The career of a youth therapist is very similar to that of other mental health counselors and supporters, including social workers. A youth therapist is an individual that specializes in counseling with youths, usually between the ages of 10 through 21, in schools, in healthcare facilities, and in justice facilities or social services agencies. Youth counselors may provide guidance to youths that have committed crimes or are at-risk for crimes.
What Does a Youth Therapist Do?
Youth therapists specialize in providing guidance counseling to children and youths. Individuals have to maintain communication with many agencies when working with youths. This may include the court and social services systems. Many different people are often involved in watching after and maintaining the health of youths involved in the system.
Some primary duties of a youth therapist may include the following:
- School Counseling. Some youth therapists specialize in school counseling, working with students and others to help children realize greater success in school. Typically school counselors are more focused on career assistance, but may also help children and youths develop valuable social and behavioral skills needed to excel in school.
- Small group counseling. Many youth therapists provide group counseling. This is often based on the unique needs of the student. Youth counselors working in a group may focus on a specific type of behavior, or work with youths that have unique problems including addictions.
- Testing and analysis. A youth therapist will often work with students and other youths in a way that facilitates greater understanding of behaviors, personality, and disordered behaviors. This may require testing in an academic or other therapeutic environment. Testing may also be performed for diagnostic purposes, or for purposes of determining aptitude for school interests and for planning for the individual.
- Collaboration. Youth therapists often work with many people as part of a therapy team to help youths overcome problems. This may include a student’s teacher, an administrator, parents, social services agencies, and other healthcare agencies to ensure that youths receive the support and guidance they need to succeed.
A youth therapist will focus on many aspects of health to ensure that a child receives support and counseling to be well.
What are the Requirements to Become a Youth Therapist?
For an entry-level position, a youth therapist should have at minimum a four-year bachelor’s degree. Your bachelor’s degree should be related to social work, psychology or counseling. However, most states usually require a master degree in counseling or a similar field. There are specific programs a therapist can focus on, to learn more about group counseling, individual counseling, and school counseling and testing. Most programs offer a practicum and/or internship for youth therapists to practice their skills on the job, under supervision.
Skills and Qualities
Youth therapists will need to have a desire to work with children of all ages. Experience working with children can certainly be helpful to youth therapists. Among the core skills of youth counselors include the following:
- Compassionate Nature. A youth counselor will have to work with children of all ages, and in many different settings, most of which are trying and stressful. The ability to remain compassionate and caring in this environment is essential to students and youth counselors.
- Interpersonal and Communication Skills. Most youth counselors have exceptional communication and interpersonal ability so that they can work in diverse environments. These include working with many different students. Most will work with clients and students that require ongoing support and excellent working relationships.
- Listening Ability. A youth therapist will have exceptional listening ability. They will provide youths with their full attention. Parents may also need time to consult with youth therapists. Thus having excellent listening skills, and the ability to remain flexible whether working with children or adults will be important.
- Speaking Ability. Youth therapists must have the ability to communicate clearly and effectively with students and other individuals, including children of varying ages, parents, administrators, and sometimes advocacy agencies. Thus, having a clear and focused ability to speak well, and comfort in social settings, will help a youth therapist excel. Learning how to speak in ways that are at the level of the person that the therapist is talking to is also important.
How Much Does a Youth Therapist Make?
Youth therapists can work in many settings, including in schools, social services agencies, with courts and in independent practice. According to SimplyHired, the average salary of a youth therapist is $47,000 (April 2015). The type of wage an individual makes will vary partly based on the location they work at. Thus, it is imperative a youth therapist consider his or her career coals, and salary expectations.
What is the Job Outlook for Youth Therapists?
The overall employment of youth therapists may rise as enrollments in educational facilities rise. Colleges have a need for school counselors and related professionals to help advice students. State and local governments however, will need youth therapists depending on their overall financial status and the state of the economy.
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