Dear Dr. Romance: What do I need to do to become a therapist?


Dear Dr. Romance: What do I need to do to become a therapist?
Dr. Romance advises a student on the meaning of 'therapy is an art you can only learn by practicing"

Dear Dr. Romance:


I am a 25 year old M.A. student from the Middle East. This year is my final year to have my M.A. degree as a Family specialist to become a family counselor. I saw many things you wrote online as a family and couple therapists and i Loved them all! I was wondering if you could direct me and hear what you have to suggest that I should do after my Masters. Which courses or degrees are best for me to take more to have a wide experience as a family specialist .. And I am considering a PhD. program, which program you would suggest the most? What is your PhD. was about? Thank you for your time I would really appreciate it if you could give me answers

Dear Reader:


Congratulations on almost completing your Masters. I know how much work that takes. I have no information about licensing in the Middle East. When I got my Masters, I was required to have 3,000 hours of counseling under supervision, and then I sat for a California licensing exam, which I passed in 1978. That gave me a license to work as a Marriage, Family Therapist, or psychotherapist. I began a private practice, which I'm still doing today. In 1987, I went back and got a PhD.

If you want to work as a therapist in your own country, and they have licensing, I suggest you go to the licensing board there to find out their requirements and accepted schools. The best thing you can do is begin doing therapy -- as in intern, if that is what your country requires. You'll learn far more on the job than in school.


Find a therapist that you admire and want to learn from, and see if you can work in that practice, under the supervision of that therapist. Get started as soon as possible (if you haven't already) The only way to learn therapy is  therapy begins with the students practicing on each other, and then observing group therapy, then doig group therapy and then individual therapy. What you learn in class is helpful, but therapy is an art you can only learn by practicing.   Find a professional clinician's course taught independently by a therapist you respect.  "Ten Things People Don’t Know about Therapy" and "Guidelines for Finding and Using Therapy Wisely" will give you some insight.

Here are the guidelines I use when teaching students:


1. Make sure you are effective with clients. Clients who get better are very motivating. It’s more important to help clients heal old trauma then to adhere to a theoretical base.

2.Work from your heart – trust yourself and your intuition. If you guess wrong, just accept it and go on. In the end, you have to do therapy your own way. Theories and studies are helpful, but not if they hamper your own style.


This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission.
Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Dr. Tina Tessina


Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D.
Dr. Romance Blog:!/DrRomanceBlog
Amazon author page

Location: Long Beach, CA
Credentials: LMFT, MFT, PhD
Other Articles/News by Dr. Tina Tessina:

Dear Dr. Romance: I Would Like To Get Out Of This Anxiety


Dear Dr. Romance: I'm a 70-year-old man who has been married more than 40 years.  I read your article "Autonomy and Dependency" I feel like I've been in a codependency relationship the last fifteen years and have developed anxiety & depression. My wife is a strong person and I'm a 'pleaser.' I've been on ... Read more

Live Outside The Box


I was speaking with a client today about how he is burn-out in his career. This is a man who's been very successful, earned a lot of money, and worked hard for a big, national corporation. I told him he was burned-out, and on strike, because he had put himself in a box about work. The box consisted of four walls: Wall #1: I have to make $$$$ amount ... Read more

What To Do When You (Literally) Can't Afford To Be Let Down Again


Dear Dr. Romance: My partner, with whom I have been in a relationship for the past year, has changed and let me down twice. We were first friends for several years, and became a couple a year ago. We both fell in love instantly and desired to live together to build a good future, financially, with family. We both have children from past relationships and ... Read more

See More

Ask The Experts

Have a dating or relationship question?
Visit Ask YourTango and let our experts and community answer.