Becoming a cognitive behavioral therapist can be a rewarding and fulfilling career path for those interested in helping people recover from addiction and mental illness. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy that focuses on the connection between one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It’s a practical and evidence-based approach that can help individuals in recovery from addiction and mental illness develop new ways of thinking and behaving, leading to lasting and positive changes. To become a cognitive behavioral therapist, one must have a strong foundation in psychology, complete specialized training, and obtain licensure to practice. As you can imagine, this profession requires patience, empathy, and a commitment to continuing education and professional development. If you’re passionate about helping people overcome and improve their well-being, here’s a guide on how to become a cognitive behavioral therapist that can help you accomplish your goals.
CBT is a form of psychotherapy that helps people identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors that may contribute to any emotional or behavioral problems. CBT is based on the idea that by changing our thoughts, emotions, and/or behaviors, others can also change.
Cognitive behavioral therapy also involves a collaborative and structured approach between the therapist and the client. The therapist helps the individual identify and challenge negative thoughts, beliefs, and assumptions, and also develop more adaptive ways of thinking. This process involves recognizing and changing irrational or negative thoughts that may contribute to emotional distress.
CBT has been shown to be effective in treating a wide range of mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It’s typically a short-term treatment, lasting between 8 and 20 sessions.
The focus of cognitive behavioral therapy is on changing problematic behaviors that may be sustaining or worsening problems such as mental illness and substance abuse. The CBT therapist helps the individual develop new coping strategies and problem-solving skills to manage their symptoms and prevent relapse.
CBT therapists mainly focus on one of three things: teaching, treatment, or research. Much of the therapist’s work involves teaching clients how to solve issues with addiction and mental illness by modifying negative thinking, feelings, and behaviors. For individuals aspiring to work in this field, below is a guide on how to become a cognitive behavioral therapist that can help you get started.
CBT Therapist Requirements for Education
Earning a standard four-year degree, or a bachelor’s degree, is the first step in becoming a behavioral therapist. However, you have to have a minimum of a master’s degree in mental health, or at least in a mental health-related field, to become CBT certified.
While your undergraduate degree doesn’t have to be related to mental health, studying fields related to social work and/or psychology can provide students with a strong foundation and a basic understanding of how the mind works. If you want to be a CBT therapist, you should consider taking coursework in behavioral and cognitive psychology, which may include courses on learning, memory, and other forms of interpersonal psychology.
According to The National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists, or the NACBT, students are also encouraged to obtain a doctoral or master’s degree in fields such as behavioral science, counseling, psychology, or social work from a school with regional accreditation. It’s also important to note that only a handful of people discontinue their education after earning a master’s degree. Most students continue their education to further increase their status, knowledge, and opportunities.
CBT Training and Certification
CBT training is required before the individual is permitted to apply for their certification. There are many established trainings that have been approved by the NACBT, including a certificate in rational-emotive therapy as well as cognitive behavioral therapy.
The Academy of Cognitive Therapy requires that candidates have a minimum of 40 hours of specific education in cognitive therapy. Before applying for a training course in cognitive behavioral therapy, the majority of institutes will require that you have a pre-specified amount of experience under your belt. The exact length of experience depends on the institution. For instance, the NACBT requires that students have at least six years of post-master experience in cognitive therapy.
Practitioners with a minimum of 10 years of experience might qualify for the Diplomate in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Another institute, the Academy of Cognitive Therapy, requires candidates to have at least a single year of clinical experience with a minimum of 10 patients.
Generally, it takes six to eight years to become a cognitive behavioral therapist, including the time spent completing your bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, supervised training, and obtaining licensure. However, the exact time frame may vary depending on the individual’s circumstances or state requirements. Additionally, students may choose to obtain CBT continuing education and non-mandatory certification, which can take additional time.
As we previously mentioned, cognitive behavioral therapy has proven to be an effective form of care for those struggling with addiction and/or mental illness. Our Banyan rehab in Massachusetts offers CBT as one of many addiction therapy programs to support our clients in achieving and sustaining sobriety.
If you or someone you care about is battling drug or alcohol abuse, call Banyan Treatment Centers today at 888-280-4763, or you can verify your insurance to learn more about our options for Massachusetts addiction treatment.
What to Expect During Cognitive Behavioral Therapy