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What Is a Psychotherapist and How to Become One


What Is a Psychotherapist?

A psychotherapist provides psychological treatment and therapy to mental health patients rather than medication. They commonly help patients with addiction, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and a wide range of other behavioral, emotional, and social issues. Their job duties typically include talking to patients to understand their problems, assessing their emotional state, analyzing patients to ensure issues are handled effectively, developing treatment methods, and observing the patient to record progress. Some psychotherapists utilize techniques such as hypnotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy.

How to Become a Psychotherapist

Qualifications for a career as a psychotherapist typically include a master’s degree or doctorate in clinical psychology, social work, or counseling. People pursuing this career must take the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP), and obtain appropriate licensure in their state. In most cases, you will have to spend time in a clinical residency program under a licensed therapist to gain experience you need to work with patients that have behavioral, emotional, and social issues.

What Makes a Good Psychotherapist?

A good psychotherapist has extensive education in psychology, often including a doctorate in clinical psychology, social work, or counseling. People pursuing this career must obtain appropriate licensure in their state. Experience working in a mental health treatment or therapy center can help you be a successful psychotherapist. Many people in this career spend time in a clinical residency program under a licensed therapist to gain the experience they need to work with patients that have behavioral, emotional, and social issues.

Where Do Psychotherapists Work?

A psychotherapist often operates out of a private practice. Others may work in hospitals, schools, prisons, mental health clinics, and other medical treatment facilities. All psychotherapists spend the majority of their time observing and interacting with their patients, who have a broad range of behavioral, emotional, and social issues. The job duties of a psychotherapist often involve providing counseling or therapy to their patients in a clinical environment.

Can Psychotherapists Prescribe Medication?

Most psychotherapists cannot prescribe medication to their patients. Their job duties are to provide psychological treatment and therapy to mental health patients rather than medication. However, they can and often do refer patients to psychiatrists and other licensed medical doctors with a list of suggested medications and typically work closely with these other mental health professionals on developing further treatment options. Some psychotherapists decide to pursue a career in psychiatry, and once they earn their doctoral degree and obtain a license, they may prescribe medication.

Psychotherapist Job Description Sample

With this Psychotherapist job description sample, you can get a good idea of what employers are looking for when hiring for this position. Remember, every employer is different and each will have unique qualifications when they hire for a Psychotherapist role.

Job Summary

We are looking for a Psychotherapist to help our clients overcome their mental health issues. In this position, you will utilize non-pharmaceutical treatments to help your patients identify, address, and manage their unique challenges. These problems may range from depression to addiction to personality disorders, so you should have experience handling a wide variety of mental health conditions. Our ideal applicant has a doctorate in clinical psychology and state licensure, but we are willing to work with applicants holding a master's degree if they have significant experience. You must be empathetic and have excellent listening and communication skills.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Meet with new patients and assess their mental health state
  • Develop a treatment plan that addresses these issues
  • Meet with patients regularly to assess their progress and provide treatment
  • Keep a record of each patient
  • Attend conferences to stay up-to-date on evolving issues

Requirements and Qualifications

  • Master's degree in clinical psychology (required)
  • Doctorate in clinical psychology (preferred)
  • State licensure to practice psychology
  • Strong listening and communication skills