree will typically require an internship and being supervised in the field. A psychotherapist with a Master's in Social Work will be able to provide psychotherapy to a variety of clients for a variety of issues. An exam will also be required for a psychotherapist to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and to be able to provide treatment to clients.

Master's In Advanced Psychiatric Nursing: This is typically the degree taken by nurses who want to become psychotherapists. There will be more focus on psychology courses in this course than other nursing courses and as with the other options to become a psychotherapist, a person will need to pass the necessary state licensing requirements.

These courses may all have different areas of focus so it is important to choose the right path which will coincide with your interests. Regardless of the education degree you obtain, in all likelihood you will need to obtain at least a Master's degree in order to be a psychotherapist and find a decent job.

Often, depending on the chosen focus of a psychotherapist, there may be a requirement to get further education. For example, a psychotherapist who wants to work as a marriage and family therapist may be required to take extra courses that are unique to that discipline. The same may be required for people interested in focusing on addictions.

Before a person can practice psychotherapy a state licensing exam usually needs to be taken and passed. The individual requirements for becoming a psychotherapist varies between the different states so people who are interested in becoming a psychotherapist will need to investigate the requirements for their state.

Where Does A Psychotherapist Work?

Just as there are many paths a person could follow to become a psychotherapist, there are a number of different places that a psychotherapist can work. The main areas where a psychotherapist will find work include publicly funded mental health organizations, the school system and private practice as well as in hospitals. Psychotherapists may also find work in organizations such as the military providing therapy to military personnel.

Within a mental health organization or private practice, a psychotherapist can focus on a wide variety of issues such as addictions, marriage and family counselling, adult counselling, anger management, sexual abuse or even phobias. A psychotherapist can also work with the educational system helping children adjust to school and ensure that their school years are productive years. The area that a psychotherapist chooses to work will basically come down to the specific interests of the psychotherapist.

The salary of a psychotherapist will depend on experience as well as the type of degree and training that a psychotherapist has. A psychotherapist with a Ph.D. in psychology can make anywhere between $40,000 and $100,000 per year whereas a licensed clinical social worker can make between $35,000 and $75,000 per year.

A psychotherapist is a person who has been trained to deliver treatment to people suffering from a variety of issues. It is a broad general term with a number of educational paths available to becoming a psychotherapist. Psychotherapists can basically choose the population group that they want to work with and then pursue the necessary training in order to provide therapy. This freedom to focus on your own individual interests in delivering therapy makes becoming a psychotherapist a rewarding and interesting career.