How to become a psychologist: what you need to know to be a good psychotherapist, and where to start self-study if you have no education

The question of how to become a psychologist is asked not only by school graduates who have decided on their future profession and are now preparing to enter a higher education institution. Sometimes the question of changing a profession becomes relevant even in adulthood. If you, even without special education, are able to help others in solving their mental problems, you should think about becoming a psychologist. In this case, as a rule, experience comes into play - experience of communicating with people, life experience, innate worldly wisdom.

Characteristics of the profession: functions and tasks

Specialization is very difficult; it involves constant contact with different people. Some come to the appointment themselves, while others are forced. Difficulties in some situations cannot be avoided.

The services of such a doctor are in demand everywhere. Specialists in this profile work in law enforcement agencies, educational institutions, and large companies. Where, against a background of constant stress, employees or students may need psychological support.

The activity involves working with clients, conducting consultations, trainings, assessing personal qualities and mental state, and providing assistance in difficult life situations. Direct responsibilities are usually determined by the workplace and area of ​​specialization. For example, in a large company, a psychotherapist advises management on interaction with subordinates; in kindergartens and schools he monitors the mental health of children.


Any career path can have many obstacles, psychology is no exception.

We will focus on the most important obstacles that may arise at the very beginning of your career.

1. Although the level of development of “helping professions” is growing, it still remains at a rather low level.

It’s much easier to listen to a friend’s advice, albeit bad, but free, or to communicate one-on-one with a vessel of intoxicating 40-degree liquid, or even not to see the need for active action at all: “Why? This is normal, everyone lives like this!”

Exit: The psychologist himself should engage in active educational activities about the importance of receiving professional help. It doesn’t occur to anyone to get expensive dental implants in Petka’s neighbor’s basement or to give birth on their own in a field...

2. Impossibility to guarantee 100% results to the client.

On the one hand, the client is right in wanting to receive precise guarantees, because the amount is usually significant and we are not talking about basic needs for which there will always be money. In addition, many beginning consultants and trainers forget what they are working for and sell their knowledge and technologies to the client, and not the result. Then the situation turns out that a novice business coach calls companies with one single desire - to sell his training (for example, Sales training) and preferably at a higher price, without thinking about whether the client needs it in the first place and whether it will at least help partially solve a complex business problem.

On the other hand, it is important to understand that guarantees can be given for what you, as a psychologist, will definitely teach or help with. For example, you came to a new restaurant and ordered an unknown dish. The restaurant can guarantee that this dish will be prepared for you in the form stated and in the appropriate quality. But whether you like this dish or not, that’s a completely different story - you’ll have to pay anyway.

Exit: any interaction with a client is determined by a written contract or an oral agreement, the purpose of which is to explain the rules of work that you consider the most useful and convenient for both yourself and the client and at the same time establish mutual guarantees and distribute responsibility for the result.

3. Anti-advertising from low-skilled specialists and would-be psychologists.

The reputation of practical psychology not only in the CIS countries and throughout the world is quite ambiguous. Indeed, many people for whom psychology “cries”, only after hearing about training or coaching, are in a hurry to say goodbye to you forever.

But if you think deeply, this happens in any field - it’s just an additional need to think about your presentation, in which you can immediately outline your competitive advantages.

Exit: Meet the honorary title of psychologist at the level of professional competence and personal life congruence. In other words, it should be obvious to the naked eye that you yourself can be an example and know exactly what you are going to teach. Your personal achievements, merits and awards can help build partnership trust with the client. Well, as you know, word of mouth often precedes your actions: the more talented you are in your field, the less you have to prove it.

What does it take to become a psychologist?

First of all, you need to understand that choosing a profession is a big responsibility. In the course of his activities, a specialist, like any other doctor, should not cause harm to the patient. His distinctive feature is his love for people - a true desire to help them understand their problems and choose the right path in life.

Iron patience is the most important tool for successful psychotherapy. Only a truly passionate person can become patient. There are a lot of areas of such activity, so it is impossible to be a professional in all of them at once. A good start would be a self-education course, in which you should study available information on the Internet and popular science books.

What makes a good specialist

How to become a confident man and increase your self-esteem

Before starting work, a person must understand what a psychologist needs to know to work. This applies not only to knowledge of subjects, but also to what can be done and what cannot be done. Ethics must be at the forefront of everything.

Important! In Russia and the CIS countries, the ethical code of psychologists has not been adopted, but it is advisable to adhere to it.

A specialist cannot devalue, give advice, insult, humiliate, or harm the client. Before starting therapy, the psychologist must determine whether the problem is psychological. If it is of a psychiatric nature, then the client should be sent to a doctor.

A person receives the necessary level of knowledge during training, but it is constantly worth improving. During supervision, i.e. mentoring, a young specialist analyzes each case of his work with an experienced person. This is necessary in order to identify errors in therapy.

A competent psychologist regularly visits a personal specialist

You can become a good specialist through years of hard practice. This is a long process, do not rush it, otherwise you can harm your clients. Psychological work requires a high level of responsibility.

What qualities are required?

Tactfulness, the ability to empathize, and listen, of course, will be very useful to a future specialist. But intelligence and professionalism are the main characteristics necessary for effective work. In addition, in order to study a huge amount of general and specialized literature and absorb the information received, you need to have excellent memory, perseverance, logical thinking and willpower.

This work often leads to emotional stress. Therefore, a person who has connected his life with this profession must be able to abstract himself and isolate himself from the problems of patients. Otherwise, depression is inevitable due to mood swings, poor sleep and lack of rest. A psychotherapist must have good psychological and physical health.

Empathy is a feeling that is needed to work as a psychologist. The ability to understand your interlocutor and truly empathize with him is invaluable. A good specialist is distinguished by tolerance, he is always restrained, and has complete control over his emotions.

To learn how to help people with psychological problems, you should read more, constantly observe those around you and work hard. This doctor, like no one else, must understand that the missing skills must be developed.

What kinds of psychologists are there?

There are several varieties of this profession. Specialists in this field deal with a variety of problems and use appropriate techniques suitable for achieving certain goals.


His job is to help adults understand what is happening to their children. How can they overcome the difficulties that arise in communicating with him, how to establish contact and have a beneficial influence.

The pediatric doctor involves not only the child, but also his parents in the therapeutic process. All his activities in this case are aimed at identifying problems and the causes of their occurrence. He perfectly understands the psychological characteristics of children’s development, knows everything about the age-related crises that absolutely every little person goes through. After all, the psyche of children is completely different, so a special approach to such patients is needed.


As a rule, he works in educational institutions, where he observes the development, adaptation and behavior of his students. Qualified psychological assistance is very important during this period. Parents themselves are not able to cope with the numerous difficulties that inevitably arise at a young age.

The leading goal of an educational psychologist is to ensure the mental health of students. It helps them develop in the right direction, taking into account individual character traits. Corrects the realization of creative potential, stimulates interest in various social spheres. His responsibilities include ensuring a favorable climate for the development of children.


This specialist devotes most of his time not to research work, but to practice. He is in constant contact with military personnel and their loved ones, so he is well versed not only in his profession, but also has the necessary knowledge about the life of officers and soldiers. It carries out its activities through constant monitoring, conducting questionnaires, testing, surveys and analyzing the information received.

Psychologist Daria Milai

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This is a very responsible specialization. The distinctive features of such a doctor are restraint and the ability to retain information. Every day he has to solve many questions and tasks, because the duties of a military psychotherapist include:

  • psychological selection of those wishing to enter the service;
  • development of methods that help strengthen discipline and patriotism;
  • adaptation and rehabilitation of soldiers returning from the combat zone;
  • training those who are about to go to hot spots;
  • resistance to negative influence from outside that personnel may be exposed to;
  • conducting consultations for military personnel and their relatives.


This profile requires additional medical education. It is necessary for working with psychosomatics and providing assistance to physically ill patients. This doctor is knowledgeable in the field of pathopsychology and is able to diagnose mechanical disorders. His responsibilities include:

  • carrying out work aimed at restoring health;
  • elimination of deviations and difficulties in personality development;
  • training physicians in aspects of social psychology and deontology;
  • assessing the clients' condition and the effectiveness of the treatment interventions involved;
  • conducting psychodiagnostic studies and monitoring patients who are susceptible to various types of disorders.

Topics for 12 sessions of the full course:

— “ First contact with the child, first meeting with the parents: collecting anamnesis, building a working alliance, primary diagnosis.” For ourselves, let's work on our inner child and our childhood relationships with parents.

— “ Access to unconscious material in children, adolescents, adults at various age levels” Let’s work through our childhood microtraumas for ourselves.

“Psychotherapy of fear and aggression” Let’s react to our aggression and work through personal fears.

— «Psychotherapy of sexual manifestations of children and work with adolescent problems,

the search for identity, independence and separation.” Plus we will work on sexuality and the teenage crisis.

— “ Working with the child’s family, school (kindergarten) and other social environment.” For ourselves, we will see our role in the family, the roles of our loved ones (including children) and correct the mistakes of upbringing.

“Psychotherapy of psychosomatic disorders” Let’s communicate with our own body and see how our life’s problems are reflected in us, at the bodily level.

“The importance of the first year of a child’s life in the formation of neurotic and psychotic symptoms. Theories of early development. Psychotherapy for early developmental deficits” We will find out what mistakes a mother can make in the first year of a child’s life and how to correct them at an older age.

— “ Psychotherapy of psychotic disorders” We will learn how to distinguish psychosis from neurosis and how not to lead a child to a psychotic disorder. Let's strengthen the core of our personality.

“Diagnostics of a child’s play, projective methods for diagnosing the level of development and psychological state of a child.” Let’s diagnose ourselves, clients, loved ones, our children and learn to read children’s drawings like an open book.

“All types of group trainings and group psychotherapy with children, adolescents, adults ” We will work on our relationships in groups and teams, and receive feedback on our behavior in groups. And we will learn to influence groups of people, to conduct group forms of psychological work.

“Psychotherapy of traumatic experiences and their consequences” We will learn everything about PTSD and what should and should not be done with traumatized clients, we will work through our “traumas.”

“Psychotherapy of crisis conditions, psychotherapy of losses, crisis intervention.” Let's work through our separations in life, and leave our study group!

Main responsibilities

There are advantages and disadvantages to this work. The main disadvantages are the constant tension and stress that inevitably arise when communicating with patients. You should not forget about them if you want to become a practicing psychologist. The specialist's activities include:

  • various tests carried out to determine the personal characteristics of clients;
  • psychological trainings;
  • consultations in difficult life situations;
  • analysis of the influence of social, professional and other factors on behavior and thinking;
  • studying the reasons resulting from the unsatisfactory condition of patients;
  • therapeutic conversations, individual counseling;
  • assistance in adaptation (at a new place of residence, in a different team).

How to become a family psychologist-consultant

This is not an easy task. After all, you have to work not with one person, but with entire families, the relationships in which are developing inappropriately. To competently help them get out of difficult situations and cope with numerous problems, a liberal arts education will not be enough. You'll have to constantly practice. It is better to start gaining experience while still a student. Various programs for volunteers that are aimed at helping people in difficult situations can contribute to their development. It wouldn’t hurt to take advanced training courses in the field of family psychology.


Kulikov Gleb Egorovich - Director, Business Trainer, Coach, Doctor, Psychologist, Hypnotherapist.

It is now not difficult to obtain the education of a psychologist, BEING a psychologist is already more difficult (to be, and not to appear/be called), and becoming a highly paid psychologist is a whole “Zen task”!

I will deliberately not introduce the exact characteristics of the concept of “highly paid”, so as not to limit the healthy ambitions of some colleagues or confuse others. Let’s limit ourselves to one important criterion: highly paid labor is the level of professional income that is at the upper limit of the earnings range in your region in a specific professional niche per unit of time (hour, session, training day, month, year). Ideally, your earnings determine the upper limit of earnings for the entire sphere.

There are currently many ways to make money as a psychologist:

  • personal consulting/coaching
  • group (team) consulting/business coaching
  • teaching: trainings, seminars, master classes, webinars, information products
  • supervision of novice psychologists
  • writing books
  • etc.

You can choose one path, you can be multifaceted and fruitful and combine everything, but before that it is important to determine: can you even BE a psychologist?

How to become a consultant

First of all, you need to take care of getting basic education in this area. Then you need to undergo additional training at an institution that trains counseling specialists. Remember, obtaining this specialization requires regular practice. You should start training first of all on yourself, identifying and considering your own problems.

Face-to-face consultation

What are the features and advantages of face-to-face consultation?

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Skype consultation

What are the features and benefits of Skype consultations?

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Only after all the techniques have been worked out and brought to perfection can you find a job. Over time, the level of professionalism will increase, which will make it possible to think about private practice.

How to become a psychotherapist without medical help. education

The professional development of a psychologist can occur according to two branches of training: medical and humanitarian. It is enough for a general specialist to be a humanist. He will be able to work in a school, kindergarten, private company or research institute, that is, consult, provide psychological support, but not correct mental disorders. Only an educated physician can be an employee of healthcare institutions.

Where to look for work

A certified specialist is in demand in many fields. Medical clinics, psychological assistance services, private and municipal educational institutions - this is the main field of activity of a psychologist. In addition, many large companies today have psychologists on staff. They organize and conduct business trainings to raise corporate spirit, unite the team, and motivate employees. Such specialists work in HR departments and act as personal coaches for entrepreneurs. Due to their ability to predict people’s behavior, they are also in demand in marketing, as they can direct the company’s activities to generate greater profits.

I want to be a psychologist: where to start self-study

To master psychology, you need to learn to feel people. This skill is honed over years and strengthened through practice. It is based on three main parts of conversation:

  1. Personal space that every patient visiting a doctor has. Of course, no one likes it when someone else tries to get into it, especially by actively imposing their point of view. A competent specialist is obliged to establish a trusting relationship with the client and only then penetrate his territory.
  2. Non-verbal. Not everyone is able to easily open up and immediately tell everything about themselves that is needed for further therapy. Some may deliberately provide false information out of fear of their true nature. In such situations, the psychologist resorts to facial expressions and gestures, which can tell a lot about a person. Noticing nonverbal manifestations, he changes his own behavior to make the conversation comfortable for the patient.
  3. Listening skills. This is the most important skill needed to provide psychological support. Sometimes people come to an appointment just to talk, to express their emotions, to talk about what is painful.

Ethical side of the issue

The work of a psychologist/trainer/coach involves working closely with the inner world of another person, so this interaction should be as ethical, environmentally friendly and effective as possible (the so-called financial ethics - fulfilling contractual obligations with the client).

It happens that you meet psychologists who do not have any deep interest in other people at all; there are personal growth coaches who call their students “pigs” behind their backs, etc. Such people come into the profession for any motive, just not for the sake of helping others.

Illustration from life:

A girl came to the appointment with complaints of sexual harassment from another psychologist (not some self-taught, but a certified Gestalt therapist, trainer of training groups in Gestalt therapy). It turned out that when this pretty client came to him because her fiancé had abandoned her on her wedding day, the “psychologist” couldn’t find anything better than to ask her to lie down on the sofa, lie down next to her and start stroking her breasts with the words: “It’s okay, We’ll just work on your sexuality now”...

The client immediately ran away from him, but this was enough to put her in a state of shock.

The motto is: “Come to a bad psychologist with one problem and get a second one for free!”

Check yourself for lice:

- why do I want to be a psychologist?

— in which direction of psychology do I want to work, why?

— how long can I work for free?

It is important to decide on these questions at the very beginning for three reasons:

1. The sooner a pseudopsychologist understands that this is not his thing, the less harm he will do to other people.

2. The sooner any person, regardless of the chosen profession, determines his true intentions, the easier it will be for him to choose a truly suitable business for himself, which means he will have time to more deeply realize his potential, which, of course, exists in everyone.

3. People feel very well what kind of “specialist” is in front of them, and therefore there are very rare cases when pseudo-psychologists manage to earn a lot of money from people.

I am sure that for many psychologists their profession is a calling. While living “helping others” it is very important not to forget about yourself. Decent payment for your work is one of the ways to maintain internal ecology.

The moment you work with a client, you:

  • don't see your family
  • don't help your loved ones
  • don't pay attention to your health
  • waste another hour of your life

In order to overcome the “paid work” barrier that many new consultants face, answer yourself honestly the question: “How much is an hour of my life worth?”

At the same time, your level of payment should be determined not so much by your life needs, self-esteem or duration of work as a psychologist, but by the level of trust of your clients. How much money your client is willing to give you for the efficiency (depth and speed) of your work is how much you are worth.

For this figure to be adequate, it is important to compare it with the level of your education and professional competence.

What exams should you take?

If you have already decided on a profession and are now thinking about what it takes to study to become a psychologist, it’s time for you to plan your admission.

After 11th grade

A compulsory subject is Russian. Firstly, it is the state language, knowledge of it is the responsibility of all citizens. Secondly, a specialist in this profile needs to constantly communicate with people. Without the appropriate skills, this will not be easy.

The second exam is biology. It is directly related to the life of the human body. Without sufficient information about its structure, you should not even dream of a successful career.

The third is mathematics. There is no need to confuse psychology with esotericism or astrology and consider it something like entertainment. This is a difficult industry to understand, where you need to be able to calculate and think logically. In addition to the above subjects, social studies may also be required.

After 9th grade

Many colleges and schools accept students based on the average score of the certificate, which they receive by passing the OGE. The required subjects are Russian, mathematics and two to choose from. To enroll in the Faculty of Psychology, you must choose chemistry, biology or natural science.

Theoretical foundations of the 1st seminar.

  • D. Stern on the mutual regulation of the states of mother and child in a symbiotic relationship.
  • The concept of meeting (M. Buber) and contact (F. Perls). The meaning of the “meeting” and its role in the formation of personality and human development. (M. Buber and the results of research by the Stern group.
  • “Protection before therapy” (V. Zimprich).
  • Organization of the setting in child therapy (V. Zimprich)
  • 4 basic roles of a child psychotherapist
  • Phenomenological method and phenomenological observation

University choice

If an applicant wants to engage in scientific activities in the future, it is necessary to find out whether there is an Academic Council at the university.

To gain basic skills, just inquire about the rating and the level of the educational and methodological basis. The main thing is to have accreditation, which will facilitate employment later.

Anyone who wants to fully understand the intricacies of the profession and gain theoretical and practical skills is better off enrolling as a full-time student. This way, you will be able to increase your knowledge every day with the help of competent and competent teachers.

Correspondence and distance learning

Distance learning methods are quite popular. But you need to understand that they are more relevant in terms of self-development. By giving them preference, you should not count on receiving a full education.

Already working applicants will benefit from the opportunity to obtain a specialty without interrupting their work activities. It will be necessary to interrupt it only for the duration of the sessions.

Ask a question

Pros and cons of the profession

Often the decision to enroll in the Faculty of Psychology is made thoughtlessly. Not everyone understands the true essence of the things that they will face. Students often swallow information from textbooks without taking them seriously, but in vain. Before you finally decide, you should consider all the pros and cons of future activities.


  • interesting work from the point of view of science and practice;
  • the opportunity to help people;
  • likelihood of becoming successful;
  • high income;
  • a way to understand yourself.


  • low respectability;
  • low salaries for entry-level specialists;
  • tension, stress;
  • lack of budget places in universities.

I want to become a psychologist: where to start my career

First of all, find a job in kindergartens, schools, social and psychological institutions, as this is a suitable start for young people. In the process of activity, diagnostics, correction, and prevention are carried out (you can develop your own methodology over time).

A person with the appropriate education will find a place in a hospital, clinic, dispensary or medical center. His responsibilities will depend on this.

Large trading companies are in demand for specialists who are able to develop corporate culture, control the team building process, assess the personal qualities of staff, and prevent conflict situations.

In addition, there is always a use for a psychotherapist in law enforcement agencies and military units.


Depends on the ability of the psychologist himself to constantly improve and grow in the professional field, to expand the skills and techniques used. Its demand also plays a significant role. In the company, with due diligence, he will be able to rise from the ranks of an ordinary employee to the deputy head of the personnel department. If everything goes well, over time it will be possible to open your own office to provide psychological support to the population. All this is possible only with the necessary education and a tireless desire to constantly improve.

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