Job Title: Psychotherapist
Type of Company: I work for a community-based mental health center and I also have my own psychotherapy practice.
Education: BS, Rehabilitation Counseling, University of Connecticut MSW, Columbia University
Previous Experience: I worked at the B.S. level in a substance abuse program and at an adolescent group home and a family planning clinic.
Job Tasks: In my positions at the community health center and at my psychotherapy practice I see people who are troubled by a problem they need help to solving. For teens the problem could easily be depression or anxiety, anger control, substance abuse, the break-up of a relationship, etc. Adults, too, are either anxious or depressed, breaking up with a spouse, having trouble with a child or have just lost a loved one.
I have special training to help people feel better. I usually meet with someone weekly one-on-one. Sometimes I meet with a couple or a family. I also meet with people who want to be in a group with others who have the same problem, alcoholism, for example, or something basic and human as grief. Most people come to see me because they want to; some are in trouble with the law and are forced to come to see me by a judge.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is that I get to help people feel better, watch as their self-confidence improves and help them to set attainable goals for themselves.
What I don't like is that working with upset people all day can cause me my own stress and fatigue. And I have to make sure I sleep enough, eat well, and generally feel good so that I can concentrate and be helpful. Also, sometimes someone drops out of counseling because it's hard work and that makes me sad; I worry about how that person will ever feel better if they don't work hard at making changes.
Job Tips: All good psychotherapists have had some counseling themselves as adults; it is very important to understand yourself if you are going to help others understand themselves.
Pay for psychotherapists is just so-so. You can make a decent living doing this but you won't get rich. It's work that has come from the heart.
Get some life experience before getting your Masters Degree; work in the field of social work or psychology for awhile to be sure you want to make this kind of commitment to others.
Additional Thoughts: I feel I am lucky to do the work I do. I get to be a part of someone's special time of changing for the better.
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