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There are many different types of clinical therapists, each specializing in certain approaches to mental health care treatment. A therapist may help individuals address struggles with mental health issues, relationship problems, substance abuse and more. Regardless of specialty, therapists should have good interpersonal skills and a passion for helping others.
At a base level, the path to becoming a clinical therapist requires at least a master’s degree, with some positions needing a doctorate’s degree. Additionally, each state has its own licensing requirements for practicing therapists.
The demand for clinical therapists remains high, as many communities throughout the United States still lack mental health treatment options. If you are interested in becoming a clinical therapist, the following information provides an overview of education, experience and licensure requirements.
A clinical therapist can work in many different areas — hospitals, mental health treatment facilities, schools, private practices and more. With advances in online technology, therapists can even treat patients remotely through telehealth services.
A clinical therapist’s primary role is to provide mental health treatment. This may include:
and social workers, but there are some differences regarding certification, experience and education.
Psychologists fall under the broad umbrella of “clinical therapists,” but psychologists require an advanced degree in psychology. Many other therapist roles require degrees in counseling. Psychologists are also able to diagnose mental health disorders. They can provide clinical therapy and conduct research.
Clinical therapists have a bit more freedom when deciding which specialty to pursue, as a counseling degree can be used in many roles. For example, a clinical therapist could be a marriage and family therapist, substance abuse counselor or mental health counselor.
To become a clinical therapist, a person must acquire at least a bachelor’s or master’s degree, gain clinical experience and receive state licensure.
A bachelor’s degree is needed to enroll in a graduate program, but the degree does not have to be related to health care. The graduate program should be CACREP-accredited and include supervised clinical experience, such as an internship or practicum.
Depending on the specialty, a person can attend a program for the following:
Therapists can specialize further by taking advanced certification exams, such as those for substance abuse treatment.
In most states, master’s candidates must complete a certain number of clinical experience hours to graduate. In states where our facilities are located, the requirements are as follows:
Each state has its own requirements for licensure. When these requirements are reached, individuals can then take an exam to become licensed. For states where our treatment facilities are located, licensed clinical therapists have at least:
Licenses must be renewed regularly. In states where our facilities are located, renewal schedules are as follows:
As part of the renewal process, therapists also need to take a certain number of continuing education courses. For states where our facilities are located, these requirements include:
The Recovery Village has a number of open positions for clinical therapists, mental health counselors, psychologists and other roles in mental health care. Our highly experienced staff holds over 3,000 professional credentials. Visit our job portal website to see which positions are currently available.
Clinical therapists made a median salary of $46,240 per year in 2019.
Counselors can treat patients online without further credentials. However, many states require the counselor to be licensed in their patient’s state.
No, clinical therapy roles require a master’s degree.
Psychology School Guide. “Clinical Therapist Careers.” Accessed June 11, 2020.
All Psychology Schools. “Differences Between a Therapist and Psychologist.” Accessed June 11, 2020.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors.” April 10, 2020. Accessed June 11, 2020.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Psychologists.” April 10, 2020. Accessed June 11, 2020.
Terry, Christa. “How to Become a Clinical Therapist.” Noodle, February 5, 2020. Accessed June 11, 2020.
Counselor-License. “Counseling Licensure Requirements in New Jersey.” Accessed June 11, 2020.
Counselor-License. “Counseling Licensure Requirements in Florida.” Accessed June 11, 2020.
Counselor-License. “Counseling Licensure Requirements in Ohio.” Accessed June 11, 2020.
Counselor-License. “Counseling Licensure Requirements in Washington.” Accessed June 11, 2020.
Counselor-License. “Counseling Licensure Requirements in Colorado.” Accessed June 11, 2020.