Do You Need Math To Be A Therapist

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Do You Need Math To Be A Therapist
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There are many types of therapists. Whether you hope to work at a school, in an office with a chaise lounge, or in a social work office, therapists are there for people in need. While there are several steps to becoming a therapist, it’s never too early to start planning. Let’s break down what you can start doing/taking in high school.

What Classes Should I Take in High School to Become a Therapist?

There are many types of therapists. Whether you hope to work at a school, in an office with a chaise lounge, or in a social work office, therapists are there for people in need. While there are several steps to becoming a therapist, it’s never too early to start planning. Let’s break down what you can start doing/taking in high school.

Psychology

While there is no one thing to major in to become a therapist, most people who go on to get their master’s study psychology or a related field as an undergrad. Taking psychology in high school is a great foundation for those who hope to major in it in college. Not all high schools have a psychology elective but it’s becoming increasingly more popular. If yours doesn’t however, you can still explore psych outside of class. More on that later.

STAT stat

Taking higher-level math classes is a good call in general for anyone hoping to get into a great college program. However, a great class to add to your math roster is AP Stat. Not a ton of students take it, but Stat is the basis of a lot of research including research into fields like psychology. Having a strong understanding of how research in the sciences and social sciences are conducted will help you in college, your master’s, and your career.

Science

Why would a therapist need to know biology and chemistry? Well, to understand things like “brain chemistry,” you are going to need it. While therapy is not a hard science field, having some familiarity with high-level science will help you when you take classes like Neurology or abnormal psychology. Plus these classes (especially if they are AP or IB,) look great on any transcript.

Sign up for Peer Counseling or Mental Health Clubs

OK, so this isn’t technically a class but there are several clubs that you should consider joining if you are dreaming of becoming a therapist. A great one is peer-to-peer counseling. It’s a great way to learn about counseling and usually comes with some training in talk therapy. If your school doesn’t do peer counseling or if you are looking for more to do, you could also volunteer for a helpline. Usually, these are tied to suicide prevention so they can get a little heavy, but there are others that deal with mental health and LGBTQ+ issues as well. There are often teen mental health groups both inside and outside high schools. These are also great places to get involved. If you are more interested in the social work side of therapy, you could also look into volunteering with mutual aid groups or other community organizations.

Not every high school has these, but if your school offers Anthropology, Child Development, Ethnic and Gender Studies, Parenting, and or Sociology, they are all great courses to take. They can give you great context and background knowledge for your college career.

Take a class outside of class

This is an especially great idea if your school has a limited offering of classes, but we recommend this to every student. There are a couple of different ways to do this. Among the two most popular are summer programs at colleges and online courses. Pre-college summer programs are available at many different colleges and universities. While we haven’t seen any called “Pre-Therapy” you can take courses at many of them in Psychology or related fields. You can also take an online course. Online courses are great for all students because they are flexible and affordable. Some ones we love for those interested in therapy include: Yale’s the Science of Well Being or Intro to Psych, Wesleyan’s Abnormal Psych, and U Chicago’s Intro to Neurobiology. There are a lot of courses out there. Find one that interests you.

College is just one step on the way to becoming a therapist, but it’s an important one. If you are sure that you want to become a therapist, starting to plan early can be a great asset. Taking the right classes, joining the right clubs, and following your passions can take you far.

Need some help planning for college? The next steps? We can help. Contact us here.

Is There Any Math Required for a Degree in Counseling?

Do You Need Math To Be A Therapist

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Although there is no close connection between the fields of mathematics and the community and social service field of counseling, students should still be prepared to take some math coursework. At the undergraduate level, students must meet general education requirements and potentially some studies in research and statistical analysis. Graduate programs may also include math elements in certain specialized coursework as well as advanced research and statistics coursework.

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Understanding the Educational Path to a Counseling Career

If you want to work in a role such as marriage and family therapist, school counselor, mental health counselor or rehabilitation counselor, you will need a master’s degree in that field, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Prior to going to graduate school for any of these fields, you must earn your bachelor’s degree. Undergraduate students can choose general or specialized programs of study to prepare for their graduate studies in counseling. Some students choose to major in psychology or sociology. Others choose colleges that offer bachelor’s-level programs in subjects like substance abuse counseling, clinical mental health counseling and behavioral health counseling. The math requirements differ between the undergraduate and graduate levels of study.

Specialized counseling programs at the undergraduate level are uncommon, especially compared to ubiquitous degree programs like psychology. The American Psychological Association recognizes 2,832 accredited four-year colleges with psychology programs.

Math Requirements for Undergraduate Students

At the undergraduate level, students must complete studies in a broad range of subjects. Colleges routinely require students to take at least one or two math courses as part of their general education requirements, or mandatory studies in fields like the liberal arts and sciences, the humanities and communication. Undergraduate students majoring in counseling often take classes such as Fundamentals of Mathematics or Probability and Statistics for Liberal Arts to meet these requirements. As part of their major coursework, students may have to take classes with a math or science component, such as psychopharmacology, research design, psychological assessment techniques and statistics for counselors.

In most counseling degree programs, students will spend most of their major coursework to studying topics like counseling theories and practices, human development, psychological methodologies and counseling in individual, family and group settings.

Curricula of Graduate Counseling Programs

Graduate coursework builds on the foundational knowledge students developed as undergraduates. As a result, the subject matter you study in a master’s degree program is typically both more advanced and more specialized. Instead of filling up your course schedule with general education classes and introductory coursework, you may take classes such as couples and family counseling, career counseling, counseling addictive disorders and crisis management. Counseling programs can range from general in nature to specialization tracks as narrow as trauma and crisis counseling, forensic counseling and military families and culture.

Math coursework is less prevalent in many master’s degree programs in counseling, but as with undergraduate major coursework, some degree of math knowledge is needed for certain classes. A class in research methodology and program evaluation, for example, would require students to use analytical skills in interpreting research and to understand quantitative data and designs in research.

If you choose to study counseling psychology, rather than traditional counseling, in graduate school, you may find that your curriculum includes more extensive studies in math. Psychology, the science of thought processes and behavior, often emphasizes research and the scientific method more than counseling degree programs do. Students in a counseling psychology degree program may be asked to take coursework in advanced statistics, such as an applied multivariate statistics class. The subject matter covered in such a class might include multivariate data screening strategies, data analysis and the use of computer-based statistical analysis programs.

Much of a graduate counseling curriculum focuses on gaining hands-on clinical counseling experience through practicums and internships. Upon graduation, aspiring counselors must complete 2,000 to 4,000 hours of postdegree supervised experience, the BLS reported.

The Most Important Qualities for Counselors

While it is important for aspiring counselors to develop at least basic familiarity with research methods and statistical analysis methods, being good at math is not among the strengths most needed for success in this field. Even in areas of counseling that require strong analytical skills, such as school and career counseling, what is important is being able to interpret the results of assessments accurately so that you can help students or clients with their career choices, the BLS reported. You don’t need highly technical abilities in analysis for this career path.

Instead, the BLS lists qualities such as patience and compassion as among the most important attributes counselors can possess. After all, showing empathy is crucial for connecting with clients and building trust. As a process, counseling can take time, so counselors must be patient as they work to help clients develop new insights and change ingrained behavior patterns.

Other important qualities for counselors include listening skills, speaking skills and interpersonal skills, the BLS reported.

Maddie Otto

By Maddie Otto

Maddie is a second-year medical student at the University of Notre Dame in Sydney and one of Level Medicine’s workshop project managers. Prior to studying medicine, she worked and studied as a musician in Melbourne. She has a background in community arts, which combined her love for both the arts and disability support. She is an advocate for intersectional gender equity, and is passionate about accessibility and inclusive practice within the healthcare system.