how to become a therapist without a psychology degree

Last Updated on December 23, 2022

You may find it hard to access the right information on the internet, so we are here to help you in the following article, providing the best and updated information on how to become a therapist later in life, how to become a marriage counselor without a degree. Read on to learn more. We at collegelearners .com have all the information that you need about how to be a counselor without a master’s degree. Read on to learn more.

how to become a therapist without a psychology degree

How to Become a Therapist without a Psychology Degree [2022 Guide]

Are you wondering how to become a therapist without a psychology degree? You be may asking this question if you’ve completed a portion of your education, such as an undergraduate degree, and are looking to transition into a new career as a therapist.

Become a Therapist Without a Psychology Degree

Therapists are an important resource for many individuals, couples, and families because they help them navigate stressful, emotional, or traumatic life events and circumstances.

Careers in therapy tend to offer higher than average salaries and positive job growth when compared to many other occupations. It’s even possible to consider becoming a therapist later in life, as the field can be a good fit for older workers.

How to Become a Therapist without a Psychology Degree

Become a Therapist without a Psychology Degree

The path to becoming a therapist without a psychology degree includes several steps. The specific steps may vary depending on the state you’re interested in practicing in and the type of therapist you’re interested in becoming.

Certain therapist roles, such as marriage and family therapists, educational or school therapists, and organizational therapists, may only require you to hold a master’s degree. Other positions, such as clinical psychologists and counseling psychologists, require a PhD or PsyD.

The difference in educational requirements lies in the type of work you’re looking to do and whether you want to work as an unlicensed or licensed therapist.

Here are common steps that need to be taken to become a therapist:

  1. Complete a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. While it may be fitting to complete your undergraduate degree in psychology, it is not necessary in order to become a therapist.
  2. Enroll in a psychology graduate program. It’s at the level of masters and doctoral studies where you need to complete your education in psychology or a similar field in order to become a therapist. The type of graduate degree you need depends on your overall career goals and state licensure requirements.
  3. Gain work experience. To become licensed as a therapist, you will likely need to complete a specific number of supervised clinical work hours. The exact requirement will vary from one state to the next.
  4. Take the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology. The final step to becoming a licensed therapist is to complete and pass the EPPP.

Though you may wonder what masters degree you can get with a bachelors in psychology, you may want to consider that there are many master’s and doctorate programs in psychology that do not require students to have a bachelor’s in psychology. Some of these universities may require you to take bridge courses or certificates to introduce you to key

psychology principles though.

What Qualifications Do You Need to Be a Therapist?

Qualifications to Be a Therapist

Many find that becoming a therapist is a rewarding career goal, but there are a number of skills and qualifications needed to enter and be successful in the profession.

A couple of qualifications that may be required for you to become a therapist are:

  • Master’s or doctoral degree in psychology: The level of education you will need depends on the type of therapy work you’re interested in pursuing.
  • Licensure: Depending on your career goals, you may need to become licensed in order to practice in your state of choice.

There are many skills and traits that can be useful as a therapist as well, including:

  • Empathy
  • Communication skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Ability to set boundaries

how to be a counselor without a master’s degree

How To Become a Counselor Without a Degree

By Indeed Editorial Team

March 15, 2021

For those looking to pursue a career where they can help others, there are a variety of options available that don’t require a degree. Counselors help their clients navigate diverse topics including family relationships, substance abuse, career challenges, stress and anxiety and other areas that affect their health and well-being. By researching more about counseling, and how you can achieve a position without a degree, you can start making important career decisions.

In this article we define what a counselor is, review their roles and responsibilities, list how to become a counselor without a degree and provide additional information about skills, salary expectations and job outlook.

Related: 12 Counseling Career Paths To Consider

What is a counselor?

A counselor is a professional who holds counseling sessions with clients to help them talk-through their life situations. They listen to what their clients have to say, offer advice and instruct them on coping strategies or other methods to use to improve their quality of life. They may also refer clients to medical professionals when they know client needs additional help or guidance.

Related: 9 Types of Counseling Jobs To Consider

What does a counselor do?

Counselors have a variety of job responsibilities to ensure they provide effective services to their clients. Here are some specific examples of their job responsibilities:

  • Meeting with clients throughout the day to conduct counseling sessions
  • Listening to clients to gather information and help them feel heard
  • Referencing the DSM for potential mental conditions that align with a client’s symptoms
  • Taking detailed notes after each appointment to add to their client’s file
  • Referring their clients to advanced specialists in situations that require medical intervention
  • Helping their clients set goals to improve their current situation
  • Following up with clients to schedule additional appointments and ensure their well-being
  • Helping clients develop coping mechanisms or activities they can perform to handle stressful situations
  • Communicating with social workers, medical professionals and their clients’ loved ones about their client’s needs and progress

How to become a counselor without a degree

Some counseling careers require degrees at the bachelor, master or doctorate levels. However, there is a way to work as a counselor without a degree. Review this list of steps to determine what education and professional experiences you need to become a counselor without going to college:

1. Determine which types of counseling you can pursue without a degree

There are a few key areas that allow you to work as a counselor without obtaining a college degree. The most common options include:

  • Peer counselor: A peer counselor uses their personal experiences with mental health, life traumas, or substance abuse to provide guidance to someone currently going through a similar situation.
  • Life skills counselor: Life skills counselors help clients address personal or professional issues and help them develop methods to overcome them. This could include family-related incidents, current work situations and other circumstances.
  • Drug and alcohol counselor: A drug and alcohol counselor works specifically with clients who want to overcome a drug or alcohol addiction. Some states do require a degree, so be sure to check your state guidelines before you pursue a drug and alcohol counselor certification.

2. Research available certification options

There are a variety of colleges, universities and professional institutions that offer certifications online for counselors without degrees. These certifications can range from a few days to a year in length. Another great resource to find certification programs is on your state government’s department of health website.

3. Determine which program meets your needs

After reviewing a few certification program options, determine which one aligns with your schedule, finances and professional goals. This can help you narrow your selection and finalize your decision.

As you complete a certification program, consider working in an entry-level role that requires a high school level education. This may include working as an office assistant or receptionist for a mental health clinic, or working as a home health aide for the elderly or disabled. By gaining one or more professional experiences that relate to your career goals, you can enhance your qualifications for future employment.

5. Apply to entry-level positions

Market your certification and additional professional experiences on your resume and cover letter before applying to entry-level counseling positions through your state government, social services agencies and non-profit organizations.

Beneficial skills for counselors without degrees

For those who want to achieve success in a counseling role without a degree, they should have a variety of beneficial skills. Here are some examples:

  • Self-discipline and motivation: When an individual wants to pursue a career as a counselor without obtaining a degree, they can benefit from having excellent self-discipline and motivation skills. This can help them pursue certification programs and study on their own time.
  • Empathy: Empathy refers to an individual’s ability to visualize the emotions of another person and understand what they’re going through. For counselors, empathy is an important skill as it enables them to connect with their clients and convey to their clients that they care about their well-being.
  • Desire to learn: All counselors should have a desire to learn and enhance their skills. However, for counselors determined to start their career without a degree, having a desire to learn can be a valuable trait that influences their success. This encourages them to complete multiple certification courses and work hard to absorb materials.
  • Networking: Networking refers to the process by which professionals connect with potential employers or coworkers, who can connect them with work opportunities. For prospective counselors without a degree, having good networking skills can enable them to enhance their employment opportunities upon completing a certification program.
  • Flexibility: For counselors without a degree, it’s important to be flexible about the employment opportunities available to them. This allows them to go for opportunities outside of their comfort zone, from which they can expand their qualifications for more advanced opportunities.
  • Interpersonal communication: Interpersonal communication is the process by which an individual can adjust their language or communication tactics to aide someone else’s understanding. It also means being able to connect with people from different backgrounds. Counselors should have excellent interpersonal communication skills in order to connect with a wide variety of clients, regardless of their personalities.
  • Attention to detail: Counselors need to have a strong attention to detail so they can identify changes in their clients’ moods or behaviors. This allows counselors to redirect their conversation and help clients open up more.
  • Compartmentalization: Counselors need to be able to compartmentalize their work from their personal life. This is important, as counselors can encounter client situations that cause them to empathize with one client more than others. By being able to compartmentalize, counselors can ensure their mental health. This also ensures that they provide their undivided attention to other clients throughout their workday.
  • Time management: Because counselors typically have multiple client appointments each day, they need to have good time management skills. This ensures that each client gets the time they need and continues to feel valued.

Related: Counseling Skills: Definitions and Examples

Salary expectations for counselors

The national average salary expectation for counselors is $29,675 per year. Their earnings can vary depending on their level of experience, education level, location of employment and the employer they work for.

Job outlook for counselors

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselor occupations will likely see an increase of 25% between 2019 and 2029. School and career counselor occupations can expect to see an increase of 8% by 2029 and rehabilitation counselor occupations expected to see an increase of 10% by 2029.

All of these things can help you become an effective therapist that is ready to help others.

Common Pathways to Becoming a Therapist

A bachelor’s degree, even one unrelated to psychology, is not enough to become a therapist, but it is the first step in the process.

After earning your bachelor’s degree, you’ll need to pursue additional education in the form of graduate studies. This may include various master’s and doctoral level programs, such as a master’s in counseling, social work, or marriage and family therapy or a PhD in psychology.

Master’s in Counseling

Earning a master’s in counseling

Earning a master’s in counseling can help you become a therapist in several different professional areas, ranging from mental health to education.

While pursuing your master’s in counseling, you may have the option to choose between different specialties. Some options may include clinical mental health counseling, school counseling, substance abuse counseling, and applied behavior analysis.

Common topics for this degree are human growth and development, counseling theories, treatment of psychopathology, principles of psychotherapy, and group therapy practices.

Master of Social Work

Earning a Master of Social Work

Earning a Master of Social Work may not only allow you to break into the field of therapy, but it may also connect you with work in advocacy, policy, and child welfare.

Graduate degree programs in social work commonly require studies in the foundations of social work practice, social environment, human rights and social justice, and social policy analysis. Other common topics of study are psychopathology and clinical social work practices.

As part of your degree, you may choose to focus on child and family, addictions, healthcare, trauma-informed practice, or the military.

Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy

Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy

Earning a master’s in marriage and family therapy can help you play an important part in helping individuals, couples, and families cope with stress, conflict, and difficult life circumstances.

Marriage and family therapy programs typically require courses in couples and family counseling, human sexuality, and crisis and trauma response. Child and adolescent counseling practices and substance abuse are common topics of study as well.

PhD in Psychology or Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Earning a PhD in psychology

Earning a PhD in psychology or a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) can help you become a licensed therapist or psychologist in most states.

These programs typically require intensive coursework in areas such as cognitive behavioral therapy, developmental psychopathy and treatment, and organizational psychology.

Marriage and family psychology, biological bases for behavior, ethical issues in psychology, and approaches to psychotherapy are common topics of study as well. In order to work as a clinical psychologist a license and usually a doctorate-level education are required.

Masters in Psychology Specialty Areas

Masters in Psychology Specialty Areas

While pursuing your master’s in psychology, you may have the option to choose from a number of specialty areas to help craft your education into a more concentrated and focused study plan.

Potential specialty areas include:

  • Applied behavioral analysis: This specialty is focused on understanding developmental disabilities to help individuals and families manage various behaviors and improve the lives of those with different disabilities.
  • Applied psychology: This focus of study is designed to provide an in-depth understanding of principles, methods, and theories in the field of psychology from a research and practical application perspective.
  • Educational psychology: This specialty is designed to provide an understanding of different educational abilities and the psychological factors related to those varying abilities.
  • Health psychology: This specialty focuses on understanding health through biological, social, and psychological lenses.

Available specialty options may vary from one school to the next.

3 Things You Can Do with a Therapy Degree

Marriage and Family Therapist

There are a number of different career paths available for you to pursue with a therap degree. You might pursue a job as a marriage and family therapist, correctional treatment specialist, or substance abuse counselor, to name a few.

1. Marriage and Family Therapist

Marriage and family therapists help individuals, couples, and families work through complex issues. This may include assessing communication issues and developing strategies to improve familial communication.

Marriage and family therapists may also help partners work through stressful life events or help patients understand and manage their mental health issues.

2. Correctional Treatment Specialist

Correctional treatment specialists work closely with forensic populations. These include young offenders, adult offenders, inmates, and those experiencing mental health and substance abuse issues.

In this role, you may support individuals and groups in the rehabilitation process. This might include the assessment of offenders in order to advocate for or against their readiness for parole or release. In some cases, correctional treatment specialists provide counseling support to the families of offenders.

3. Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

Mental Health Counselors

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors help individuals across a range of age groups cope with and manage their specific circumstances.

Their work often includes performing assessments of mental health, substance abuse, or behavioral issues. After assessments are complete, they provide recommendations for managing those issues and potential treatment options.

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