Whether you’re just beginning your college career or deciding that you need a change in your life, a new career path can be just what you need to feel more fulfilled in life. Therapy can be especially rewarding as you help others equip themselves with the tools they need to overcome their mental health challenges and thrive. But where do you begin? If a career in therapy is your end goal, here are a few tips on how to prepare for the road ahead.
Figure out what interests you most and how you can pursue it.
When you think of the term “therapy” and all that it entails, what comes to mind? Although family therapy may be the first idea to pop up, there are actually several types of therapy that you can choose to specialize in. Just a few examples include applied behavior analysis (ABA), become a positive psychologist, or even going for something that may lie outside of the traditional spectrum like becoming an occupational therapist or physical therapist. Although you can always adjust in the initial stages of your college coursework, it’s important to identify what you truly wish to pursue early on.
After you’ve identified your passion, it’s just a matter of figuring out what comes next. A bachelor’s degree in psychology is necessary, but most careers require a master’s degree as well. For example, let’s imagine that you’ve settled on working with children in a setting like special education or social work. Looking for ABA grad programs will help you plan ahead so that you can get into the right ABA program, get your degree, and begin working in your desired field. With the right certification, licensure, and experience in behavior analysis while working with children who have developmental disabilities or behavioral disorders; you can successfully land the job of your dreams!
Come up with your career goals early on to hit your targets.
A pre-determined career path is never completely set. You will never know what you may encounter as you pursue your master’s or doctoral degree. However, it’s important to come up with some goals so that you’re on track both in regards to your career advancement and your income needs. One of your goals should be learning how to find therapist jobs for full-time work. Although there are often plenty of clinics in your area, understanding what employees are looking for and how you can exceed those expectations will help you land a role with greater ease. For example, having the required hours, a strong understanding of how to apply therapeutic practices in a physical environment, and the drive to learn and provide the best quality of care are all important qualities of the right applicant.
If you’re ambitious, you may even want to start planning ahead for your own private practice. This gives you greater control over your own business and helps you earn even more money in the process. Just make sure that you know exactly how much work and planning goes into private practice before you start looking to establish your own.
Find ways to stand out from your competition as soon as possible.
Every industry has its competitors, and it typically isn’t enough to do the bare minimum required in your role. Instead, find ways to stand out from your competition as you pursue your degree. Whether this means writing your own book, establishing a new way of practicing, or otherwise gaining further accolades, going above and beyond will always benefit you when it comes time to hunt for a job.
No matter what type of therapist you wish to become, it takes a great deal of education and experience to make your dreams come true. Use the guide above to help you plan ahead and prepare for your new career as a mental health therapist!