Being a therapist is very hard and draining work. However it is very rewarding. Below I will highlight some important factors to consider when deciding to become a therapist.
- TIME! I placed this in all caps because time is a very important factor when deciding to become a therapist. Many people think that once they are out of school, they will automatically become a therapist. Combining education (2-3.5 years), and post grad hours (2-3) years, it may take anywhere from 4 to 6 years to become a therapist. So patience is key. Consider if you are willing to put in the time necessary to be in this field.
- Cost. Program costs is an extremely important factor in the field of therapy. Is the program accredited? What type of school is it (brick an mortar, for profit)? For example, where I received my master’s online (Capella), costs more than what it would have, if I would have attended my undergrad university for their master’s program. However, the online program was for-profit, and had more accreditations. So look at the cost of the program and determine if the investment is worth it. Post grad, you have exams, depending on the program. The AAMFTRB exam is $350. Supervision, if you are not working at an agency (who mostly offer free supervision), expect to pay your supervisor anywhere from $50-$175 or more. I will go more into supervision in another post, but keep in mind that supervision is required for at least 2 years, for most post grad therapy degrees. for example, $100 per hour x 200 hours = $20, 000 in supervision costs. Marinate on that.
- The humbling years. Coming out of school, I knew I wanted to work with families. As a practicum student, or post graduate therapist, your options are limited-and sometimes it depends on the state. I worked in community based counseling for internship, and it was draining. It was mostly teens, and that was not my niche, however, I needed the hours. Post grad, I moved, and did not want to go back into community based counseling, and ended up doing the same thing. There is much trauma, and it extremely draining, but it looks amazing on your resume. People often say, if you can work community-based, you can work anywhere. The experience gained is like no other, but it is very humbling, and may not be what you are looking for after school, but will definitely assist you in becoming a more well rounded therapist.
Check back for part II.