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EducationWhich psychotherapist career path is right for me?

Which psychotherapist career path is right for me?

Becoming a psychotherapist is an extremely rewarding endeavour. Psychotherapy, or talk therapy as it’s commonly known, can help individuals improve their emotional and psychological wellbeing and create positive changes in their brain and body; tackling the ways in which they deal with their emotions and prevent unhealthy behaviours.

However, it’s also a profession that comes with significant challenges: the emotional burnout from demanding clients and gruelling hours, financial demands that have the potential to strain your personal life, and even the risk of clients making a compensation claim against you for malpractice, threatening your livelihood.

To protect yourself, ensure proper training and insurance coverage for you and your staff. As the experts at Salon Gold explain, “While your advice may be well-intentioned and come from years of experience, your client may not always feel the same way, and they could allege you’ve actually made their condition worse.” Investing in psychotherapy insurance offers a safeguard for your business and clients. It protects from financial losses otherwise unavoidable in a worst-case scenario.

That’s why picking the right career path within the profession is so important — although the role of a psychotherapist can be incredibly rewarding, navigating through its challenges can significantly impact one’s mental well-being. If you’re considering pursuing psychotherapy as a career there are various career paths to consider. From Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) to Holistic, this article will assist you in choosing the psychotherapy profession right for you.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)

CBT is regarded as the gold standard for treating a variety of mental health conditions, most commonly depression or anxiety. It’s based on the concept that a person’s thoughts, feelings and physical sensations and actions are interconnected. By helping someone to deal with their overwhelming problems in smaller parts, CBT aims to end the negative cycle of thoughts and feelings of those suffering with their mental health experience. It combines cognitive therapy (examining the thoughts of an individual) with behaviour therapy (examining the learned patterns and behaviours of a person), and, for that reason, can be used to treat a host of mental health problems. If you’re someone who is interested in treating individuals from this dual mind-action perspective, CBT therapy may be the psychotherapy career path for you.

BACP, the lead organisation for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in the UK and Ireland, states that to train in CBT you’ll need a background working in health or social care and a degree — or equivalent level of academic achievement. If you currently possess these requirements, you can begin your CBT career journey by taking an accredited training course, which is often the equivalent of a postgraduate certificate, postgraduate diploma or Master’s degree.

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)

DBT is an evidence-based therapy derived from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. While it has similarities with CBT, Dialectical Behavior Therapy was originally developed for those suffering with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Mind, the UK-based mental health charity, states that DBT is specially adapted for people who feel emotions very intensely. As well as BPD, it can help with individuals struggling with issues such as self-harm, suicidal thoughts and attempts, depression and addiction problems. If you’re interested in helping those dealing with severe mental health problems, it may be worth considering a career in DBT.

To pursue a career in DBT, you’ll need prior experience, a relevant degree and further intensive training. British Isles DBT Training offers a one-day taster workshop designed to give an overview of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy — this might be worth exploring before you continue your DBT journey.

Humanistic Therapy

In the mid-20th century, humanistic psychology gained popularity in opposition to the two mainstream psychological trends of the time — behaviourism and psychoanalysis. Humanistic psychology postulates that individuals can realise their full potential when they reach self-actualisation. Humanistic therapy grew from this psychological perspective, and is an approach that centres the potential for growth rather than emphasising a set of symptoms or a diagnosis. Humanistic therapy isn’t dependent on an individual’s mental health disorder or illness, but  focuses on helping someone develop a strong sense of self and find purpose and meaning in their life.

To become a qualified humanistic psychotherapist, you’ll need training and accreditation from a UKCP approved organisation. You can find a list of institutes and schools where you’ll be able to access this sort of training on their website.

Psychoanalytic Therapy

Psychoanalytic therapy is rooted in the idea that each individual is motivated by unconscious desires, thoughts, emotions and memories. It aims to bring deeply buried thoughts and feelings to the conscious mind so that repressed experiences (often from childhood) can be examined. This form of therapy is based on Freud’s theories of psychoanalysis, which theorise that individuals can only deal with their conflicts when unconscious thoughts are brought to the forefront. He argued that if this is not done, buried conflict will cause neurosis and internal strife.

The British Institute of Psychoanalysis states that while you will need an undergraduate degree to apply for their training course, they welcome applications from people of all ages and backgrounds. They train those who are near the beginning of their careers and also those who are changing professional direction. The training is best suited to those who are curious about “their own and others’ internal lives, and the unconscious mind”.  If you possess these traits and enjoy intellectual challenges and complex ideas, it might be worth pursuing a career in psychoanalytic therapy.

Holistic Therapy

Also known as integrative therapy, holistic therapy utilises multiple psychological approaches. Enabling a more individualised approach to treatment, it tends to focus on the relationship an individual has between their mind and body, in an attempt to address the issues in “one aspect of a person can lead to concerns in other areas”. It can include a combination of cognitive, behavioural, psychodynamic and humanistic techniques.

Holistic therapy focuses much more on the relationship between the client and the psychotherapist compared to other theoretical approaches. This means that most training programmes for this discipline emphasise experience over theory, and you’ll have to participate in personal therapy. You’ll also be expected to complete a minimum of 100 clinical hours — and for UKCP or BACP accreditation, you’ll be required to complete 450 clinical hours in total.

Sam Allcock
Sam Allcock
With over 20 years of experience in the field SEO and digital marketing, Sam Allcock is a highly regarded entrepreneur. He is based in Cheshire but has an interest in all things going on in the North West and enjoys contributing local news to the site.
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