Why practical learning is essential before working in psychotherapy

From the superficial and the appearances, psychotherapy, or rather, the stereotyped image of what psychotherapy is, can seem a fundamentally intellectual, theoretical activity: two people talking in a room. However, the reality is rather the opposite: psychotherapy is fundamentally practical, especially from the point of view of the therapist.

Ultimately, what is offered in a psychological therapy process is a training program: training to learn to regulate one’s emotions, to detect self-sabotage thoughts in time, to repress impulses when necessary, etc.

Considering that, It is not surprising that those who want to dedicate themselves to work offering psychotherapy must go through a very complete practical learning process.

The 4 reasons why practice is essential to know how to give therapy

These are the aspects for which to work giving psychotherapy practice and ease in the day-to-day with patients is something crucial beyond practical knowledge.

1. The therapeutic bond is something very fluid and dynamic

A good part of the probability of success or failure of a psychotherapy process depends on whether it is possible to establish an adequate psychologist-patient therapeutic bond; a game of balances between professionalism and empathy (but without falling into friendship), and between assertiveness and knowing how to listen. Knowing how to master this facet of therapy requires practice and active participation in psychotherapy processes.

2. You have to know the bureaucratic, administrative and material aspects

The profession of psychotherapist is not limited only to what happens during sessions with patients; You have to know everything that surrounds that and makes it possible, that is, the management of material resources and assets that allow us to work with guarantees and legally. Practice helps avoid unpleasant surprises already from day one, caused by “silly mistakes”.

3. Having contact with other therapists is very valuable

Through practice contacts and decision-making capacity are gained in the context of teamwork; Even if there is only one professional caring for a patient, for example, it is common to seek direct or indirect help from other professionals in the sector.

4. Knowing what works is not enough, you have to know how to apply it

There is a big difference between seeing a therapeutic procedure described in a book, and apply it in a real work context. When you try to apply those ideas to the real world, new problems arise, new questions, and also new solutions that had not been thought of.

How to learn clinical practice in psychotherapy?

These are several key ideas when it comes to specializing in the field of psychotherapy.

1. University education is essential

If you have a university degree in Psychology or Medicine you will not be able to train in the field of clinical and health psychology, so if you are reading this, you want to work doing psychotherapy and you have not gone through these years of training, your first goal should be introduce you to this world learning the basics.

Serving as a psychotherapy professional is complex and potential mistakes can lead to many problems for patients; Therefore, it is normal that before you can propose to start the practices you should spend some time familiarizing yourself with the concepts, techniques, objectives, etc.

2. Make sure you train in psychotherapy

Not all forms of care for patients or for people seeking help with emotional or behavioral problems can be considered psychotherapy. Keep in mind that psychological therapy, in general, it is an intervention process that lasts months, and which has several phases, structured towards reaching the final goal after several sessions. For example, offering one-off telephone support for people who are feeling distress at a certain time is not technically psychotherapy.

3. Look for references in those who offer therapy in their day to day

Within the field of psychology there is a great variety of specializations and professional profiles, and not all of them are dedicated to treating patients through psychotherapeutic processes. For this reason, it is important that you make sure that when it comes to training through Master’s and postgraduate degrees, you have teaching teams with many psychotherapy professionals (duly accredited and trained for this) and that they have devoted themselves to this activity in the last few years. .

4. Learn various therapeutic resources

The most effective forms of psychotherapy vary depending on the problem or disorder the patient has, according to scientific research. Thus, it is positive that you learn to master a relatively wide range of therapeutic resources.

Are you interested in training in clinical practice from psychotherapy?

If you have completed a university degree in Psychology or Medicine and are thinking of becoming a professional in the field of psychotherapy, you may be interested the Master in Integrative Psychotherapy developed by Institut Mensalus.

It is a training and specialization program taught at the Mensalus facilities (although it has the online option with live classes over the Internet, and another mixed one in which online and face-to-face are combined), of a school year of duration, and in which the theoretical-practical aspects of psychological therapy are learned from the hand of professionals, in their work context. At its completion, a University Degree is obtained from the Nebrija University of Madrid.

Starting from an integrative theoretical position in which various techniques and methods are combined to emphasize flexibility in the face of the problems to be treated, students become familiar with clinical practice and observing cases of real therapy. The groups are small, and their dynamics are supported by constant feedback from the teaching team.

You can find more information about Mensalus training programs on this page.

Bibliographic references:

  • American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Fifth edition. DSM-5. Masson, Barcelona.
  • Beidas, RS & Kendall, PC (2010). Training Therapists in Evidence-Based Practice: A Critical Review of Studies From a Systems-Contextual Perspective, Journal of Clinical Psychology, 17 (1): 1 – 30.
  • Fairburn, CG & Cooper, Z. (2011). Therapist competence, therapy quality, and therapist training. Behavior Research and Therapy, 49 (6-7): pp. 373-378.
  • Feixas, G. & Miró, MT (1998). Approaches to psychotherapy. An introduction to psychological treatments. Barcelona: Paidós.


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