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How Do I Become a PTSD Therapist?

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  • Written By: Laura M. Sands
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 28 July 2014
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In most places, in order to become a PTSD therapist, you must first become a trained and licensed psychologist, psychiatrist, or become licensed in clinical social work. If you plan to prescribe medication to patients, you will also either need a medical degree or, if you live in a place that doesn’t require a medical degree, you may have to undergo additional pharmacology training, plus take an additional examination. Training in any of these disciplines will help prepare you for a career in counseling. After obtaining the appropriate licensing to counsel others, you may then choose to specialize in treating anxiety disorders and undergo specific training to help you counsel people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Training to become a PTSD therapist may vary according to what country you live in and where you plan to practice your profession. In the United States, either obtaining a post-graduate degree in psychology or psychiatry is the first step, and this entails at least five years of study at the graduate and post-graduate level before taking the appropriate licensing examination. A person entering the counseling profession may also do so by earning a graduate degree in social work before working toward becoming a licensed clinical social worker.

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In many places, before you are allowed to test for licensing, you may also be required to complete a lengthy internship to gain supervised experience. Most also undergo psychological counseling to assure their mental and emotional fitness before being allowed to counsel the general public. After experience has been gained and candidates have undergone individual counseling, a person is allowed to take an examination to become a licensed therapist.

After obtaining a license, a counselor may become a PTSD therapist by choosing to focus solely on this discipline. Depending on where you choose to practice, additional coursework may not be mandatory. Most reputable therapists, however, engage in continuing education, as well as personal study, while also joining relevant organizations and pursuing additional certification in order to provide therapy for patients with PTSD.

Even after you become a PTSD therapist, it will be important to stay on top of the latest research in this field. It is therefore likely that you will continue to engage in continuing education periodically throughout your career. Doing so will not only increase your professional stature and outreach capabilities, but will also better equip you to help clients suffering from PTSD as new insight and research that is helpful in patient treatment becomes available.

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