How To Become A Psychotherapist (FAQs) | 2022

How To Become A Psychotherapist

How To Become A Psychotherapist: Psychotherapy can be a difficult occupation due to its mental and physical demands.

However, psychotherapy remains a top career pathway in the medical field. A career in psychotherapy offers one the privilege of caring for others, which is priceless and a platform to learn something new daily.

This career also provides countless opportunities for professional advancement, and it remains a job in high demand.

The pathway to becoming a psychotherapist is not easy; if you have such career ambitions, read this article to the very end to find out all you need to know about psychotherapy education in the United States.

Who is a Psychotherapist?

A psychotherapist is an individual that treats patients that are suffering from mental illness.

This professional applies several psychological practices to enable patients to change their behavior, become happy again, and overcome any difficulties they face.

Psychotherapists use their professional knowledge to enhance people’s well-being and mental health and suppress or alleviate challenging behaviors, compulsions, and emotions.

These experts also can develop the social and relationship abilities of people.

A psychotherapist may be a psychiatrist, psychologist, or another mental health professional, who has decided to concentrate his or her advanced education in the field of psychotherapy.

Requirements for becoming a psychotherapist in the United States

You can become a psychotherapist in the United States if you satisfy the following conditions:

  • Obtain an undergraduate degree in psychology or an associated field.
  • Accumulate about 1000 – 1500 hours of field experience.
  • Obtain a master’s degree in psychotherapy.
  • Pass the professional clinical licensing exam.
  • Complete an internship at an accredited medical institution.

How long does it take for someone to become a psychotherapist in the United States?

Becoming a psychotherapist in the United States takes a minimum of six years.

While the first 4 years are spent acquiring a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a field related to it, the next 2 years are spent on a master’s degree program in psychotherapy.

During the six years, an aspiring psychotherapist is expected to accumulate over 2500–3000 hours of field experience.

Best Schools to Study Psychotherapy in the United States

Psychotherapy is one of the most advanced career fields in the world. So, to become a psychotherapist, you need to obtain the best education in the field.

Although the United States has several schools that offer master’s degrees in psychotherapy, here are the best American schools for psychotherapy education:

1. Stanford University

Stanford University is one of the top places to study psychotherapy.

The Department of Psychology, one of the first at Stanford, has a long legacy of groundbreaking theoretical research with real-world application. The department has been a top psychology program in the country for decades.

Moreover, the psychology department at Stanford University is known for sustaining a culture of excellence and completing some of the most advanced research in the psychotherapy field that has positively shaped the world.

More so, Stanford University has received widespread praise for its education of psychology students.

As one of the best schools to study Psychotherapy in the United States, there is complete learning program run by experts in the field and there is also a perfect mix of theoretical and practical knowledge.

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2. University of California-Berkeley

University Health Services (UHS) at University of California-Berkeley promotes student and faculty/staff health through leadership, knowledge, and exploration.

Their mission is to create a campus that actively promotes health and well-being for all.

Most of the graduates of this program are currently scholars and researchers in the field of psychotherapy.

The University of California organizes many research activities every semester for psychotherapy students and encourages collaboration between students and faculty members.

This school has several state-of-the-art learning facilities specially dedicated to psychotherapy students.

The University of California-Berkeley is undoubtedly one of the best places to study psychotherapy in the United States of America.

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3. Harvard University

Harvard University offers a comprehensive learning program for psychotherapy students focusing on research and development.

Psychotherapy students at Harvard are exposed to modern facilities and state-of-the-art research centers like the Centre for Brain Science.

Moreover, psychotherapy students at Harvard are coached by highly distinguished professors and field experts.

This school has a very low student-to-faculty ratio, enhancing communication and collaboration between students and teachers.

Harvard University’s strong alumni community supports the school with internship spots in high-ranking industries. This school is one of the best places to study psychotherapy in the United States to become a psychotherapist.

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4. The University of California-Los Angeles

The University of California-Los Angeles is a top-class school for psychotherapy education. This school exposes students to a personalized learning curriculum that enhances their knowledge.

The UCLA Psychology Clinic allows students to derive many hours of practical experience needed for licensure. They also provide individualized, scientifically supported therapy for clients.

UCLA teaches cognitive-behavioral therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, time-limited dynamic therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, interpersonal therapy, exposure, and other behavioral therapies.

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5. Princeton University

The psychology department at Princeton University is one of the best places to study psychotherapy.

There are several areas of concentration that students are exposed to, like behavioral economics, cognitive neuroscience, and developmental psychology.

Several world-class learning laboratories have been established in this school. These laboratories constantly complete advanced research studies in psychology.

Princeton University is home to the Princeton Neuroscience Institute (PNI). The program offers specialization in diverse areas, including behavioral economics, cognitive neuroscience, developmental psychology, language, learning and memory, perception and cognition, the psychology of inequality, social neuroscience, social psychology, and systems neuroscience.

This center houses several high-tech technologies currently used in the field of psychotherapy. More so, Princeton is one of the best schools to study psychotherapy in the United States to become a psychotherapist.

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6. Columbia University 

The Columbia Psychoanalytic Center has made the study and teaching of psychotherapy an important part of their academic work.

The psychology department at Columbia is one of the oldest and most important in the U.S. It consistently ranks among the best programs because its faculty and alumni are known all over the world.

You can obtain psychotherapy education at Columbia University via the school’s psychological counseling department.

This department is committed to the development of psychotherapists that can execute their responsibilities very well.

On the other hand, the Master of Education (Ed.M.) program at Columbia University equips students with the skills they need to acquire their professional license.

Students in this program can either complete their studies via the traditional classroom settings or an online learning system.

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7. University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill is another top school to study psychotherapy.

This university offers a Ph.D. program in Psychology that prepares students to be dynamic top-tier contributors to research, teaching, and public and professional service in the community.

Psychotherapy students at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill are exposed to in-depth practical knowledge of the field.

As one of the best schools to study Psychotherapy in the United States, the faculty members handling this program are dedicated to providing students with the best learning experience in research, teaching, mentoring, and service.

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8. The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA

The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA, is a leading psychotherapist school.

Psychotherapy students at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA, are exposed to advanced practical knowledge of the field due to research centers like the Centre for Psychotherapy Research.

Students also obtain enough hands-on experience by engaging in Pennsylvania Hospital rotations in the acute psychiatric unit, general medical hospital, palliative care cancer center, or community mental health.

On the other hand, the Counseling and Mental Health Services master’s program at Penn in Philadelphia, PA prepares students for careers in psychology, mental health counseling, school counseling, and/or related research.

The degree prepares candidates for Penn GSE’s Professional Counseling program or another PhD program.

How to excel in Psychotherapy Classes

Psychotherapy is a rigorous field of study. However, you can excel in a psychotherapy program by applying the following tips:

1. Begin With the Basics

Before you start reading any study material, ensure that you have a good understanding of the foundations of the lesson.

Moreover, make sure that you read the study material before the class. You will understand better if you already know some of what is being taught in class. You will also be able to ask questions in class.

2. Concentrate on establishing effective study practices

Although having an in-depth understanding of the course material is important, ensure that you create time to establish study practices and exam-writing techniques that bring about academic excellence.

If reading at night works best for you, ensure that you follow daily schedules that will allow you to sleep well during the day and stay up to read.

On the other hand, if you prefer to study during the day, ensure enough rest at night to energize you for long study hours.

3. Improve your writing skills

Having good writing abilities is essential for academic excellence as far as psychotherapy education is concerned.

Thus, master the skill of writing case studies, lab reports, and lengthy essays, as you will be required to do so in any psychotherapy school.

Frequently Asked Questions on How To Become A Psychotherapist

What is the role of the psychotherapist?

A psychotherapist is a mental health professional who specializes in using talk therapy to help those dealing with emotional distress or mental illness. Psychotherapists might be doctors of medicine, psychologists, counselors, social workers, or any combination of these fields. They are flexible enough to help everyone from a single person to an entire family.

Is psychotherapist the same as psychologist?

Professionals in the field of mental health who have completed post-graduate training in talk therapy are known as psychotherapists. Those who aid others in overcoming emotional hurdles like stress and anxiety fall under this umbrella category. Psychologists, psychoanalysts, and even some psychiatrists do psychotherapy.

Why do therapists stay silent?

Silence was mostly used by therapists to promote introspection, inspire personal accountability, open up emotional expression, keep the session flowing, and demonstrate empathy. During periods of quiet, therapists can focus on the client, reflect on the session, and show genuine attention.

How often should you go to therapy?

When first beginning therapy, a weekly session is an excellent starting point. Most patients will begin with this schedule and adjust it as necessary. Anyone looking to improve abilities like mindfulness, coping, and communication might benefit from meeting once a week.


Psychotherapy is one of the best medical fields in the world. It offers one the opportunity of making lots of money while simultaneously creating an impact on people’s lives, which is priceless.

To become a psychotherapist, one must attend a psychotherapy school, and the above schools are the best places to study psychotherapy in the United States.

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