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Train To Be A Psychotherapist

May 17, 2008
Psychotherapy has many training courses run by universities, colleges and institutions of which you can attend to become a qualified psychotherapist. The variety of training and modalities within psychotherapy can be confusing so it is important to understand what you want to learn and how to go about achieving it.

Firstly, you should examine your reasons for wanting to become a psychotherapist. Your choice to work in psychotherapy may be guided by a desire to help adults or children with issues. You may want to work in the private sector or within the NHS. Perhaps you prefer working on a one-to-one basis or enjoy dealing with group sessions. Whatever your preference there will be a sector within psychotherapy for you to train in that will suit you and your skills.

A psychotherapist works with people, usually over a long period, to help overcome psychological, behavioural and emotional problems. Psychotherapy helps patients to make changes to thinking and behaviour by understanding their thoughts, beliefs and experiences (personal and childhood). Within psychotherapy there are different methods and techniques. The methods you use will depend on the core theoretical model you have been taught. These models are psychodynamic, behavioural, cognitive, humanistic and integrative, person-centred and interpersonal/systemic.

Skills that are required for psychotherapy include empathy, sensitivity and an ability to listen and question. You will also need to be non-judgemental and able to remove your own feelings from those of your client. As a trained psychotherapist your salary will depend on the environment you work in. As an NHS psychotherapist you can expect to earn up to 25k to begin with rising to 60k as a senior practitioner. In the private sector psychotherapy sessions can be charged anywhere from 30 to 75 pounds so your income will reflect your client base and session attendance. Of course as a private psychotherapy practitioner your overheads will be taken into account as you'll need to rent an office and advertise your service.

Psychotherapy is a demanding profession and as such the training is equally demanding. Broadly speaking a psychotherapy training course will take a minimum of four years attending on a part-time basis. Psychotherapists working in the private sector are voluntarily overseen by bodies such as the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) or the British Association of Psychotherapists (BAP). These professional associations also give psychotherapy courses 'accreditation of training'.

For a university, college or institution to gain an accredited psychotherapy course from a professional psychotherapy association they must meet basic eligibility criteria such as: minimum hours of professional practitioner training between staff and students, minimum hours of supervised psychotherapy and a previous record of student graduation in psychotherapy. Joining a course that has been accredited by a professional psychotherapy association ensures your training is carried out in a suitable environment and undertaken by qualified teachers. You may also have the opportunity to join the association as a junior member giving you the opportunity to receive discounts on extra courses and training materials.

Before applying to join a course, it is beneficial to attend an introductory class to help you understand the profession and find out what is expected of you during your period of learning. Many of the psychotherapy associations operate these classes throughout the year or your local university, college or institute may offer something similar. By understanding how psychotherapy developed and what it involves you'll be able to find out if the job is for you.
About the Author
Shaun Parker is a leading psychotherapist in London, with many years of experience in psychotherapy.
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