When your friends are feeling sad, what do you do? Give them a hug, let them talk for hours and be a shoulder for all the tears, even if it takes weeks? Or do you just turn away and hope they’ll stop crying of their own accord?
If your answer was the more caring option and if you can think of nothing better than helping others in a medical job, then maybe it’s time you considered a career as a therapist.
So, what will I actually be doing?
Providing mental health help and support for those that need it, a therapist’s job description is far-reaching. Providing a listening ear might not seem like much of a job, but allowing people to talk and reflect on their feelings and experiences can change their life.
Becoming a trusting figure in the client’s life, you won’t be giving any advice, as your job is to just listen. While you can help people make choices, you won’t be telling them what to do.
You’ll have different daily tasks depending on what you specialise in (if anything) and the things your clients need. Some of the things you may do include:
- Helping clients reflect on issues to help them make positive changes
- Liaising with others (if needed) to help any changes happen
- Referring clients to other therapies
- Setting up a contract to establish what will be covered in the sessions
- Setting up any confidentiality issues
- Encouraging clients to talk
- Keeping records of past sessions
- Spend a maximum of 20 hours per week with a client
You’ll also need to have your own time in the chair, as therapists take part in their own personal therapy…sorry it’s compulsory.
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The nitty gritty
With so many areas of therapy to choose from, you’ll need to think about what sort of issues you want to help people with. From children who’ve had a tough time, couples needing help with their marriage, individuals with speech problems or people over-coming an addiction…..they all need therapy but in very different ways.
You can choose to specialise in a particular therapy or be a general therapist, where you’ll do more basic treatments for a range of issues.
When it comes to working hours, therapist’s have the typical 9-5 ahead of them, although you may need to work the odd evening or weekends if a client requires it.
While you’ll mainly be based in lovely office, occasionally you’ll do home visits, and you may even get to stay at home yourself, as online counselling sessions are starting to become popular.
Looking for a part-time job to fit around your hectic schedule? Then working in therapy can work for you, as not only are part-time and freelance roles available, but voluntary ones too.
Money, money, money
For all the listening and help you give, the salary certainly reflects it. Starting out salaries for newbie therapists are around £19,000- £26,000, although this can vary depending on your location, whether you’re specialising in a particular therapy.
As you grown within the role and gain more experience, you can earn around £30,000-£40,000, especially if you take on supervisory tasks.
Fancy a chance to be your own boss? Private therapists can change around £30-£50 an hour!
See what people are earning in this job
The good points...
Nothing can beat that feeling that you’re making a difference to someone’s life, and being a therapist you’ll see someone get better right in front of you and know you helped them get there.
From a happier relationship to helping someone beat a severe addiction, you’ll be making people happier. If that doesn’t put a smile on your face, nothing will.
...and the bad
Just like going to the doctor, people will often go to therapists if something is wrong or bothering them, so expect to hear some rather unpleasant or upsetting stories as personal problems are never easy.
Is there study involved?
There’s a massive difference between helping your mates get over a break-up and being a therapist, so you’ll need some qualifications under your belt first.
When it comes to must-have qualifications, a pre-entry qualification in counselling is essential. There’s lots of counseling certificates and diplomas you can study, ranging across the different types of therapy, so take your pick! (Just make sure it’s accredited by the British Association for Counseling and Psychotherapy (BACP) first).
You don’t need to be a graduate to study for a counselling certificate, although if you’re after the diploma, you may need a degree or previous counselling certificate to get on the course.
Want to be a therapist but not sure what relevant diplomas/degrees/masters to take? The following will look great on your CV and will teach you some necessary skills:
As with any job, it’s not just about the qualifications; previous experience and the right personality are equally important for getting into this sector.
Need additional qualifications? Find a course at our Learning Zone
OK, I'm interested... But is it really the job for me?
The main trait you’ll need in this job is being a people person. This role involves getting close to a complete stranger and hearing all their deepest, darkest secrets. Gossips and self-obsessed people need not apply basically…
Have the following traits? Then this is your dream job:
- Like to help people
- Patience and sensitivity
- Good listener
- Respectful attitude
- Empathetic and non-judgemental
- Trustworthy (what’s said in therapy, stays in therapy)
- Good observational skills