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What’s It Like to Be a Psychotherapist?

April 30, 2014
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Have you always been interested in human behavior and societal functionality? Though many are interested in this field, it takes a unique individual to follow a career path centered around psychotherapy. Treating the mental, emotional, and psychiatric conditions and needs of individuals can be a challenging career; however, it may also be one of the most rewarding. Helping other people develop coping mechanisms to assist in managing their disorder is the main goal of psychotherapy.

What is a Psychotherapist?


A psychotherapist is a professional who studies the feelings, thoughts, and behaviors of patients who have both singular and numerous health conditions. With a wide range of mental health knowledge, a psychotherapist is responsible for creating an environment that allows individuals with mental disorders to cope and overcome certain triggers and mindsets.

In general, psychotherapists have set schedules for each day that are based on clientele. 30- to 60-minute sessions are common after the initial interview. These sessions are usually one-on-one, as they strive to deal with certain aspects of a client’s personal life and the development of new abilities. Utilizing non-medical treatments, psychotherapists come up with a plan to manage disorders and generate real-life coping techniques for each individual patient.

Personality Specifications

Similar to other counseling professions, it takes someone with a unique and genuinely caring personality to be a psychotherapist. Using personal life experience with training allows these professionals to understand what clients are going through and aides in the development of an effective course of treatment. Knowing what to say at the correct time is key to being a successful psychotherapist. Of course, this involves intuitiveness, knowledge of various conditions, and empathy. Being able to effectively deal with stressful situations, flexibility, and advanced listening skills are essential.

Career Outlook

As more information arises about various mental conditions and the needs of those experiencing these conditions are socialized, the need for psychotherapists will continue to grow. As a society, we are now focused on the behavior that causes some extremists, and even common citizens, to act so irrationally. Focus has shifted from the behaviors themselves to the psychology behind the actions produced by others. Curiosity and the genuine need to provide help for those with mental conditions continues to grow, creating a stable career field for those interested in psychotherapy.

Training and Educational Requirements

Despite real-life training that provides knowledge for psychotherapists, these professionals must have more training than just experience. Some of the most popular psychotherapy programs include: Professional Counseling, Counseling Psychology, Clinical Psychology, and Human Services with a Counseling focus. All of the aforementioned degrees require at least a four-year degree. However, obtaining a Master’s in these degree areas provides education and knowledge of how to approach and handle clients who differ in conditions, attitudes, and behavior.

Career Benefits

Though psychotherapists undergo extensive training to excel at their profession, most are compensated as an average, middle-class employee. However, the benefits and rewards of this position outweigh the monetary benefits for the majority of these professionals. The ability to create one’s own schedule and set appointments for clients as necessary is beneficial to most. In addition, specialization with certain age groups or disorders is undoubtedly rewarding to those who are the most interested in these patient genres.

Ultimately, the greatest reward for psychotherapists is the patient interaction and ability to make lives easier for those with certain mental conditions. While, in most cases, it is not possible for individuals to be “cured,” focus on maintenance is crucial. Simply helping another human being cope with daily life and enjoy their favorite activities is a reward in itself for those who choose the field of psychotherapy.