"Psychology therapist" is a redundant term that typically refers to either a clinical psychologist who principally practices therapy or a person with master’s degree in psychology, who works as a therapist, usually as a marriage and family therapist (MFT) or a licensed professional counselor (LPC). It’s easy to briefly describe what it takes to become a psychology therapist when the term means any of the above.
For the person who would like to become a psychology therapist or clinical psychologist, there is a very straightforward path. The person will almost always have an undergraduate degree in psychology and will then need to earn one of the two doctorate degree in psychology available — the PhD or the Psy.D.
The PhD may or may not have a clinical or therapy-based focus. Students planning to pursue this degree should look for a program with strong emphasis on learning how to do therapy. The Psy.D is thought of as a degree that is targeted toward performing therapy after graduation and licensure.
Those who don’t want to search through numerous degree programs on the road to become a psychology therapist could simply look for Psy.D programs. People should still verify that these programs are most concentrated on preparation to become a therapist. After finishing either PhD or Psy.D, students may need to do supervised internship for a year or more to become licensed psychologists.
If a person would like to become a psychology therapist with only a master’s degree, she can find many master’s programs geared toward counselor or marriage and family therapist training. An undergraduate degree is necessary and some schools will only take people with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. This may be flexible and students who have strong interest in this field and demonstrable knowledge will be competitive in many programs without an undergraduate psychology degree. Common prerequisites when a bachelor’s degree is not in psychology include statistics, abnormal psychology and personality theory.
Upon finishing a master’s degree, those who would like to become a psychology therapist will spend several more years gathering supervised experience in the counseling field. The general recommendation is that candidates for a license have to have about 3000 hours or more of supervision before they can get a license. This can be a challenging time because some people have difficulty finding the hours they need, and pay tends to be very low.
There is one more path to become a psychotherapist but it doesn’t involve studying psychology at the master’s or doctoral level. Instead, people can take a master’s in social work (MSW), get the same amount of experience as MFTs and LPCs in supervised training, and then become licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs). These professionals may also work as therapists.