How to Become a Senior Behavior Therapist?
Steps to Become a Behavior TherapistA behaviour therapist can work as a psychologist, clinician, consultant, social worker, or analyst to help patients cope with a wide variety of emotional and mental issues. They can work in hospitals, community health centres, nursing homes, schools, or in private practice. If this career sounds interesting to you, follow these five steps to become a behaviour therapist:
Earn an undergraduate degree in a field like psychology or sociology.
To have a career as a behaviour therapist, plan to earn a minimum of a Bachelor's Degree. These types of degrees usually take four years of full-time study to complete. Consider disciplines like psychology, social work, or sociology. Most universities offer degree programs for this field online and in-person on campus. Courses may include philosophy, psychology, math, chemistry, physics, and life science.
Gain work experience as a research assistant or human services caseworker.
Consider entry-level positions to gain work experience in the psychology or social work fields. Roles such as human services caseworkers, psychiatric technicians, research assistants, and counsellors may help you earn skills you can apply to higher-level degree programs and secure long-term full-time jobs as a behaviour therapist. Some Bachelor's Degree programs may expect you to complete an internship as part of your graduation requirements. Both paid and unpaid internships also count as work experience in these fields.
Earn a Master's Degree or Ph.D. in your chosen discipline.
Many employers may prefer that behaviour therapists have a Master's Degree or Ph.D. in a related discipline to pursue more advanced roles in the field. Those who choose to specialize in social work may consider the Master of Social Work (MSW) degree. Those who choose to stay in psychology may pursue an MA in Mental Health Counselling or a Master's Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.
Earn your provincial/territorial or clinical licensure.
In Canada, if you are a social worker or psychologist, you must register with the relevant regulator in your province or territory. The specific requirements for these licences vary by province/territory, but many require a designated amount of education or clinical time and a passing score on an examination. Consider researching the requirements for your province/territory before beginning your schooling and training to make sure the program prepares you for the correct steps to licensure.
Pursue professional certifications from organizations like the Evergreen Certification Institute.
Therapists who specialize in working with patients with specific disorders may benefit from earning separate professional certifications in those areas. Employers may not require these types of certifications to earn a job, but they can show your dedication to learning and advancing your career.
Some organizations that provide these types of certifications include:
- Behavior Therapy Training Institute (BTTI) from the International OCD Foundation: This program includes two levels of training for the behaviour therapy model of exposure and response prevention (ERP) for therapists working with children and teens.
- Canadian Association of Cognitive and Behavioural Therapies: This certification involves a two-stage application process.
- Evergreen Certification Institute: This partnership with the Treatment Implementation Collaborative provides training in dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT).
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