Duties and responsibilities
A psychotherapist is a psychologist who has specialist training in psychotherapy. Psychotherapists help their clients to explore and express their through processes, feelings and behaviour. A psychotherapist can treat clients with a huge range of problems, such as emotional issues (e.g, anger or grief), mental illness, behavioral issues, eating disorders and addiction. Their typical duties and responsibilities include:
- Conduct a series of sessions with a client that normally last 50 minutes
- Encouraging the client to talk about and explore their feelings, attitudes and behaviours
- Running group sessions with people undergoing therapy in a clinical setting
- Helping clients to develop strategies for coping with issues and for making positive changes to the way they think and behave
- Evaluating the effectiveness of therapy sessions and writing reports on this
- Keeping up to date with any developments in theory and research
- Networking within the health professional community and other potential business areas to maintain continuity of work and client base
Typically, psychotherapists will need a bachelors degree in psychology, or a related field. They will then need to earn a masters degree in psychotherapy. Whilst studying for a masters, aspiring psychotherapists should start accruing clinical experience, which is necessary for licensing (typically, you will need 1500 hours of supervised experience).
Skills and relevant work experience
As well as enough supervised hours, psychotherapists will need skills such as:
- Resilient listening skills, as psychotherapists will spend their days listening to their clients and therefore must be excellent listeners
- Interpersonal skills, as part of the psychotherapy process is building a trusting relationship with clients
- Written communication skills, as psychotherapists will need to keep detailed reports of their clients progress
- Empathy and compassion, as psychotherapists will treat clients who are in great distress and therefore must be understanding and attentive to their needs
- Sensitivity, as clients will want to discuss difficult matters and psychotherapists must be aware of this
- Verbal communication skills, as psychotherapists will need to communicate effectively with their clients and with other healthcare professionals (e.g., psychologists, psychiatrists, physicians)
Many psychotherapist will work full-time, but they can also work part time if they choose. They may set up their own private practice or become self-employed and will therefore often set their own hours. However, they may have to work evenings or weekends to accommodate clients.
According to glassdoor, the average annual salary for psychotherapists in the United States was $63,928 in 2020. At the lower end, psychotherapists earned around $48,000 per year and at the highest end, psychotherapist earned around $83,000 per year.
The importance of mental health will always be recognized, and therefore, there will always be a demand for experienced psychotherapists. The progression for psychotherapist is endless. There are many courses that psychotherapists can take to progress their knowledge in certain areas and become specialists. Furthermore, psychotherapists can easily become self-employed or set up their own practice.