How to Become an Online Therapist

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Wondering what it takes to become an online therapist? Becoming a licensed counselor or therapist begins by getting the proper education in your chosen field. Students who are considering a career in psychology, mental health, social work, and related fields take undergraduate classes in their desired field of study. After completing an undergraduate degree in a mental health-related discipline, the next step for aspiring therapists is to continue their education by earning an advanced degree.

Educational Requirments

In most states, today's licensed counselors and therapists are required to hold a minimum of a master’s degree from an accredited program. Majors and routes of study for professionals considering a career in psychotherapy include general mental health, psychology, social work, and related fields of study.

Aspiring therapists who complete the requirements of an accredited advanced-degree program become eligible to practice what they’ve learned using supervised hands-on practice. Each state has its own requirement for clinical therapy practice hours. Some states require graduate professionals to complete hundreds of hours while others require more stringent practice and up to two thousand hours of hands-on clinical practice.

Hands-On Clinical Experience

After completing the required educational components of your therapy journey, the next steps for most burgeoning therapists is to complete mandatory hands-on-experience and clinical training that includes providing supervised therapy services to clients. In many cases, universities and colleges provide community connections that link practicing therapists with citizens in need in their community. The partnership results in therapy candidates learning and earning their required practice hours while members of the community benefit from affordable mental health care and therapy services using the latest technology and techniques supervised by practicing licensed therapy professionals and educators.

Therapy candidates are assigned to practice therapy in everyday environments alongside licensed professionals in hospitals, clinics, schools, private practices, and government institutions. Students have the benefit of working with seasoned professionals who provide supervision and guidance while candidates begin to conduct independent therapy sessions and apply psychological testing and assessments to determine how to achieve the best outcome for their therapy clients. After completing mandatory in-service practice hours, therapy licensure candidates move on to the next step of officially becoming licensed to practice therapy independently in their state.

State Licensing Requirements

The next step after completing the educational and hands-on component of your therapy journey is to become licensed in your state. After completing the mandatory requirements therapy candidates are eligible to sit for licensure within their state of residence.

Check with your local state licensing board to learn about the rules and regulations required for practicing therapy in your state. In some cases, therapists can practice in more than one state and other special practice guidelines determined by your state licensing agency. Verify the state licensing requirements for therapy candidates in your state of residence to understand what therapy credentials and experience are required to gain licensure in your region.

Decide How You Want to Practice

Once you complete your state licensing requirements, you’re officially ready to begin practicing therapy. By now, most new therapists have decided if they want to go into private practice or join a therapy group. Starting a private therapy practice requires time and dedication as new therapists not only have to manage therapy sessions and records.

New therapists who opt to open a private practice are also responsible for maintaining their practice space which can include office space rental or purchase, administrative tasks including acquiring appropriate business licenses and obeying city ordinances and zoning laws, and business accounting including managing therapy income, business taxes, and payroll taxes if you employ others in your therapy practice.

The alternative to opening a private practice at the beginning of your therapy career is to join a group therapy practice. Group therapy practices often take the guesswork out of managing office space, administrative, and other tasks by charging a membership fee for you to join their practice. Your membership fee is often a percentage of your therapy earnings that gives you access to all of the features and benefits the group practice has to offer.

Many new therapists are also considering the best of both worlds and combining their private practice with group practice benefits by joining online therapy platforms. Leading online therapy platforms like BetterHelp provides new therapists with the opportunity to manage their own practice online without paying thousands of dollars in membership fees.

Therapists on the BetterHelp platform gain access to a full suite of online therapy resources that provide affordable solutions for client session management, administrative services, and accounting all in one platform. The BetterHelp platform currently staffs thousands of online therapists nationwide that provide services to millions of clients worldwide.

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