Psychotherapist Career Information

A psychotherapist career isn’t ideal for everyone. It requires a high level of motivation because it's one of the more difficult of all counseling and therapeutic jobs.

The Work Environment

The work is essentially case management. Psychotherapists use a range of diagnostic methods and tools, including patient interviews, analysis and structured therapeutic techniques. The work consists of a detailed, and sometimes stressful, process of identifying issues and problems, as well as creating a working treatment method. Psychotherapists develop structured analysis and treatment programs to assist patients.

You can specialize in certain ages or situations in this line of work. Common career streams include the following:

  • Professional counselors
  • Marriage counselors
  • Family counselors
  • Clinical social workers
  • Pediatric disorders
  • Geriatric disorders.

The typical conditions they treat are extensive. A few include these:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Depression
  • Personal crises
  • Alcoholism
  • Substance abuse.

Professional estimate that at least 1 in 5 people will experience some sort of mental disorder, sometime in their lifetimes. In terms of the U.S. population, that number would equal about 60 million people.

Psychotherapy gets more complex with career advancement and areas of specialization. As psychotherapists progress, their work naturally includes more complex cases and more demanding conditions. Chronic mental illnesses may involve decades of therapy and counseling, as the therapist continues to modify therapeutic methods and monitor patients and their life issues.


You could expect anywhere from $55,000 to $150,000 depending on your qualifications, experience, specialties and client base. Earnings may also include other areas of income like publication, media royalties or in some cases expanding clinical or private practices.


The work schedule usually follows standard clinic or practice hours, but it may include some extra work, depending on patient issues.

Place of Employment

This is a highly diversified form of practice. In the U.S., 34 percent of psychotherapists work in private practice and as independent consultants. That employment pattern creates a range of income options and career tracks. Others work in academic, government, training and clinical practices.

Other Forms of Income

Some psychotherapists also publish studies in the form of books and academic works. Some are authors of best sellers. A few work in media-related roles for professional journals, TV programs and Internet enterprises.

Opportunities for Advancement

Career progression in this field depends largely on your personal motivation. Although qualified, experienced psychotherapists do have considerable job and career options, career advancement may often come from your own desires, as you work more deeply in your preferred areas of specialization. A combination of qualifications and practice experience define that progress.

At senior professional and academic levels, psychotherapists may operate as advisers on mental health policies in their fields. This role can involve submissions or commissioned work on government policies, regulations and other critical areas of health care. The care of mental health patients in institutions, for example, is a major issue globally. Psychotherapists, individually and through professional associations, contribute to improving that form of care.