Career Story: Psychotherapist Specializing In Substance Abuse Problems

Psychotherapist Specializing In Substance Abuse Problems

Job Title: Psychotherapist

Type of Company: In-patient treatment for substance abusers, out-patient treatment for substance use and mental health.

Education: BA, Philosophy, Cornell University •• Masters in Social Work, Hunter College (CUNY)

Previous Experience: I have been in the field since l967 and have worked as a therapist, supervisor and occasionally an administrator in many types of agencies: child therapy clinics, residential treatment centers, hospital units, community clinics, and private practice.

Job Tasks: My basic task is to talk to adults, 18 years old or older, about their problems, helping them to grow and change. I do this for a maximum of 50 minutes a week. These are people with a mental health diagnosis and/or a substance abuse problem, which means, basically, that they have some serious troubles getting on in the world. One way of looking at it is that I help them understand and work to change how they contribute to their problems. They could have serious mental illnesses and a poor understanding of reality, be so depressed that they can hardly get up in the morning, or have an extremely unhappy marriage. These are just some examples; the varieties are endless. I've done other things in the field, but this is my basic work at this time.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: It's great to help people but I also really enjoy the immense variety of human behavior I encounter while doing it. The main work is seldom dull. But it's work too where you have to be extremely honest with people, and I enjoy that kind of blunt communication. The ideas are intellectually stimulating.

But there's a lot of record keeping involved and that I dislike. Also, progress can be slow, with, often, limited results. Nor is the pay especially good. Private practice is more lucrative, but that is not for a beginner. You won't like every client you see and may even occasionally come in contact with people who disgust or scare you.

Job Tips: Do some beginning work in the field (camp counselor, welfare worker, etc.) to see how you like working with people. Hands-on work in whatever educational path you choose is more important that the course work in judging your interests and talents. Look hard for the best supervisor; that is vital. Watch out for burn-out and switch if you feel a particular specialty you've gotten into is not for you.

Additional Thoughts: You have to be comfortable with the fact that this is not an exact science, and that progress can often be hard to see. It's a very special kind of talking and listening, with a lifetime search for an intricate knowledge of the human mind. You need to have a large amount of patience and acceptance. You're not exactly a friend to a client, although it's important to feel the potential in the vast majority of people you work with. And it helps to have a sense of humor.

Popular Schools offering Psychology Programs

quickinfoClick the Visit School Site buttons to go directly to a school's website and learn more about the school and programs it has to offer. School website will open in a new tab. .

Click the Request Info buttons to request more information from a representative at the school

Matching School Ads

Experience an education that helps you realize your potential in a way that fits you best. Request more information about Post University today.

  • Programs: B.A. in Psychology
  • Degrees: Bachelor

Why earn your degree at Grand Canyon University? GCU is a regionally accredited university offering graduate and undergraduate degrees in Business, Nursing, Psychology, Education & more. Apply today!

  • Programs: M.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Forensic Psychology, Graduate Certificate of Completion in GeroPsychology, M.S. Psychology with an Emphasis in Geropsychology, more...
  • Degrees: Master, Certificate

We are committed to helping you achieve your goals and complete your degree as quickly as possible.

  • Programs: AA in Psychology, Bachelor of Science: Psychology: Criminal Psychology, Bachelor of Science: Psychology: Life Coaching, more...
  • Degrees: Associate, Bachelor

Argosy University offers doctoral, master's, and bachelor's degree programs to students through its eight colleges.

  • Programs: Psychology (BA) (Online), Forensic Psychology (MA) (Online)
  • Degrees: Bachelor, Master

As a student at South University, Online Programs, you will receive the same quality instruction, variety of learning options and level of service found at the campus locations.

  • Programs: Psychology (BA)
  • Degrees: Bachelor

Pursue a certificate, master, or doctorate degree in Psychology at The Chicago School for Professional Psychology

  • Programs: Ed.D. Educational Psychology and Technology, M.A. Psychology, Online Ph.D. Applied Behavior Analysis, more...
  • Degrees: Doctorate, Master, Bachelor

100% online degrees from Ashford University

  • Programs: BA in Psychology
  • Degrees: Bachelor

Regent University prepares students with the knowledge to excel and the faith to live with purpose.

  • Programs: Master of Science in General Psychology, Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Psychology, Bachelor of Science in Psychology, more...
  • Degrees: Master, Bachelor, Associate, Doctorate

Pursue your education at Ohio Christian University.

  • Programs: Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
  • Degrees: Bachelor

As one of the first universities dedicated to lifelong learning, John F. Kennedy University offers you a high quality, affordable education that will prepare you to advance your career and community.

  • Programs: Doctor of Psychology - PsyD, Master of Arts in Sport Psychology – Clinical PsyD Dual Degree, Master of Arts in Sport Psychology- MBA Dual Degree, more...
  • Degrees: Doctorate, Master
Matching School Ads

Additional Career Stories for Clinical Psychologists

The inside stories from people actually working in the field.
Click a story title to show the story, and click the title again to hide it.

All Types

You are visiting:

Find a school near you

What are Career Stories?

Career Stories are concise, real-world career overviews written by people relating their personal career experiences and wisdom. They provide invaluable insights and mentoring advice to students and career changers.

Most stories include:

  • a typical day or project
  • tips and advice
  • best and worst parts
  • educational background
  • previous experience

Browse hundreds of Career Stories

More Details On This Career

Please also see our detailed information about Clinical Psychologists, including:

Back to Top