How do I Become a Behavioral Therapist?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2019
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In order to become a behavioral therapist, an individual usually has to earn a college degree. Often, individuals seeking this job work toward master’s and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees in psychology-related fields. Some candidates may find entry-level potions with bachelor’s degrees, however. The exact requirements for becoming a behavioral therapist may vary from country to country and jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but most places require these types of therapists to obtain licensing as well.

There are certain skills a person needs in order to become a behavioral therapist. An individual in this position has to be personable and have good communication skills. He’ll also need leadership ability, listening skills, and the ability to be discreet. Behavioral therapists also need writing skills, as they may have to write reports on a regular basis and keep written records of their therapy sessions. Since some behavioral therapists choose to run independent practices, the development of business skills may be helpful as well.

Often, a person who wishes to become a behavioral therapist enrolls in college and strives to earn a Ph.D. in a subject such as psychology, psychiatry, social work, or counseling. Earning advanced degrees often provides prospective therapists with the most job opportunities. With a Ph.D., an individual may choose to work for a company or organization, for example, or run an independent practice. In most cases, earning these advanced degrees requires several years of study beyond the first four years of college.


Some people choose to earn master’s degrees in preparation to become a behavioral therapist. Often, these individuals have numerous job opportunities available to them after graduate school and find work opportunities in varied settings. In some jurisdictions, they may be able to enter private practice as well. Though master’s degrees may be acceptable for many jobs in this field, some employers look more favorably upon job candidates with Ph.D. degrees.

Individuals with bachelor’s degrees are not excluded from the behavioral therapy job market. They may find fewer job opportunities available to them, however, or find it difficult to progress to positions that entail higher levels of responsibility. In many jurisdictions, an individual with a bachelor’s degree cannot begin his own behavioral therapy practice.

Licensing is typically required to become a behavioral therapist in many places. Requirements for licensing and the licensing processes may vary, depending on where an individual would like to practice. Normally, an individual has to take a written examination in order to be licensed. Satisfactory results on a background check may be required as well.


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Post 4

Subway11-I think that working as children therapists can also be heartbreaking because some of these children suffer very traumatic experiences that are difficult to imagine. But sometimes the therapist is the only true friend that a child in these situations may have.

Post 3

Bhutan- I would love to become a child therapist. I know that children often have difficulty expressing themselves and often face issues that most adults could not handle.

Building a child's self esteem and providing anti- bullying information can really help a child go through their difficult middle school and even high school years when image seems to be all that matters.

Sometimes learning how to become a behavioral therapist is important because you learn how to apply different forms of therapy on various patients.

A child may be embarrassed or unwilling to talk, but if you analyze their artwork through art therapy it can offer valuable insight that will help you treat the child.

Post 2

GreenWeaver- I would love to become a psychologist or become a counselor specializing in weight related issues.

I really feel for people that are overweight and they often have to deal with their problems with a cognitive therapist before they can begin healing and changing their life for the better.

A therapist can help the patient see what the triggers in their life are that cause the sensation to overeat and counter that with an alternative behavior unrelated to food.

For example, if the patient tends to overeat when stressed, a therapist might suggest that the patient take a walk every time the feeling of panic occurs.

This subtle conditioning allows the patient to seek comfort

in walking rather than overeating.

These measures are discussed with one by one until there is no longer a weight issue. Once the patient has effectively lost weight and even reached their goal, the therapy does not end because like any addiction it is managed but never cured.

In order to discourage setbacks a patient will continue to see the therapist but maybe on a less frequent basis. They may join a group like Weight Watchers in order to continue seeking group therapy as well as nutritional advice.

Post 1

A cognitive therapist offers therapy that traces how and why certain behavior occurs.

They often help their clients determine what are the trigger mechanisms that allow the problematic behavior to continue.

They often deal with addictive disorders in which people are hopeless addicted to overeating, excessive drinking, or drug use.

In order to treat these addictions the therapist often tells the client to swear complete honesty which is necessary because often people with these addictions often lie very well.

Sometimes therapists work with children’s behavior issues. Often children diagnosed with ADHD have to go to behavioral therapy in order to learn social cues and to function appropriately in the classroom and with other children.

These children often have trouble making friends and they often have to learn from the child therapist how to alter their behavior though various behavior modification techniques.

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