dcsimg

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

quickinfoThese schools offer particularly quick info upon request, and we have written detailed profiles for each (click school names to see the profiles).

Request info from multiple schools, by clicking the Request Info links.

Matching School Ads

You've found Ashford University, where school comes to you. Earn your bachelor's or master's degree online.

  • Programs: BA/Psychology, BA/Cognitive Studies, MA Psychology
  • Degrees: Bachelor, Master

For over 35 years, Keiser University has maintained a practical, hands-on approach to career education to help our students achieve their personal and professional goals. 

  • Programs: PhD in Psychology, PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology
  • Degrees: Doctorate

Earn your graduate degree online with Northcentral University.

  • Programs: Psychology - BA, General Psychology - PhD of Psychology, Health Psychology - PhD of Psychology, more...
  • Degrees: Bachelor, Doctorate

University of Valley Forge was founded in 1939 and is part of an international network of Assemblies of God colleges and universities.

  • Programs: BS in Psychology
  • Degrees: Bachelor

Liberty University provides a world-class education with a solid Christian foundation, equipping men and women with the values, knowledge, and skills essential for success in every aspect of life.

  • Programs: BS in Psychology, AA in Psychology
  • Degrees: Bachelor, Associate

Designed with the needs of working adult students in mind, South University, Online Programs is built on the similar curriculum offered at South University's campus locations. 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
Argosy University
Alameda, Los Angeles, Ontario, Orange, Phoenix, San Diego

Welcome to Argosy University

Argosy University offers doctoral, master's, and bachelor's degree programs to students through its eight colleges:  College of Behavioral Sciences, Graduate School of Business and Management, College of Education,  College of Health Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Creative Arts and Design, College of Clinical Psychology and Western State College of Law at Argosy University as well as certificate programs in many areas.

  • Programs: Psychology (BA) (Online), Psychology (BA), Clinical Psychology (PsyD), more...
  • Degrees: Bachelor, Doctorate, Master

Pursue your education at Ohio Christian University.

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

NU has been educating leaders since 1934 at our campus near Seattle. If you have a dream, we can help make it possible.

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

SPEAK TO AN ADVISOR 1.844.285.6104