What Type of Therapist Should I Become?

When you’re considering a career in mental health services, it’s exciting that there are so many diverse fields of study. You can learn more about popular therapy techniques, start a role working in teletherapy services, or specialize in working with patients from unique demographics with important, individual needs.

Of course, this is a bit of a double-edged sword. Seeing as there are so many different fields, it often feels overwhelming to choose one to pursue. While ultimately, your passions will guide you to the right specialization, it’s a good idea to understand a few different kinds of therapy and treatment careers and how to get involved.

You could work with individuals coping with substance use issues.


Substance use, abuse, and dependency impact millions of individuals worldwide. Not only can substance abuse significantly impact someone who engages in addictive behaviors, but it can also influence nearby adolescents, family members, and loved ones. Unfortunately, substance abuse is often romanticized by the media, and it’s also stigmatized. That’s why psychologists, counselors, and therapists specialize in substance use disorder and the science behind addictive tendencies and behaviors. This also gives you a few employment opportunities too. For example, you could work at an inpatient rehab facility, help develop intervention treatment programs and even be a clinician at various alcohol treatment centers in Arizona, Montana, Maine, or any other state of your choosing.

Working with individuals who grapple with drug abuse and alcohol addiction is often difficult and regularly rewarding. However, you need to set robust treatment plans and address accompanying mental health issues that alcohol and drug addiction can exacerbate. Detoxification, in particular, requires a carefully planned treatment program and attentive care. You also need to consider aftercare services, family therapy, and ongoing individual therapy sessions. By providing counseling to individuals with substance use disorder, you’re working to help encourage sober living and give people a second chance at a healthy, productive life.

You can learn about LGBT-specific therapy.

LGBTQ individuals and LGBTQ couples have different therapy needs than the general population. As such, it requires a psychiatrist or therapist with a delicate touch to handle LGBTQ+ topics. You need to express sensitivity and also understand that there’s unique social anxiety that many LGBTQ individuals experience in many situations. In fact, it’s part of the reason pride exists. So, whether you work with cognitive therapy or prefer to help lesbian couples, LGBTQ counseling services are more important now than ever.

In particular, LGBTQ couples experience unique relationship issues that require sensitivity and proper training. LGBT couples counseling is a rewarding practice specialization that can help you develop a holistic approach to couples therapy. You can help Queer individuals learn more about gender identity and expression within a relationship, how to unpack trauma and build intimacy, and how to encourage sexual honesty and communication. This can benefit gay men, lesbian couples, transgender, or non-binary couples to learn more about themselves and each other.

CBT therapy can provide a wide reach.


Alcohol rehab, couples therapy, and substance abuse treatment may be too intense for some practitioners. While every form of psychotherapy or psychiatry carries its own pros and cons, some fields require different strengths or highlight specific weaknesses. If you want to help many people but do not know how to specialize your services, you can pursue a CBT specialty. CBT, or cognitive-behavioral therapy, aims to help patients understand the patterns behind their behavior and find ways to identify these patterns and address them.

CBT often provides individuals with stronger coping tactics and mechanisms to spot unhealthy thoughts or behaviors as they happen and take steps to correct them. Oftentimes, counselors and therapists rely on CBT techniques in addiction treatment, and CBT can even help encourage long-term sobriety. CBT isn’t without unique challenges, however. While CBT therapists aim to address current problems, they don’t always tackle underlying conditions. Of course, different critics will take this as more negative than others, but CBT may occasionally have limited views.

However, CBT also has numerous advantages. In many ways, CBT encourages patients to immerse themselves in their emotions and anxieties by confronting them instead of avoiding them. It may even be as effective as medicine with the right type of therapy and treatment plans for some mental health disorders. Compared to other talk-centric therapy options, CBT may also work in a shorter timeframe.

There are nearly unlimited options.

Whether you’re interested in cognitive-behavioral therapy or want to learn more about medical detox and drug rehab therapy programs, there are plenty of great options. The exciting thing about therapy is that it continues to evolve, too. In many cases, if a specific practice doesn’t already exist, you can pioneer it. Plenty of therapists contribute to ongoing research, assessments, and styles. This means that you have a lot of freedom if you choose to become a therapist. Take some time to learn about different fields and specialties to make the most informed decision possible.