5 Types of Therapists

A mother and her young daughter consult a therapist.Mental health therapy is one of the fastest-growing fields, with high demand for practitioners. Since it is estimated that mental health conditions affect one of every four Americans each year, therapists are needed to provide help.

Individuals considering a career as a counselor or therapist eventually must choose what type of therapist to become. It goes without saying that a strong sense of compassion and a dedication to helping people are requirements for all therapists. Here are five potential career paths.


Clinical Therapist

Clinical therapists work with patients who have severe mental disorders. In addition to a master’s degree and state licensure, they must complete a clinical component during their education.


Drug and Alcohol Therapist

Substance abuse therapists work to identify issues that cause addiction in their clients. They are available to help patients in a short-term crisis and also provide long-term care. Drug and alcohol therapists help clients find medical treatment, housing and peer support (like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous).


Marriage Therapist

The role of a marriage therapist is to offer guidance to couples experiencing problems in their relationship. Domestic violence, infertility, sexual problems, infidelity, conflict and substance abuse are all issues that marriage therapists might address. During sessions, marriage therapists interpret how couples interact and help them identify, assess and solve conflict. They can help guide a couple through a divorce when needed.


Family Therapist

A family therapist is similar to a marriage therapist. Specifically, a family therapist might tackle child and teen behavior problems, depression and anxiety, LGBTQ issues and grieving within a family unit. During sessions, family therapists can identify behavioral relationship problems and help replace those behaviors with healthier alternatives.


Pastoral Therapist

A pastoral therapist is someone who provides mental health services and uses spiritual values and beliefs to guide their sessions. Many people find that during therapy, they like for their own values and beliefs to be taken into consideration and applied, and pastoral therapy meets that need. Pastoral counselors receive education in both counseling and religion and are oftentimes clergy members.


Salary Potential and Education Required

The education requirements for different types of therapists are much the same. A master’s degree plus licensure and continued education are required for all therapists. Pastoral therapists must have training in religious studies, and clinical therapists typically go on to earn a doctoral degree to stay relevant in their field.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual salary for marriage and family therapists is $49,880, while the median annual salary is $82,510 for clinical and counseling psychologists and $78,780 for school psychologists. Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors earn $48,520 on average.