How to become a therapist?
August 24, 2007 4:13 AM   Subscribe

I've been working in IT all my life. I've been thinking of changing careers and the idea of becoming a therapist occurred to me. So now I'm curious: How does one train to become a therapist? What degrees and certifications would I need to accumulate on the way to becoming one? Are there evening programs in the Chicago area? Thanks for any insight!
posted by rsol44 to Work & Money (3 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
What type of therapist? Psych, Occupational, Physical....?
posted by thebrokedown at 4:40 AM on August 24, 2007

Best answer: If what you meant was therapist for one's psyche, there are several options. However, I highly recommend that you first take an evening course on clinical psych or counseling psych, or even general psych at your local community college. Also do some volunteer work at clinical setting. That way, you'll figure out whether it's the right decision for you. And, it will increase your chances of gaining acceptance at a program, since many are highly competitive.

1) Declare yourself as a life coach. No certification needed, no training needed. It's an unregulated field, though I've seen some internet as well as weekend training workshops here and there.

Rest of the options assume that you already have a B.A., and will cost you money. Some of these schools are very difficult to get into, and will cost a lot of money. You will also need basic undergrad coursework in psychology, as well as some hands-on experience.

2) Get a Masters in Social Work, specializing in clinical social work. Most are 2 year programs, but some you can do in a year. UI Chicago has an MSW program, and I'm pretty sure they have evening classes. UI, since it's a public institituion, may not be cost prohibitive. Internship required before you can sit for the licensure exam.

3) Get a MA in Clinical psychology. Believe there are some programs that are online, which you can do at any time. Try U of Phoenix, Capella, etc. UI Chicago may have a program, or maybe Chicago State. You also have to make sure that it's a program that will allow you to seek an internships and sit for the licensure exam. Usually a 2 year program.

4) Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology. Try the Chicago School of Professional psychology--might have evening classes. It's a doctorate, so plan on investing 4+ years of full time schooling. Plus 1-2 years internship. Very expensive. Average loan debt of students getting out of Psy.D. programs is over $90,000, according to some estimates. Also, internship placement at some programs is under 50%. Since internship experience is a pre-requisite for sitting for the licensure exam, some of these programs have come under criticism, so I'd be very careful, if I were you.

5) Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. UI Chicago has a program. So does Loyola. Statistically speaking, Ph.D. programs in clinical psychology are harder to get into than M.D. programs. I doubt that either has part-time programs. Generally, getting a Ph.D. part time is usuallyl not a good idea. Good news is that they are generally less expensive, and generally don't need to worry about internship placement.
posted by jujube at 5:50 AM on August 24, 2007

Also, think about Community Counseling. In some ways these schools are easier to get into than any master's psych programs.
posted by rlef98 at 11:47 AM on August 24, 2007

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