The average psychotherapist holds a Master's degree in psychology or another related field of graduate studies such as social work or counseling. Psychotherapists get training in communication and interpersonal skills, mental health diagnoses, theories and practice of counseling, ethical standards, multiculturalism, and more. After graduating, clinicians have to pass an exam to become licensed with their state boards, and then practice therapy under supervision for a time before they can qualify for independent licensure.
Some counseling approaches focus more on problem-solving and teaching new skills to cope with negative events. Psychotherapists cannot prescribe medication but may have a relationship with another professional such as a licensed psychiatrist to who they can refer patients and who can prescribe medication if it is needed. It is important to consult with a primary care physician if you have any concerns or questions about medications.
You don't have to have concerns that are severe enough for a clinical mental health diagnosis to seek psychotherapy, although therapists help people manage serious symptoms and conditions as well. Counselors and social workers understand that there are times when daily issues from mental health troubles are perhaps overwhelming, and you need support from a professional for a short time. Psychotherapists listen without judgment. Therapy is intended for giving you the tools to deal with these problems and get people back to focusing on their goals for the present and future.
People seek help for many reasons. Some come to get support through a difficult life event. You may consider psychotherapy if you have overwhelming negative feelings, especially if you find them making your normal life harder (such as in areas of work, school, relationships, activities). Some people feel very limited by mental health symptoms or have considered hurting themselves. It is important to seek treatment if this is the case.
Sessions for psychotherapy can be either group, individual, or family-based and last between 30 minutes to 50 minutes, sometimes longer for groups. They usually only include one therapist who works to build trust with the patient (usually during individual sessions) You may have individual therapy, or group therapy, or a combination of both as well as homework assignments. The sessions themselves will depend on the type of psychotherapy that you're working with as the range is huge.
Psychotherapy, like "psychotherapist", is an umbrella term used to cover a variety of techniques used to treat psychiatric issues and mental health problems.
One effective and common type of psychotherapy is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. In this modality, clients are helped to identify the relationships between thoughts and feelings and how those impact their actions.
Other types of psychotherapy include mindfulness techniques and relaxation, biofeedback, motivational enhancement therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and interactive group therapy. These are only a few. Many psychotherapists will specialize in one or two different types of therapy depending on their practice. For example, a family counselor may be particularly experienced in interactive group therapy. Your psychotherapist might even have one of the less common specializations like a focus on the positive that includes improv comedy scenes and interactive techniques to make you laugh.
It is less common in the era of managed care for psychiatrists to have received in-depth training in psychotherapy and to practice therapy along with medical treatment (medication) for psychiatric conditions. Some psychiatrists still provide both types of services. These days, more psychiatrists focus on the biology behind mental illness and prescribe medication or other medical interventions to treat them.
Finding a psychotherapist in your area can be challenging, depending on how many therapists are in your area and where they practice. Some websites offer directories of local therapists, and you can browse their skills and training to find someone who is right for you.
You'll also need to understand the cost of getting therapy. Many therapists work on a sliding (income-based) scale or payment plans for your insurance. A therapist must usually be licensed to accept any form of insurance payments. When you're ready to set your appointment, your first meeting will usually be about getting to know each other and creating a rapport with your therapist. You can also ask them questions before setting an appointment such as whether they are licensed, whether they can prescribe medication, and how much experience they have working with patients like yourself.
There are online counseling platforms such as BetterHelp.com that provide access to licensed mental health professionals at your convenience, so there has never been a better time to take the first step to get support.
Below are just a few testimonials from people who’ve used BetterHelp:
“Jo-Ann has been an absolutely amazing counsellor in every way! From the first session on, I felt completely comfortable to talk to her about everything and always felt heard, understood and well advised in everything. She has really helped me learn how to handle my depression and other issues in life better through listening, talking things through and equipping me with practical and applicable tools that I could use for the specific situations and issues. She has continually cheered me up, made me feel like she believes in me and has been so kind and caring, while not shying away from the more difficult questions, really getting me to look at things closer and discover the roots of my problems. I am incredibly grateful for having her as my counsellor and can wholeheartedly recommend her!”
“I have been so thankful for the journey with Stephanie. Stephanie has been fantastic and would highly recommend engaging with her especially if you are someone who is new to counseling and/or slightly skeptical of counselling! My perception has completely altered and I am so thankful for the positive thought provoking sessions. At times it was challenging but in a great way to stimulate growth and I have always felt safe and trusting. Stephanie has been patient, allowing me to grow and change my mindset in regards to allowing counselling to be a positive experience with a focus on growth and self care. Thank you so much Stephanie!!”
What Is The Difference Between A Psychologist And A Therapist?
Psychologists and psychotherapists can both provide mental health counseling in the form of talk therapy. However, the requirements are different, and the psychologist can do some things that other psychotherapists cannot. First, psychologists must have a Ph.D. or a Psy.D. in psychology, while psychotherapists can have other degrees, such as a master’s degree in psychology or social work.
Second, psychologists have qualifications that allow them to do special work in psychology. For example, they can perform psychological testing and conduct psychology research. Some psychologists are specifically trained to do talk therapy, and these psychologists typically have a Psy.D. degree.
What Exactly Do They Do?
A psychotherapist performs mental health counseling. First, they form a therapeutic relationship with their client, building trust and confidence. They work together with their client to create goals for therapy, plan for therapy sessions, provide talk therapy that addresses their needs, and keep track of how things are going in therapy.
Psychotherapists may take many different approaches to help you resolve your mental health problems. A psychotherapist may use a combination of psychological approaches, depending on their specialization, your preferences, and what methodologies might work best to address your needs.
Some of the types of approaches they might use include:
A psychotherapist sees their patients regularly, often one or two times a week. A psychotherapist treats people from all walks of life, income levels, ages, races, careers, locations, abilities, and circumstances. Whether you have depression, anxiety, or simply need some emotional support, a psychotherapist can help you.
While a psychotherapist can help you talk through many mental health issues, teach you coping skills, and provide many types of treatment for mental disorders, you will need to find a psychiatrist if you need psychiatric medications or certain other types of treatments.
Can They Diagnose?
Yes, a licensed psychotherapist can make mental health diagnoses. Diagnosing mental illness is a part of their training and included in their licensing exams. A psychotherapist can diagnose mental health problems that range from eating disorders to depression and many more besides. If you feel more comfortable with someone who has the most extensive training in diagnosis, you might want to find a psychiatrist or psychologist.
What Is Their Average Salary?
The average salary for a psychotherapist in the U.S. is $85,340 per year. Many factors affect this number, including years of experience, geographic region, type of licenses, and certifications. For example, a psychotherapist with a certification in EMDR makes more than average, and one qualified in licensed social work makes more than the average.
What Qualifications Do You Need?
As of 2018, every state in the U.S. requires an advanced degree to be a psychotherapist. This can be a master’s or Ph.D. in clinical psychology, clinical social work, or counseling. After achieving their degree, they must complete two years of supervised practice in a clinical setting. Finally, they must take a licensing exam that tests their knowledge of psychotherapy techniques and other facets of psychology. They must obtain a state license and may be required to do continuing education to keep it, depending on the state. A psychotherapist may also get special certifications for various modalities, such as expressive therapy using creative arts, hypnotherapy, or EMDR.
Why Would Someone See A Therapist?
Many people choose to see a psychotherapist because they feel overwhelmed by life. They recognize that the difficulties they’re having may be at least partly caused by mental health issues. They might also want the emotional support, compassion, and objectivity they can experience in a therapeutic setting.
Sometimes, people see a psychotherapist to manage and live with mental disorders. Psychotherapists, including licensed social workers, counselors, or other mental health professionals, offer help with many disorders as well as any difficulties you might face in dealing with life’s problems. Some things you might address in therapy include:
Since most psychiatrists don’t offer psychotherapy, you may need to find a psychiatrist to work with your psychotherapist. With the psychiatrist providing medications and the psychotherapist helping you work out your mental health problems through talk, together they can provide you with the full range of treatments you might need.
Does Psychotherapy Really Work?
Hundreds of studies have been done on the effectiveness of psychotherapists. Psychotherapy has been shown to help people improve their lives by making positive changes in their thoughts and behaviors. The American Psychological Association cites reviews that show 75% of people who start psychotherapy benefit from it in some way.
How well psychotherapy works for you as an individual may depend on several factors, including:
The decision to go see a psychotherapist may not be an easy one for you. However, if you need help dealing with a mental disorder or even just the stresses of everyday life, seeing a psychotherapist may be the first step towards improving your mental health. If you’re not comfortable yet with traditional face-to-face therapy, you may want to consider online therapy and counseling.
Online psychotherapy is just as effective, and even more accessible, than traditional therapy. A study published in Behavioral Research and Therapy found that internet-delivered therapy for anxiety disorders was more cost-effective and just as helpful as in-person therapy. Participants were introduced to a trial program after being referred by their primary care physician. The program consisted of individually-assigned modules that were guided by online therapists. Participants reported significant reductions in therapy costs, as well as improvement of symptoms, after a one-year follow-up.
As mentioned above, online therapy is effective and accessible. Platforms such as BetterHelp offer different cost models depending on your situation. There is also financial aid available, so you can seek the care you need without paying as much as you would in traditional therapy. This does not mean that online therapy is low quality. All online therapists are therapists first and foremost with advanced degrees, licensures, and training. You can reach out to online therapists knowing they are uniquely educated, trained, and licensed to help you work through your concerns.