How to Become a Cognitive Therapist

Overview

Becoming a cognitive therapist takes a lot of hard work, dedication and time which is why an applicant needs to have genuine interest in the subject.  The profession involves a number of areas that people can specialize in such as abnormal psychology, social psychology, educational psychology, developmental psychology and personality psychology. A lot of cognitive therapists specialize in a particular aspect such as problem solving, language processing, attention, memory and others.  They also mostly work with patients on a long term basis and will work in hospitals, education facilities, prisons, treatment, rehabilitation centers, government agencies and some with private practice.

Education Requirements

If you want to become a cognitive therapist you will have to get a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in psychology and although a further Masters of Arts (MA) will without a doubt lead to gainful employment, many cognitive therapists will be required to poses a Ph.D in Psychology and a Psy. D.

Related: How to Become a Developmental Therapist

Cognitive therapists are also required to be trained in the areas of cognitive learning as well as neuroscience.  A psychologist wishing to be certified and practice in a private setting will have to work at internships in entry level jobs in order to gain experience and complete the 3000 hrs of supervised practice that are required.  After certification, they are still required to further their education credits in order to maintain their certification and license.

Job Duties

Cognitive therapists can sometimes treat patients full time although there are those who will work with patients part time while devoting the remainder of their time teaching or conducting research.

Those in private practice may treat conditions such as attention, processing, perception, language processing or problem-solving and may even sometimes treat serious cognitive problems such as dementia.

Those who teach will mostly be involved in teaching cognitive psychology concepts to the students in the graduate and undergraduate levels. Those who do research will often lead or assist in researching a particular subject with their findings being published in peer reviewed journals.

Many universities may even require that they conduct some study research as part of their job description.

Salary

The salaries of cognitive psychologists have been on the rise recently and the Psychology Career Center reports that cognitive psychologists who were working in 2009 as professors had a mean income of about $76,090. The U.S. department of Labor’s Data also estimates the annual salary for the industrial psychologists to be about $87,330.

The state of Maryland is the highest paying with cognitive psychologists practicing in the state having an average income of more than $102,000 annually while Nebraska offers the lowest salary with an average of about $65,150 a year.

Related: Difference Between Cognitive Psychology and Behavioral Psychology

Cognitive therapists who dedicated their career to research and teaching had a mean salary of more than $100,000 a year while those who worked as physicians and had a private practice earned more than $110,000 a year.

Licensing and Credentials

In order to be licensed for private practice in the state they work in, a cognitive psychologist will have to fulfill a number of requirements such as earning a degree in the area of specialty and also completing up 3000 hours or internship in an accredited institution.

The American Psychology Association will accredit programs in clinical, counseling and school psychology areas of expertise and the National Association of School Psychologists is the body that is mostly involved in the official recognition of advanced degree programs in school psychology.

Although laws and regulations may vary from one state to another, the mandatory requirement for all those who want to practice is that they must possess a doctorate in psychology and have an approved internship for more than two years. Most states will also require that they pass a number of standardized tests that are usually administered by the state licensing board and in some cases they may also be required to complete additional essay as well as oral questions.  Other states may even require additional education to renew and maintain the license.

Other Skills that Psychologists Need to Possess

Although the educational requirements are very important there are a number of personality requirements that are recommended by the U.S. Department of Labor so as to ensure that a psychologist is able to perform their task effectively. They include

  • Emotional stability; a practicing psychologists should at the very least be able to keep their emotions in check so as to objectively help their patients with their emotional problems.
  • Should have good people skills; this is a job that requires sufficient people skills so that they are able to understand their clients’ problems and come up with solutions that will serve their clients well.
  • Should be sensitive, compassionate and capable to work as a team
  • Patient, strong leaders and have the ability to work as a team

Further Reading

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