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Healthcare: Psychological Therapy

What's psychological therapy all about?

This area of work is all about helping people. If you’re looking for a career that gives you the opportunity to really make a difference to people’s lives, psychological therapy provides a great opportunity to do so.

Broadly speaking, you will be assisting patients with their problems, talking through their situation and providing advice. Although it can be hugely rewarding, a career in psychological therapy can be incredibly demanding, especially given the emotional stress that many of your patients may be experiencing.

What does psychological therapy involve?

Psychology is a massive area of work. Many people experience psychological problems and require assistance. Patients can be literally anyone: an athlete, an employee, a housewife or a struggling student in primary school.

The most prominent areas of psychology that offer opportunities for career progression are:

Although you can work in a wide variety of fields, the overall aim of psychological therapy will not change greatly between different specialisms. The number one responsibility always remains the same, i.e. to help your patients reduce their stress and anxiety levels.

You could be required to help people with a wide variety of psychological problems. People’s problems can vary dramatically; therefore, you might use different forms of therapy to help different people. Psychoanalysis, group psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, expressive, narrative and interpersonal psychotherapy are several of the ‘talking therapies’ that are used in this line of work.

All psychological therapists will follow the same overall processes and approaches to their work. Whether you are working with a group or an individual, the first stage will always be to assess your patient’s problem. You will need to discuss their issues, assess exactly what the problem is, evaluate the severity of the issue and decide what the best course of action is. Once this stage is reached, the therapist will be required to consult with the patient and draw up a detailed plan of action to help address their issues.

Following this, the therapy sessions begin in earnest. During this process, you’ll be required to complete reports and maintain a detailed record of their progress. There may also be the need for ongoing supervision in the future; however, this is always dependent on the specific needs of the patient.

So who provides the work opportunities then? The biggest employer in the UK is the NHS, which provides work in hospitals, care centres and psychiatric units. Given the number of people that encounter psychological problems and require help and assistance, there are many opportunities for people looking to work in psychological therapy.

What do I need to get into psychological therapy?

What qualities do I need to work in this area? Well firstly, you must be a ‘people person’. This is absolutely essential, especially considering that the majority of your time will be focused on assisting people in distressing situations.

You could be leading several therapy sessions every day with people that are all experiencing extreme psychological problems. Consequently, it’s very important that you have the ability to remain as emotionally detached as possible, otherwise the job could become unbearable.

So when it comes to qualifications, what training do you need? If you’re looking to become a psychological therapist, you will need to have a degree in psychology with a minimum 2.1 classification.

Although virtually all degrees are accredited, it’s important that the British Psychological Society has given its stamp of approval! Make sure you check! Following this, you will need to complete a doctorate qualification to gain chartered status.

Reckon you’ve got what it takes to succeed in a career in psychological therapy? Check out the following occupational profiles to find out more:

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