therapy session

What does a Therapist do?

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A therapist is a licensed medical professional that evaluates, diagnoses, and treats people with emotional and mental disorders. In treating diagnosed mental disorders and nervous disorders or other emotional issues, they apply family systems theories and psychotherapeutic techniques. It is often used as an umbrella term used for professionals that work in the psychology field. Titles may include licensed counselors, psychoanalyst, or social workers.

Watch a video to learn what a therapist does:

How to Become a Therapist

A therapist usually pursues a master’s degree or doctorate degree in psychology or social work. The curriculum in these programs includes a variety of human developmental, cognitive, emotional, and therapeutic model coursework that can be applied to client-centered treatment. All therapists are required to be licensed and in order to sit for most state’s licensure you must abide by the state’s regulations and requirements. Many require you to complete between 2,000 and 4,000 hours of supervised clinical experience before you can even sit for your license.

Job Description of a Therapist

therapy session

Therapists often confer with professionals to help analyze their client’s problems and coordinate the proper counseling service. They determine if an individual needs additional specialists or services such as psychiatry, legal aid, or medicines. Therapists help their clients cope with mental illness or possibly assist with medication management at times. They assist in behaviors that may be harmful or maladaptive using cognitive-behavioral strategies. They also teach their clients coping mechanisms, altering thinking patterns, stress management techniques, and give non-directive advice. They often times diagnosis and assess individuals for disorders or health conditions within their scope of practice.

A knowledge of psychology, therapy, counseling, philosophy, and theology is needed in this occupation. The knowledge of medicines to be applied to treatment and/or therapy would also be needed. One would require the ability to have both oral comprehension and expression in order to understand others and to be understood. You should apply inductive and deductive reasoning to the job and have solid abilities in problem sensitivity. Therapists primarily work in a private office in settings such as mental health facilities, hospitals, treatment programs, colleges, and a variety of different organizations. They usually work full-time and accommodate clients therefore may work some weekends and evenings.

Therapist Career Video Transcript

Marriage and family therapy is a growing practice in the mental health field. These therapists help diagnose and treat emotional issues for individuals, couples, and families by working with relationships and observing their clients’ interactions. Clients may be individuals who struggle with their family history or current relationships. The birth of a child, divorce, death of a family member, or other life changes can often be triggers for seeking out a marriage and family therapist.

The therapist uses counseling theories and techniques, forms questions to elicit feelings and typical behavior, and develops individualized treatment plans to treat destructive behavior patterns and other personal issues. Parents and couples struggling to make their relationships work also seek out this kind of therapy. The goal is often to help them find better ways to communicate and meet one another’s needs. Through careful follow-up and lots of encouragement, therapists and their patients together gain insights and resolve problems. All therapists must have at least a master’s and often a doctoral degree. Most states license marriage and family therapists, either through state exams, or nationally through the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. Recognizing how fundamental the family experience is to overall health and well-being, these professionals are here to lend an ear and some constructive help.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Marriage and Family Therapists.

National Center for O*NET Development. 21-1013.00. O*NET OnLine.

The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.

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