If you are thinking about a career in mental health, you have a variety of choices. You could become a substance abuse counselor, a therapist, a psychologist or a psychiatrist, and these are just some of the choices available. To help you narrow down what exactly you want to do, you may want to consider some of the points below.
One thing to think about is how much time you want to spend on your education. For example, if you want to become a psychologist, you will need to get a doctorate, and psychiatrists must go to medical school. If you want to become a substance abuse counselor, a bachelor’s degree may be sufficient. Requirements for becoming a therapist or counselor will vary based on where you live, what kind of position you want and where you want to work. While graduate school can be costly, you may be eligible for federal financial aid or scholarships. You may also be able to take out loans from a private lender to help pay for tuition for your graduate medical degree or any further schooling required.
Another thing to think about is what kind of environment you want to work in. For example, do you want to work in a clinic or a hospital setting? Mental health workers may work in private practice, in prisons, in rehabilitation clinics, in schools or in a number of other different settings. If you want to have your own practice, you may want to consider taking a few business classes.
Population to Work With
What kind of population do you want to work with? At all levels, you may choose to specialize in a particular group. For example, you might want to work with a particular age group, such as children, adolescents or seniors. You might choose to work specifically with married couples, people who are in prison or students in an educational setting, or you may simply want to work with anyone who needs help.
Focus of Treatment
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who focuses on psychiatric illnesses. While some might offer some therapy, your concentration may be more on medical solutions if you choose this pathway. Psychiatrists may also deal more with the most severe mental illnesses. A psychologist can prescribe some medication in a handful of states, but in general, their focus is more on talk therapy. Therapists and counselors also use talk therapy with their clients. As a therapist or counselor, you might help others with their relationships, trauma, grief, addiction or many other issues that might arise.
In order to be effective in the field of mental health, there are a few qualities that you need to have. First, you need to have empathy for others. You also need to be a good communicator. You will be talking extensively to people about their problems, and you need to be able to do so clearly and compassionately. You will also need to be patient. Some patients may have a long road to recovery or may not follow your recommendations.