Getting Started as a Therapist

When it comes to mental health, finding the right therapist can be difficult. There are many different types of therapists, and each one has its own approach and style.Therapist

Therapist is someone who helps people overcome difficult situations. They help people learn and practice new skills, work through their feelings, face their fears, and develop healthy relationships.

If you have a passion for helping others, you may want to consider a career as a therapist. It’s a challenging yet rewarding position that requires a number of skills, including patience and compassion. Getting started in this field requires a certain amount of education and specialized training, which can take years to complete. In addition, you’ll need to meet all the qualifications for licensure. To begin, it’s important to understand the different types of therapy and how they differ from one another.

There are many different paths to becoming a therapist, depending on which certification you ultimately choose to pursue. Most therapists begin their careers with at least a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field, which can take four or more years to earn. From there, most go on to earn a master’s degree in the specific area of therapy they wish to practice. For example, someone who wants to become a marriage and family therapist will need a master’s degree in counseling psychology or a related field.

Some therapists also choose to continue their education and pursue a doctorate degree in a specific area of the field. While this isn’t necessarily required, it can be helpful to advance your career and provide you with more options. It’s also worth mentioning that a doctorate degree takes a lot longer to obtain than a master’s degree.

Once you’ve completed your degree, it’s time to take the next step and gain supervised clinical experience. This can take up to 3,000 hours, but it varies by certification and state requirements.

In the end, you will need to meet all the qualifications for licensure in the specific field of therapy you wish to practice. Some states require a specific number of supervised hours, while others have additional qualifications such as a minimum master’s degree, professional experience, and specialized training in evidence-based therapies. The best way to determine your eligibility is to contact the appropriate licensing board for your state or region.


There are many different types of therapies, and some therapists have expertise in specialized methods. For example, a therapist may have training in EMDR for trauma or somatic experience for working through past traumas and current anxiety. They might also work within an integrative approach, which looks at all aspects of the human experience to help clients develop healthy thinking and behavior patterns.

The most common type of therapy is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which involves recognizing and challenging dysfunctional thoughts. Therapists who use CBT techniques often help patients overcome stress, anxiety, and negative habits such as smoking or overeating.

Other therapists may use short-term, solution-focused therapy (SFBT), which focuses on how a person’s present circumstances and future goals influence their feelings. This is an effective treatment for workplace, family, or relationship problems. During SFBT sessions, therapists ask questions that encourage clients to focus on what they want to achieve in their lives rather than on negative emotions that are associated with difficult life situations.

A therapist who uses psychodynamic therapy may help clients explore unconscious thought processes and emotions that stem from past personal relationships. During sessions, a client is encouraged to say whatever comes to mind, which can feel awkward at first. This process, called “free association,” can reveal important information to a therapist and help the client understand their emotions.

Alternatively, a therapist may choose to utilize rational-emotive therapy, which is based on the belief that people can change their feelings by changing how they think. Therapists who use this approach emphasize the importance of empathy and unconditional positive regard, which they believe will support a client’s healing journey.

Other therapists may use exposure-based therapies, which are designed to show people that their fears can be managed. During this kind of therapy, the therapist helps patients identify situations or events that trigger strong feelings and create a plan for gradually exposing them to the trigger. This can help change the association between a specific event or situation and fear, anxiety, or safety.


The cost of therapy is one of the primary barriers to access. Many people start a therapy session with the intention of changing their lives, only to end it frustrated and discouraged when they can’t afford the sessions. Fortunately, there are many options to make therapy more affordable and accessible, from online services to sliding-scale payments.

Some therapists believe that those who pay for their service value it more and are more likely to gain from it than those who don’t. However, this belief is not well supported by research. Regardless, a therapist should strive to clearly communicate their fees and the factors that affect them to their clients as soon as possible, preferably in writing.

Using the term “therapist” is not as straightforward as it seems, as there are several different professional titles that may be used for individuals who work with clients: psychotherapist, counselor, and psychiatrist. Ultimately, it comes down to the specifics of each person’s practice and training.

A therapist’s session fee will often depend on a number of factors, such as the cost of living and rent in the area they work; their level of experience and specialized training; and their clientele, built through marketing and networking. In addition, some therapists choose to accept insurance or offer a sliding fee scale that fluctuates based on the client’s income or other considerations.

As a result, the amount that people pay for therapy varies widely across the country and even within cities. Some therapists charge more per session than others due to things like overhead costs and the length of their contracts.

It’s also worth noting that some therapists don’t take insurance at all or only accept certain types of it. This makes it harder to find a therapist who is in-network with your plan, but there are several online directories and therapy matchmaking services that focus on promoting low- or no-cost therapy options. Some of these also include information about therapists who can help you get your insurance reimbursed after you meet your deductible.


Some therapists choose to limit their patient pool to those who can afford to pay out of pocket, while others are willing to accept insurance. If you are looking for a therapist who accepts your insurance, make sure to inquire about their fee structure and whether they have any sliding-scale options for low-income patients. Some therapists also offer telehealth services, which can be an affordable and convenient option for those who need treatment but are unable to meet face-to-face with their therapist.

Liability insurance is an important policy for therapists to carry because it can help cover legal expenses and medical costs if there is ever a lawsuit filed against them by a third party due to property damage or bodily injury. While some therapists may try to avoid these kinds of situations at all costs, it is a reality that many businesses and individuals are sued for things beyond their control from time to time. Having liability insurance for therapists can protect them from unexpected expenses and stress that would otherwise be incurred during a long litigation process.

Health insurance provided by large employers and on the marketplace typically includes coverage for mental health at a level similar to that of physical health. However, fewer than 40% of therapists are in-network with any single health plan, and that can make it difficult to find a therapist who takes your insurance.

When you do find a therapist who accepts your insurance, it is helpful to know what billing codes they use to file claims with your insurer. These 4-digit codes signify a diagnosis, which in turn determines how much your insurance company will reimburse for the session. A therapist should be able to provide you with the correct codes on your first visit, or they will likely ask you to do so during the session itself.

You should also inquire about the therapist’s cancellation policy. Depending on your insurance policy, you may be responsible for paying the full session fee if you cancel at the last minute. This is because most therapists are required to file claims with your insurance company after each session, and you can be subject to a penalty if you do not submit your claim within the allotted time frame.