It is never too late to begin your career again. It doesn’t matter if you discover your true passion ten years after graduation or thirty. Once you know what you want to do with your life, you shouldn’t waste an extra second. Going back to school after spending so much time in the field and in another industry can be a challenge, but it is one that you absolutely must overcome to feel fulfilled in your life working as a therapist.
What is a Therapist?
As you can imagine there are a wide variety of specialisations under the therapist title. Some therapists require doctorates from accredited universities, others only need to obtain a certification. Regardless of your overall goal and specialisation, your goal as a therapist will be to help others overcome problems in their mind and in their lives. This can be a very good career to get into, and incredibly lucrative if you take your practice private. Before you get there, however, you will need to train accordingly.
How Do You Become a Therapist?
Under the NHS there are psychological therapists, cognitive behavioural therapists, guided self-help therapists, counselling, behavioural activation, interpersonal therapy, eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing, and mindful-based cognitive therapy, though there are so much more. You can be a hypnotherapist, a sex therapist, a trauma therapist, a music therapist – the list goes on and on. The reason there are so many is that it can take a lifetime to master one discipline and there is no one-step approach to the human mind.
Know Your Goals
Learning psychology and counselling can help you in a wide variety of circumstances, which is why it is important to know and be honest about your goals. You could become a qualified counsellor and set up your own practice or work with one, you could use counsellor training courses to further your current career, or you could learn the skills just to further your own skillset.
Get the Right Qualifications
Knowing your goals will help you decide which course of action is best for you when it comes to a career as a therapist. You could absolutely train to become a therapist for the sole purpose of helping a family member, for example, but the steps you take for that situation will be different than if you wanted to open up your own practice or to work as a consultant or private specialist.
What to Expect From Your Career
Once you have all the qualifications and experience, you can then start on finding and furthering your career. What you should expect career-wise is:
1. A High Profile Career
Mental health is becoming less stigmatised every year, meaning that more people will be open to accepting professional help for a wide variety of ailments, from insomnia to depression and beyond. What’s more is that counselling courses are not beneficial just for those who wish to work as a counsellor or therapist, but can actually help a variety of people in every industry. Managers and HR personnel, in particular, can use their skills as a therapist or counsellor to bring your team closer together.
2. Your Own Clinic
With the right entrepreneurial spirit and experience, you can easily open up your own practice or clinic. By working from home at the start, you can further minimize costs associated with running a company and can instead start building up your client list and referrals.
You can work on a consultation-based business in a wide variety of different industries. Depending on your speciality you can either be brought in for a diagnosis, or be paid to make house calls for your clients.
What to Expect as a Therapist
Being a therapist is not all sunshine and roses, unfortunately. That is why when you become one, you need to think beyond your career progression or how good it feels to help someone out of a bad situation easily. People go to therapists as a last-resort and because they feel hopeless. That is why all therapists (even physiotherapists) need to prepare for:
A Variety of Mental Illnesses and Tragedies
Tragedies and trauma can cause a mental illness to materialise, however, it is important for you to realise that no patient is the same. Even if you have two parents looking for treatment for their depression, their type of depression and cause of being depressed is most likely completely different.
Anger and Even Violence
People react to their mental illness or physical disability in a variety of different ways. You need to be prepared for the fact that some will respond with anger and could even become violent. Knowing how to calm these patients down and even protect yourself with self-defence strategies could be crucial, depending on your line of work.
Depression and Anxiety
It can take a long time for someone to overcome their depression or anxiety, especially if you are a hypnotherapist or counsellor. It is up to your patient to go through all the different strategies, and you alone cannot take them by the hand and lead them down that journey unless you have the necessary skillset. Work with their other therapists to create a custom approach that uses all of your skills in your patient’s favour.
How to Overcome These Challenges
To overcome these challenges you need to first accept that you are human, and you cannot help everyone easily, immediately, and sometimes at all. You should also have:
Have a System of Close Friends
Having both friends inside and outside of your clinic is an absolute must. We need our friends to help support us and soothe us when a day at work becomes just too stressful. Maintaining these relationships can be difficult when you work full time as a therapist, but you absolutely must prioritize it.
Reach Out for Help When You Need It
Similarly, don’t be afraid to go to a therapist of your own when you need help. Just because you are a therapist to others doesn’t mean you cannot similarly benefit from a consultation.
Counsellor qualifications are incredibly easy to get with the right dedication. You can become fully certified in a few years, and be ready to start your new career with vigour. Just remember to prepare for the steps you will need to take to get these qualifications and to also prepare for life as an actual therapist.