How To Become a Therapist: Requirements, Degrees & Experience

How To Become a Therapist and What Makes a Good One?

If you want to become a therapist but are not sure where to start, you have come to the right place.

While there are several different types of therapists, psychologists, and counselors (distinctions which we will address in this article), the path to each profession is similar.

Every one of these positions (based on our research focused on the U.S.) requires a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field, and in a few cases (particularly counseling positions) that alone is enough to start practicing.

Most of these positions, however, require prospective therapists to also go on to earn their master’s degree in psychology or a related field, at which point they can become licensed and start practicing if they have accrued enough supervised clinical experience.

Earning a Ph.D. or Psy.D. will make prospective therapists more desirable candidates, but it is not necessary to begin practicing.

Before you continue, you might want to check out our digital guidebook, ‘On Becoming a Therapist’ (Fully updated in 2021). This in-depth, step-by-step guide contains all the information you need to make informed decisions about your future while turning your interest in becoming a therapist into meaningful action. Click here to check it out.

Do You Need To Be A Psychologist as a Therapist?

The difference between psychologists, therapists, and counselors is an important one to define, as some people think careers are identical. There can be overlaps, and we generally think of them all as professionals who help people with their problems.

While psychologists can also be therapists, the two careers are not interchangeable. A psychologist has a higher degree than that of a therapist, although many psychologists use their higher credentials to practice therapy.

In general, psychologists have the highest educational requirements and are held to the highest ethical standards, followed by therapists, then counselors (, 2015). Since therapists are regulated at the regional level while psychologists have more standardized career paths, some therapists might be as qualified as psychologists while others might not be.

It might also be easier to find a therapist suited to your needs (for example, marriage and family therapists) than it is to find a psychologist specifically suited to your needs.

As for counselors, there is a wide range of educational requirements and ethical standards for counselors. Some might be licensed and just as qualified as a therapist, while others might be unlicensed or less educated. In order to call oneself a therapist, one must possess either a master’s or a doctoral degree. Some counseling titles require a masters degree, while some do not.

For more information on these distinctions click here.


Education Required to Become a Psychologist

To put it simply, most psychologists have either a Ph.D. in psychology or a Psy.D., otherwise known as a Doctor of Psychology degree (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015). To distinguish between the two, a Ph.D. is completed with research towards a dissertation, while a Psy.D. is based more on clinical work.

While all of these tracks require a bachelor’s degree, some psychologist jobs (such as a school psychologist) can be obtained with a master’s degree without needing a higher degree.

Getting a Ph.D. or Psy.D. usually takes at least five years to complete. During this time there is generally a research or practicum component, and a required number of supervised clinical hours. This is the longest track to practicing as a therapist, but the job prospects are generally the best, as this is the highest credential one can earn.

Some types of psychologists require extra levels of education. For example, school psychologists might require an education specialist degree (Ed.S.) before they can start working in certain schools and includes a supervised internship consisting of over 1,000 hours of work.  (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015).

For more information on how to become a psychologist, have a look at our Positive Psychology Degree article.


Counseling Degree Requirements

Degree requirements for prospective counselors depend on what type of counseling one wants to do. To be a school or career counselor, one usually needs a master’s degree in counseling or a related field, with a specialization in career or school counseling (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015). Many regions also prefer school counselors to have teaching experience before getting licensed.

To become a rehabilitation counselor, one needs a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling or a related field (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015). Some schools offer five-year programs where prospective counselors can earn both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling.

Bachelor’s degrees are necessary for anyone looking to enter a master’s degree program.

To become a substance abuse or behavioral disorder counselor, one usually only needs a bachelor’s degree (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015). A master’s degree, however, can help a prospective counselor find work more easily. A mental health counselor should have a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling or a related field (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015).

Regardless of the type of counselor one wants to be, most regions require additional licensing. This licensing is made up of hours (around 2,000 to 4,000 in some cases) of supervised counseling experience along with passing a test.

For more information on counselors, visit this, this, this or this website.


What Kinds Of Therapists Are There?

child therapist how to become a therapist Since therapists can help a wide variety of people, there are several specializations within the profession.

This includes psychotherapists, behavioral therapists, cognitive-behavioral therapists, interpersonal therapists, mindfulness-based therapists, recreational therapists, child therapists, marriage and family therapists, and occupational therapists.

Many of these therapist positions have similar educational and career paths, but some have specific requirements as well.


How Long Does it Take to Become a Therapist?

In most cases, becoming a therapist will take at least around seven to fifteen years following graduation from high school. Most therapists need a bachelor’s degree (which takes four years to earn on average), and then a master’s degree (which takes about two to three years on average to earn) or a doctoral degree (which takes about five to seven years on average to earn).

Formal education is followed by supervised clinical hours of direct experience before one can become licensed as a therapist. This means that if one already has a bachelor’s degree, it is a matter of four to ten years before they can be licensed as a therapist.

For a more in-depth and practical look at the requirements for training, take a look at The Essential Guide, On Becoming a Therapist.


What Does a Therapist Do?

Fundamentally, therapists help people overcome their problems. These problems can come in a wide variety of forms and can include substance abuse problems, interpersonal problems with family members or coworkers, or behavioral disorders. What a therapist does depends largely on the type of therapist they are.

For example:

  • An occupational therapist helps people with temporary disabilities return to their prior level of functioning, and helps people with permanent disabilities live more independently on a day-to-day basis (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015).

  • A recreational therapist uses recreational activities such as arts and crafts to help people improve their levels of well-being in general (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015).

  • A marriage and family therapist helps couples, families, or individuals resolve interpersonal issues (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015).

  • A behavioral therapist can help people modify their behaviors, and generally works with people with behavioral dysfunctions.

  • A CBT therapist might help someone identify thought patterns that lead to destructive habits in their life and then help change those thought patterns (Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, 2015).

  • Finally, a child therapist can help a child cope with a behavioral or emotional disturbance so that they can develop in a more healthy manner (Miller, 2015).

What a therapist does greatly depends on what type of therapist they are, and what their clinical orientation is. At its base, the job of a therapist generally consists of helping someone improve their levels of wellbeing, improving their functioning in different areas of life, whether emotional, relational, occupational, physical, or mental.


What Makes a Good Therapist?

Some of the qualities that are helpful for therapists to have include (in alphabetical order): analytical skills, communication skills, compassion, flexibility, interpersonal skills, leadership skills, listening skills, observational skills, organization, patience, resourcefulness, speaking skills, and writing skills, to name just a few (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015).

In other words, a therapist needs to be able to communicate effectively with a client to be able to figure out what the client is looking for from a therapy session. This requires patience and listening skills as therapists need to understand what a client’s problem consists of before they can start treating it.

Therapists need to be observant, so they can hear things that are not explicitly stated by the client.

A therapist’s job consists of being able to effectively understand a client’s problem and to develop a treatment plan collaboratively with the client.

This requires therapists to be resourceful and flexible so that they can treat their clients in an individualized way based on what their clients need and are able to do.

Finally, therapists need to be organized so they can keep track of the work they have done with their clients. This record-keeping includes writing skills and speaking skills so that the therapist and the client are always on the same page. This mutual understanding is key to any therapy session.

The Essential Guide, On Becoming a Therapist, dives deeper into the specific, necessary, baseline qualities that therapists must master to help their clients in meaningful ways.


How To Become a Psychotherapist

Psychotherapists help people overcome problems in their lives, whether they are mental or interpersonal (UK Council for Psychotherapy, 2015). For example, a psychotherapist might help someone figure out why they have so much stress or how to deal with an unhealthy relationship with a coworker. Therapy typically follows the format of weekly, hour-long sessions.

To become a psychotherapist, one should first earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field. From there, one can start earning their master’s degree in psychotherapy. While earning their master’s degree, one will start accruing relevant clinical experience necessary for licensing.

In the United Kingdom, for example, one needs a master’s degree in psychotherapy and 450 hours of practice to be registered as a licensed psychotherapist by the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP).

In the US, the requirements to become a psychotherapist typically involve a pre-degree requirement of anywhere from 1000-1500 hours, and then another 1500 hours of supervised experience after obtaining your degree.

Typically, a candidate who has finished their supervised hours will get approval from the licensing board of their region to sit for a standardized clinical licensing exam before they are officially “licensed” to practice. They may practice in the interim before licensure with a conditional license usually containing the title “associate” or “intern” before their credentials.

Once licensed, psychotherapists are mandated to obtain a certain amount of education each year to keep their license and credentialing current and up-to-date.

For more information on psychotherapy certification, visit this website.


How To Become a Behavioral Therapist

Behavioral therapists help people overcome unhealthy behaviors that are self-destructive. Behavioral therapists typically treat people with cognitive disabilities, such as autism, to manage their behaviors, but may also work with people with obsessive-compulsive disorders or substance abuse issues (Falkenstein et al., 2016; Moyers et al., 2016).

Someone who wants to become a behavioral therapist should first earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field. After earning a bachelor’s degree, one can start working as a behavioral disorder counselor. In order to become a licensed behavioral therapist, one must earn their master’s degree in psychology or counseling, and work towards licensure.

Licensing requirements vary by region, and similar to psychotherapy requirements, every state in the United States requires a master’s degree and 2,000 to 4,000 hours of supervised clinical experience for behavioral therapist licensure.

For more information on behavioral therapists, visit this website.


How To Become a CBT Therapist

CBT therapists are similar to behavioral therapists, as they help people overcome destructive behaviors, but CBT therapists ultimately focus on thoughts and thought patterns (Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, 2015).

For example, a CBT therapist might help someone who consistently lashes out at work to figure out which thought patterns are causing them to do so. A CBT therapist would then work with their client to change these thought patterns, so the client stops lashing out at work.

The process of becoming a CBT therapist is almost identical to the process of becoming a psychotherapist, except that one may specialize and obtain extra certification in CBT techniques.

After earning their master’s degree, prospective CBT therapists have two options: they can either become accredited in psychotherapy and start offering CBT programs, or they can specifically become accredited in CBT therapy.

For example, in the United Kingdom, the first option might consist of getting licensed by the UKCP or the British Association for Counseling & Psychotherapy (BACP) as a general psychotherapist.

The second option consists of earning psychotherapist accreditation and then getting specifically accredited as a CBT therapist by the British Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Therapy (BABCT) or the Association for Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (AREBT).

BABCT requires 200 hours of supervised clinical experience on top of the 450 required for UKCP accreditation, to give you an idea.

For more information on CBT therapists, visit this or this website.


How To Become a Recreational Therapist

Recreational therapists help people with mental or physical health issues to improve their levels of well-being (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015). For example, a recreational therapist might help someone living in a nursing home lead a more fulfilling life by playing games or doing activities with them. A recreational therapist might also use sports to teach someone how to be more independent after an accident.

To become a recreational therapist one must earn a bachelor’s degree in recreational therapy or a related field. Many regions do not have specific requirements for recreational therapists. That said, most hospitals and clinical offices prefer to hire certified recreational therapists (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015).

In the United States, the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC) offers a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) certification, which is earned after obtaining a bachelor’s degree in recreational therapy and passing an exam on recreational therapy, although one can earn it by simply passing the exam on top of any other bachelor’s degree.

Further specialty certification can be obtained in areas such as behavioral health or physical rehabilitation, which might help a prospective therapist be a more competitive candidate when searching for a job.

For more information on recreational therapists, visit this website.


How To Become a Child Therapist

Child therapists help children develop in a more healthy way. For example, a child therapist might help a child understand why they cannot focus in school, and figure out ways to help the child focus better in the classroom (Miller, 2015).

Child therapists also help diagnose and treat mental health disorders in children and work with families to support the child.

Like most therapists, the path to becoming a child therapist begins with a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field. From there, one should earn a Master’s degree in child development or clinical psychology, and accrue the requisite number of supervised hours of clinical experience.

This path is again similar to that of a psychotherapist, although one interested in specifically working with children may tailor their training to specialize in techniques like expressive art therapy and child-centered play therapy. One can also go on to earn a Ph.D. or Psy.D. to be a more desirable candidate.

For more information on child therapists, visit this, this or this website.


How To Become a Family Therapist

family therapy how to become a therapist Marriage and family therapists help families and couples overcome interpersonal issues between one another, and also help treat individuals who have mental health issues which affect their familial relationships (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015).

For example, a marriage and family therapist might help a married couple understand why they have been fighting.

A marriage and family therapist might also help a family learn how to better deal with one of their member’s anxiety issues.

To become a marriage and family therapist, one must first earn a bachelor’s degree, ideally in psychology or a similar field. After that, one can enter a master’s program in counseling psychology, marriage and family therapy, or a related field, and earn their supervised clinical hours of experience (American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, 2015).

In the United States, licensing is administered regionally by governing boards—in California, this is the Board of Behavioral Sciences.

For more information on marriage and family therapists, visit this or this website.


How To Become An Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists help people with physical and mental health issues to be more independent (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015). Occupational therapists also “aspire to promote dignity… and an adequate standard of life” for their clients (Crawford et al., 2017). For example, an occupational therapist might help someone who is new to using a wheelchair figure out how to live their day-to-day life in an independent manner.

Occupational therapists also help their client’s family members or caregivers understand how to best help the client in their daily activities.

To become an occupational therapist, one should first earn a bachelor’s degree in a program that includes some coursework in physiology or a related field. After earning a bachelor’s degree, prospective occupational therapists should volunteer or work in an occupational therapist’s office to gain experience (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015).

Prospective occupational therapists are then qualified for a master’s degree in occupational therapy, which is the requisite degree for most jobs. After earning a master’s degree, one needs to complete occupational therapist licensing, which is administered in the United States by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). From there, one should be ready to start looking for work.

For more information on occupational therapists, visit this website.


A Take-Home Message

While the path to becoming a therapist may seem extremely long, it is important to remember that there are actually several paths to becoming a therapist. If one already has a bachelor’s degree in just about any subject, they can start seeking out a master’s program in psychology or therapy.

Earning a Ph.D. increases one’s chances of getting hired, and it is important to note that many Ph.D. programs grant a master’s degree in the middle of the program.

There are also options for people who only have a bachelor’s degree, or can only realistically earn a bachelor’s degree. Without going on to earn a master’s degree, one can still work in certain counseling positions. Some people might be happy working as a counselor, while others may use their experience as a counselor to inform their pursuit of further education and licensure as a therapist.

We would love to hear about your experience gaining work experience in counseling, therapy, or psychology and what your country or state’s requirements for credentialing are.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. To learn from more than 300+ practicing therapists what it takes to create a successful career in therapy, don’t forget to check out The Essential Guide, ‘On Becoming a Therapist’.

  • American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. (2015, December 17). About marriage and family therapists. Retrieved from
  • Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies. (2015, December 17). What is cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)? Retrieved from
  • Bairstow, A. (2016). Couples exploring nonmonogamy: Guidelines for therapists. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy 43(4), 343-353.
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2015, December 17). How to become a mental health counselor or marriage and family therapist. Retrieved from
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2015, December 17). How to become a psychologist. Retrieved from
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2015, December 17). How to become a recreational therapist. Retrieved from
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2015, December 17). How to become a rehabilitation counselor. Retrieved from
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2015, December 17). How to become a school or career counselor. Retrieved from
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2015, December 17). How to become a substance abuse or behavioral disorder counselor. Retrieved from
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2015, December 17). How to become an occupational therapist. Retrieved from
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2015, December 17). What mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists do.Retrieved from
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2015, December 17). What occupational therapists do. Retrieved from
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2015, December 17). What recreational therapists do. Retrieved from
  • (2017). Understanding accreditation of CBT therapists. Retrieved from
  • Crawford, E., Aplin, T., & Rodger, S. (2017). Human rights in occupational therapy education: A step towards a more occupationally just global society. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal 64(2), 129-136.
  • Falkenstein, M. J., Mouton-Odum, S., Mansueto, C. S., Golomb, R. G., & Haaga, D. A. F. (2016). Comprehensive behavioral treatment of trichotillomania: A treatment development study. Behavior Modification 40(3), 414-438.
  • (2015, December 17).Counselor vs. therapist vs. psychologist. Retrieved from
  • Miller, A. (2015, December 17). Requirements for a child therapist. Retrieved from
  • Moyers, T. B., Houck, J., Rice, S. L., Longabaugh, R., & Miller, W. R. (2016). Therapist empathy, combined behavioral intervention, and alcohol outcomes in the COMBINE research project. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 84(3), 221-229.
  • (2015, December 17). Child psychologist. Retrieved from
  • (2015, December 17). Child therapist: Job description, duties and requirements. Retrieved from
  • (2015, December 17). How to become a licensed behavioral therapist. Retrieved from
  • UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP). (2015, December 17). About psychotherapy. Retrieved from

About the Author

Joaquín Selva, Bc.S., Psychologist is a behavioral neuroscience researcher and scientific editor. Joaquín was both a teaching assistant and a research assistant and conducted research that led to the publication of three peer-reviewed papers. Since then, his work has included writing for and working as an English editor for academic papers written by non-native English speakers.


  1. Elen

    Hello 🙂 I’m finishing my bachelor’s degree in psychology in Brazil and I am planning on moving to the U.S once I’m finally done with my bachelor’s and then start the process of becoming a licensed therapist. What would the steps be for me? Will they accept by bachelor’s even if it’s from Brazil? Do you know if the process of becoming licensed is different for those that aren’t citizens? And the most important one: if I move to the U.S, can I work as I pursue higher education until I am able to become licensed? Thank you.

    • Nicole Celestine, Ph.D.

      Hi Elen,

      Congratulations on getting to the end of your degree! To answer your questions, yes most universities should recognize your Bachelor’s. Whether or not you’re admitted to a master’s level psychology/therapy course usually depends less on where your degree was acquired and more about your GPA and performance in your courses. I also wouldn’t expect there to be differences re: the process of becoming accredited once you are in the USA. However, you may be required to take a test to confirm language competency. For more information about visa requirements (and the extent to which they permit you to work while studying), I’d suggest reaching out to the US consulate in your country.

      You will also find more detailed step-by-step information on our guide on becoming a therapist.

      Hope this helps!

      – Nicole | Community Manager

  2. Neha

    I am master in chemistry and Mba and I am working as in pharmaceutical industry

    And I realised how important is mental health

    I have learnt meditation yoga and samadhi and I do it daily

    Now I have raised interest in becoming a psychology therapist for stress management

    Which course is best for me as I understand from your post that I should do masters in psychotherapy after bachelor in psychology

    Could you confirm if I understand correctly

    • Nicole Celestine, Ph.D.

      Hi Neha,

      That’s exciting that you’re interested in becoming a therapist! Yes, it sounds like the next step for you is to pursue a Masters of Psychology. And with your existing qualifications, it’s possible you may be able to commence a Master’s without doing a Bachelor’s of Psychology first, so it’s worth checking with course advisors to see what their entry requirements are.

      There are many reputable programs around the world that will give you this qualification. You’ll find a ranking of these programs here.

      Once you’ve completed that qualification, you may be interested in pursuing accreditation to specialize in a style of therapy that is most of interest to you. This could include a mindfulness-based approach, cognitive-behavioral therapy, or interpersonal psychotherapy just to name a few. You can learn more about these different specializations, and other important information, in our comprehensive guide on becoming a therapist.

      Hope this helps, and best of luck with your studies!

      – Nicole | Community Manager

  3. Daniel Alford

    Hi! I’m very interested in becoming a counselor or therapist. I have my Bachelors in Public Relations and my Masters in Education Administration. I’m obviously comfortable dealing with people and the things that can “set them off”. Would I be able to find a Master’s Program in Counseling or Psychology/Therapy to help me on my way?

    Very Sincerely,

    • Nicole Celestine, Ph.D.

      Hi Daniel,

      That’s exciting that you’re interested in becoming a therapist! It sounds like the next step for you is to pursue a Masters of Psychology (or something similar at this level). There are many reputable programs around the world that will give you this qualification. You’ll find a ranking of these programs here.

      Once you’ve completed that qualification, you may be interested in pursuing accreditation to specialize in a style of therapy that is most of interest to you. This could include a mindfulness-based approach, cognitive-behavioral therapy, or interpersonal psychotherapy just to name a few. You can learn more about different specializations in our newly published guide on becoming a therapist, available here.

      Hope this helps, and best of luck with your studies!

      – Nicole | Community Manager

  4. Susan Agbenoto

    Very helpful article, thank you. I am in a doctorate of ministry program at a seminary and interested in adding counseling as well. A chaplain’s CPE course is offered which I plan to take. Are there any certifications/courses I can take to be a counselor without adding another 5-year course to my doctoral program?

    • Nicole Celestine, Ph.D.

      Hi Susan,

      Unfortunately, the pathways to becoming a therapist involve at least a few years (around three) of fairly intensive coursework and supervised training. I’m aware of some universities that offer ‘combined’ programs that enable psychology graduates to finish their degree as both a registered psychologist and with a PhD, but I’m unsure whether these same blended pathways would be on offer for a doctorate of ministry.

      I’d suggest having a chat with your course advisor to learn more.

      Hope this helps!

      – Nicole | Community Manager

  5. Dr. Dawn

    Thanks! It’s also interesting that in therapy, people also learn to cope with symptoms that may not respond to treatment right away. Research shows that therapy teaches people skills to address symptoms on their own. Stay healthy! 🙂

  6. Crom Rehab

    The American Psychological Association suggests considering therapy when something causes distress and interferes with some part of life. Anxiety, stress, food addiction and whatever are often caused by psychological issues. Although genetics plays a role as well. Stay healthy!

  7. Terren

    Hi there, I have a BS in Engineering and work as a software engineer. Would it be possible to get into a masters program for therapy with an engineering undergraduate degree?

    • Nicole Celestine, Ph.D.

      Hi Terren,

      Thank you for your question. Some universities offer very flexible degree programs that allow you to pursue a Masters degree in a field different from your undergraduate, but it depends on the university and program. Some may require you to do a bridging course or certificate.

      I suspect you will need to get in touch with the course advisors for the program(s) at the universities you are interested in to find out.

      – Nicole | Community Manager

  8. Sierra

    Hey it was a pleasure reading this by the way, So I’m finishing up school and I know that I want to be a therapist, just not the specific one I just want to know were do I exactly start before I start applying for things?

    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi Sierra,

      That’s exciting that you’re interested in becoming a therapist! It sounds like the next step for you is to pursue a Masters of Psychology. There are many reputable programs around the world that will give you this qualification. You’ll find a ranking of these programs here.

      Once you’ve completed that qualification, you may be interested in pursuing accreditation to specialize in a style of therapy that is most of interest to you. This could include a mindfulness-based approach, cognitive-behavioral therapy, or interpersonal psychotherapy just to name a few.

      Hope this helps, and best of luck with your studies!

      – Nicole | Community Manager

  9. Reed

    Hey there! I have an interest in helping preteens/teens/young adults who are depressed or suicidal because of my history so would that be CBT or a child therapist?
    Thank you!

    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi Reed,

      Thank you for your questions. Really, how you package your services as a therapist is up to you. You could train to be a CBT specialist who just happens to work with adults and children, or your specialty could be working with children (and you apply CBT techniques in doing so — you’ll find that CBT techniques can be used with both adults and children).

      Training-wise, you’ll need to go through the same process of doing an MA, PsyD, or PhD, and then you can undergo further certification to specialize based on your interests.

      Hope this helps!

      – Nicole | Community Manager

  10. KP

    Thanks for the detailed article.
    I would like to become a therapist.
    But my bachelor’s is in Engineering and from overseas. I live in AZ, USA. Permanent resident, not citizen.
    I heard there would be a bridge program to compensate for the Bachelors’s, is that right?
    Can you please provide any information on what program should I look for and who offers them?
    I like programs that don’t need GRE.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi KP,

      Glad you liked the article. This is a tricky question (and program entry requirements are actively changing in light of COVID). Here, you will find a list of all the colleges in Arizona that offer psychology programs.

      My suggestion would be to reach out to each of the colleges’ admissions officers, explain your situation and goals, and see what they come back with.

      Hope this helps!

      – Nicole | Community Manager

  11. Glory

    Good evening, i am to recieve my degree in educational psychology this year and i will like to know in which school i can apply so i can become a psychotherapist . In the U.S or the U.K

    I’m Glory from Cameroon

    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi Glory,

      Congratulations on nearing the end of your degree program! It sounds like the next step for you is to pursue a Masters of Psych. There are many reputable programs around the world that will give you this qualification. You’ll find a ranking of these programs here.

      Once you’ve done that, you may be interested in pursuing accreditation to specialize in a psychodynamic approach (i.e., as opposed to CBT and other paradigms) if that is what you are most interested in.

      Hope this helps!

      – Nicole | Community Manager

  12. Giselle

    Thanks for this! I have a question! I am finishing up my associates in nursing to receive my RN. After the psych rotation, I realized that I love psychology and understood how important mental health is. I would love to pursue psychotherapy as a career but I also don’t want to give up nursing just yet. Has anyone heard of or experienced a career change from nursing to therapy? If so how do I go about it? TIA

    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi Giselle,

      Congratulations on discovering your passion! You might find this read interesting, which describes one nurse’s journey from nursing to psychology.

      Best of luck.

      – Nicole | Community Manager

  13. Abimbola Abolaji

    Hi, im currently 18 and looking to be a relationship therapist or family therapist. I am looking to study psychology and counselling at University in the UK with a placement year, but i am aware that counselling/therapy thrives more in the US, i was wondering if studying in America for a year with this course would help me to become a therapist there. Or would i need to take another route if so what would be the route for me to take. If anyone could help me that would be great. I am also looking for a mentor to guide and help me preferably someone who is already a family therapist.

  14. Jason Wright

    I’m 43 and have no education beyond high school. I have always enjoyed helping people in many ways. Ever since I became a step-father to 3, I’ve become increasingly interested in helping people find and overcome their troubles or at least work toward overcoming them. I feel great knowing that someone’s life is better and I helped it be that way.
    I’m looking to switch up everything and pursue becoming a therapist but, it is scary looking at 7+ years before getting to the other side of just the schooling. Also, deciding on a discipline or specialization seems a bit heavy too.
    I think this article may be what gives me that push to start.

  15. Mrinalini Shah

    Hi there, This is super useful! I am 27 and working in an IT company since the past 3 years in the United States. Everyday in this job , rekindles my desire to pursue Counselling Psychology. Given that I am an immigrant, I might not be able to work in the USA. What other countries would you recommend to get my MS in counselling psych?

    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi Mrinalini,

      Glad you found this post useful 🙂 There are lots of accredited Masters of Psych programs around the world that you could do. You can check out the university rankings for psychology here, which may help. My sense is that there are a lot of highly reputable programs in the UK and in Australia, as well as the USA.

      Hope this helps!

      – Nicole | Community Manager

    • Giselle

      I hope you follow through with your goals! I work with a counselor who went back to school and received his CADC and LOVES his work. Good luck to you!

  16. Ally Henderson

    okay well i dont know what to say but i really love to talk about peoples problems .

  17. K

    Very helpful article. Helped me understand about the types of therapists, experience required etc. Thankyou so much.
    This article is missing Expressive Arts Therapy. It might be in a different article on the website.
    Can you help me know how to go about getting a license as Expressive Arts therapist for someone who doesn’t have a degree in Psychology but has been working in the Social sector for almost 3 years + did 4 years of volunteering (Non-profit).
    I read that one needs to be registered by the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association (IEATA) to be an Expressive Arts therapist but the information on that website is quite overwhelming.
    Would really help and appreciate the guidance.

    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi K,

      Glad you enjoyed the post. Thats exciting that you’re interested in becoming an art therapist. We do actually have a post on this topic, which includes a subsection on becoming an art therapist. You can read it here.

      Hope this helps!

      – Nicole | Community Manager

  18. Delila Renee

    I’m currently finishing up high school and I am applying to universities. I’m still very torn on whether I should take BA or BS psychology. I want to be a therapist or a psychologist and work with people with mental health issues such as anxiety disorders and depression etc. I was wondering which would be the better path to take. Thank you for this wonderful and well written article.

    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi Delila,

      Very exciting that you are interested in pursuing psychology and mental health care! I’d say the most critical thing is to ensure that you enroll in a Bachelors degree that meets the pre-requisite requirements to pursue psychology at the graduate level. That’s because you typically must obtain a Masters degree to become a licensed social worker/psychologist. So, I’d recommend finding some Psychology masters programs and checking whether they accept a BA or if a BS specifically in Psychology is required.

      At a minimum, this might help narrow down your options.

      I hope this helps!

      – Nicole | Community Manager

  19. Samantha Urquidi

    I will be completely my bachelors degree of Family Child Science in December. I have always wanted to be a licensed therapist but never understood the steps to take. As of right now I am wanting to go to graduate school just very confused as to what to study. Deciding between dual major in Social Work and Public Heath, major in just Social Work, or in Marriage and Family Therapy. What would be the best route to take?

    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi Samantha,

      Congratulations on nearly completing your Bachelor’s! The majors you choose to pursue in your post-graduate degree should depend largely on your interest and the type of work you would like to do. The areas of social work and public health have a lot of overlap (which you can read about here). Marriage and Family Therapy obviously implies more of a specialization with a particular population.

      I’d suggest having a chat with a course advisor to get a sense of how much flexibility you’ll have once you commence a particular course. It may be the case that you can do a unit in Marriage and Family Therapy to get a taste for it and then transfer without losing time on your degree if it turns out not to be so much to your liking.

      I hope this helps.

      – Nicole | Community Manager

  20. Shailvi

    I am currently 21, pursuing an engineering degree and if I go by what’s conventional I’ll either end up pursuing masters in engineering or MBA. But I always had this inclination towards studying Psychology and becoming a counselor or therapist. So, my question is that can I really change the direction of my career and studies to study Psychology at this crucial stage of my life and how should I do it? And if I wish to pursue Masters in psychology or any of the field mentioned in the article above, do I need a bachelor’s degree in it or any bachelor’s degree will be okay?

    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi Shailvi,

      If you are passionate about becoming a therapist, it’s certainly not too late, and it’s likely you can get the Masters qualification without having completed a Bachelor’s in a related discipline (see this source):

      “Psychotherapy is a post-graduate qualification, but your first degree does not have to be in a related field. The training is more academically rooted and can take around five years or more, leading to at least a masters degree.” often the case that your Bachelor’s does not have to be in a field related to psychology to enter into a relevant Masters program.”

      At 21, it’s certainly not too late to change direction. I know people in their 30s who are just now pivoting their careers 🙂 I hope this helps!

      – Nicole | Community Manager

  21. Kylie

    Thankyou so much for this article it really helped alot! Im actually in the middle of a bachelors degree but its nothing related to this (Im doing business analytics). I would like to be a psychotherapist as a part time job. Is that possible? And do I have to do another degree to do my Masters in psychology? Whats the way i should go about this?

    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi Kylie,

      Glad you found the post helpful. Yes, it is likely you will need to complete a Masters in Psychology (see this source):

      “Psychotherapy is a post-graduate qualification, but your first degree does not have to be in a related field. The training is more academically rooted and can take around five years or more, leading to at least a masters degree.”

      Of course, once you’ve got the qualification, there’s nothing stopping you from working part-time (rather than full-time) as a psychotherapist if that’s what you want to do. 🙂 Hope this helps!

      – Nicole | Community Manager

  22. Eliseo

    I’ve read exhaustively the manuscript and I find it very interesting. In my country, most of the psychotherapists study in private institutions for a period of one or two years, and after, they receive a certificate given by the private institution to practice psychotherapy. I found two problems regarding this kind of training. First, several non-evidence-based psychotherapies are taught, and second, the certification that these institutions provide to students does not have official value. Please, could you provide me information if there are non-academic training (For example, in a private center) for becoming a psychotherapist in the US and UK and How they are regulated?

    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi Eliseo,

      That’s interesting to read about the certification processes available to become a therapist in your country. If the therapies that are not terribly evidence-based, I can understand your concerns.

      In the US and UK, I think you will struggle to find psychotherapy certification programs that are not taught, at least in part, through an academic pathway/university (you can read more here). This is because any training programs must be regulated to ensure that clients are receiving safe and effective treatment.

      Another good article if you’d like to learn more is this one, which highlights that to become a psychotherapist, you must have a post-graduate qualification.

      I hope this helps!

      – Nicole | Community Manager

  23. Denisse

    Hi I’m 18 currently a senior high student. I’ve always wanted to become a nurse when i was a kid. But now, my dreams have changed and i figured out that i want to become a therapist. Your article helps me a lot to know more about my passion. And seriously, i dont have any idea on how to pursue this on my future college days. Maybe you can give me some advice? Anyways, thanks a lot! ♥️

    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi Denisse,

      Congratulations on identifying the career you’d like to pursue! In addition to looking through the resources in this post, I’d suggest taking a look at this article, which will walk you through the steps to becoming a therapist.

      Good luck!

      – Nicole | Community Manager


    I did bachelor’s in physiotherapy but from my own life experiences and interests, i figured out that my true passion is psychology and i want to be a psychotherapist. I am just confused where to start and what steps to take for master’s and to get licensed. Can you please suggest 🙂

    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi Vini,

      Congratulations on discovering your passion! I’d say a first step is to look into the masters programs available at the universities near you (or beyond, given the transition to online learning). Even though your undergraduate degree was in physiotherapy, I think it’s likely there’ll be programs that let you jump over into a different discipline provided you meet the grade requirements, etc. So, be sure to check the various universities’ websites for eligibility. Once you’ve completed the Masters, you can look into specific certification programs to specialize in dynamic psychotherapy.

      Hope this helps!

      – Nicole | Community Manager

  25. Shriya Malu

    I have done my post graduation no where related to psychology or any sort of science. I have helped lots of my friends out of depression there is where it stroked me of being an certified therapist/ psychologist/ counselor. So how can I now become one. Please guide me.
    Thank you.

    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi Shriya,
      That’s lovely of you to support your friends. You can read more about the steps to becoming a therapist here.
      Hope this helps!
      – Nicole | Community Manager

  26. Chris

    I want to be a LPC in the US and found an online program in the UK or Spain for $ in child psychology but I think I need to get a counseling degree 1st right? Plus I’m worried that the degree wont be accredited here in the US. I went on to pretend I was having my foreign degree accredited and I find a whole list of schools abroad. I hope that shows that they have been accredited before
    If you know of anyone who used their degree in the US or know an online counseling degree anywhere in Europe. I am open! A masters here is 96k! 72 £

  27. Christi

    What route would you suggest for a DBT-based therapist? It’s not yet a popular therapy in the UK (the last time I checked I think there were two facilitators in the UK) but it’s a therapy that I have done myself as a client, and would love to provide the same level of support to others.

    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi Christi,
      I would reach out to the APT to find out if they offer online courses or can point you in the right direction, as they specialize in DBT training. 🙂
      Good luck!
      – Nicole | Community Manager

  28. Naila Lj Thomas

    I am looking to become an Emotional Therapist. What is that degree? And what are the steps entailed in acquiring that specific degree. And is there a specific online school for that?

    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi Naila,
      It looks like emotion-focused therapy tends to be undertaken as a specialization (following a post-graduate degree). I’d suggest checking out the ‘Therapist Resources’ tab on the ICEEFT website. IEFT also offer graduate certificates which may be of interest to you. I hope this helps!
      – Nicole | Community Manager

  29. Nico

    Thank you very much for this. I’ve wanted to go back to school in order to work in the field howver of course there were many life-altering events that have taken place since i last went to college. Before finding and reading this article, I can definitely say I was shaken and afraid of the idea of going back to school. I wasn’t sure which way or avenue I should take to get to my end goal of becoming a therapist for the LGBTQ+ community and this article has given me more of a reformed idea of what to do and expect. I can start by receiving my bachelors in psych and then going from there, I would even be able to be a counselor in some places with just my bachelors and that will definitely help me see how close and achievable this can be.

  30. Anupriya

    first of all a huge thanks for clearing the concept of therapist. Secondly,i’m BSN who have discovered her passion as a therapist. idk,where to start but you gave me direction,thanks.
    i would be very thankful if you’ll try to elaborate more about the path of BSN as a therapist.

  31. Lynn

    Hi ! Im only 13 but iv’e always wanted to be a therapist , and after i read this article it gave me so much information on how to become a therapist. I am planning to go and study psychology when im 16 . And i want to thank you for giving me so much information cuse i could really use it when im 16 ?❤

    • Jack Wayne

      Im seventeen & want to do the same thing. i always thought i could still be a thearpist just not a licensed therapist. because i have a friend that always has a issue in her relationships. for example she was telling me today that she was having issues with her boyfriend. thats why i want to help other people out with their problems.

      • Nicole Celestine

        Hi Lynn and Jack,
        We’re so glad to read that you found this article useful (and that it’s inspired thinking about your future professions!) Seeing as you’re both still young, I’d encourage you to consider reaching out to career counsellors in your area to learn more about the different pathways you could take to get into the therapy profession. Different countries have different qualification requirements, and there are different formal roles that involve similar work (e.g., registered psychologists and licensed social workers do similar work but have taken different educational pathways). Good luck!
        – Nicole | Community Manager

    • Samuel. If you wanna talk @NotSwam on insta

      That is very great to hear I hope you become very successful ?

    • Kay

      same here….This has really helped and although I am just 14 this something I wanna study when I am 16 thanks a lot:))

  32. christopher banks

    Hi my name is Todd. First of all let me say thank you, this article was very helpful and informative. The path to becoming a psychology professional has many different turns and twists, variations, and avenues. The way you broke it down is very detailed and provides clear instruction. It is still a complicated and somewhat daunting path, but at least this allows one to see the path ahead and decide which best suits them. I have been chasing my passion for years. After leaving the military in 2000 I was unsure what career I would pursue. Eventually it came clear to me that my fascination with human behavior pointed towards a career in psychology and counseling in some capacity. Since then, I completed my masters in psychology but have yet to take the next step. As time runs out, I cannot allow myself to let opportunity slip away without being true to my passion, and what may very well be my calling. Thank you

  33. Lyndsey

    Thank you for your input pertaining to this field! I am in limbo on where to take my education/profession. I hold a MS in Psych Specializing in Child/Adolescent Development. It is not clinical and I am not licensed. I was a Mental Health Clinician for a year before I started implementing my degree with my first born. It has been almost 7 years now and now it seems you have to be licensed. Do you have any input on what I can do without having to complete an entire new Degree?

  34. emily

    hi i’m a freshman and i really want to pursue a career in therapy but i am still not sure how to get there any help.

  35. L

    I have a question. I’m currently studying at 6th Form ( A-levels, UK), doing art, psychology, and maths. Predicted all A* by teachers but only expecting AAB. If I took an undergraduate course at university, either in psychology or clinical psychology, part of the course at some university includes work experience at an associated institute. If I used those hours as reference, could I get part time work as a counsellor AFTER undergraduate study, while I complete a masters degree in psychology, to work as a therapist? Would the combined hours from work experience in the first course, and part time work during the second, be enough to get a career as a therapist soon after?

  36. Jacqueline Mgimwa Ayo

    Hi! thank you for the most helpful post on how to become a therapist. I have a degree in Social Protection and master degree on Community Economic Development in Tanzania(Africa), I have always been passionate with psychology and i want to become a marriage and family therapist. My question is how do i start my carrier? Can i get some experience while getting a PhD or i need to start with masters degree? Are there best online universities that you can recommend to get my PhD? Thanks.

  37. B.

    Hi! I’m about to finish my Social Science BA at McMaster University and I’m deciding to pursue my original passion that is being a therapist! I can’t believe I tried to bury this passion and do whatever everyone else wanted me to do. But there is still time and a way. I am looking into applying to a counselling program and getting my Master (and maybe a PhD) to be able to open my own practice with my sister one day! GOOD LUCK EVERYONE

    • Donatian

      Hi I might be starting an undergraduate course Psychosocial Studies and Principles of Psychodynamic Counselling BA. From your knowledge a BA will block me in becoming one day a psychotherapist? or it is better to go with a Bsc in psychology (i feel psychology is too much detail)?

  38. Tahire Meryem Cokal

    I am student hoping to graduate high school in 1 and a half year to pursue Phycology, and therapy in the Netherlands. This article was really helpful as no one really tells us how to go about this. Thank you for the information. This article really has enlightened me gave me a clearer view on what path i would like to pursue.
    Any personal experience you believe would be beneficial, feel free to share, i would really like to hear your story

    • Nahed

      What subjects am I supposed to study in university to be a therapist ?

  39. Maida

    Hi! thank you for an interesting post related qualify of become therapist .i have a question i have High school certificate in (accountancy) and i stopped University of two year in( social science management and Develop studies )in Rwanda i didn’t earned Bachelor due to moves abroad in Finland what your advice or guide how can i be qualify as therapist can i start in bachelor of therapy? thanks

  40. Quinton Stephen

    Thank you for your article Mr. Selva. I found it very informative and helpful. I am looking to starting being a therapist now that I have completed my MA in Human Services Counselling: Marriage and Family however, finding my first job as a Counsellor is seeming impossible. I’ve taken up a teaching job until the right opportunity arises but I feel like I’m losing time and experience as a therapist. I’m looking at openings in all parts of the continent at the moment because in my home country South Africa, it’s very difficult to get started on a foreign earned degree. I would appreciate any advice or guidance you may have for me. Sincerely, Quinton

    • Annelé Venter

      Hi Quinton
      Congrats on completing your MA. You are on the right track to think beyond the borders of your home country. Think globally, and even consider online therapy. We will be publishing a few posts on this soon, so keep an eye on the blog. Good luck!

  41. Gladys

    Hi im Gladys 41 years of age, i dont have any degree and i only graduatedt from high school. Over the years I’ve been able to help people solve their problem informally. I’ve realised tgat i actually like to do this professionally, is there still a chance for me to go back to study that long and qualify.

    • yasmin

      there is always a chance !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! its never too late

  42. fars

    i am doing diploma in business administration can i do psychology in bachelors

  43. Gulay

    Thank you for your post. I just want to know a situation clearly. I have a bachelor degree in management (business administration). And I have master degree in psychology. I really want to work in this field so much. What you advice for me? (By the way, i live in Turkey now, but i will come to USA 6 months later)

  44. Al Wr

    Thank you for the clarification,
    Though i do have a quistion if you could answer it,
    I Have a bachelor in Medicine and Surgery, can i work on becoming any of the above mentioned therapists without doing a Bachelor in Psychology ?
    Thak you

  45. Carol Stone

    It really helped when you mentioned how you need to find a counselor you like in order to get the best results from your sessions. I can see that looking for someone you can get along with can allow you to reduce the stress of your situation and have someone you can openly talk to. Visit:

  46. robyn nord

    I am thinking about learning to be some sort of counselor or therapist for individuals going through abuse or self-esteem issues. I have a bachelors degree but it is in education (K-12 Phys Ed and Secondary Science). Can you help with what is required and any direction on how to go about this. I live in a VERY rural in the Upper Penninsula of Michigan. Thanks!

  47. Alpha Ott

    Would you be come a better psychologist if you had therapy yourself?
    Are nyou required to go through therapy to get a degree?

  48. Ridley Fitzgerald

    It’s good to know more about becoming a therapist. That’s something I’ve flirted with for a long time, so this is great to learn. It’s great to know that psychologists have a higher education requirement because I’d rather not go back to school forever!

  49. Scott Adams

    I’m glad that you mentioned therapists needing to be organized to better help their clients. I have been thinking about becoming a therapist after I get my bachelors degree. I can see how it would be good to start practicing organization now. That way, I won’t be losing notes in the future.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *