Lately I’ve been coming across a lot of therapists asking what they can do with their careers if they no longer want to do counseling. It’s a valid question. There’s definitely more to professional development than just sharpening your clinical skills, and people often forget that when it comes to the psychology and social work field. Leading, team-building, and administrative skills are also important.
A bigger issue is that a lot of therapists get burned out. It’s really not just therapists either. This is an issue in any profession that does direct-client care. There are similar issues with teachers, doctors, and lawyers. Direct-client care is hard on any professional long term. Even after just 5 years in the field, a lot of therapists are finding they need to do something different but don’t want to ax their career completely. Well, you’ll be happy to find that there are some options for you!
Probably the most obvious move is to go into management. Becoming a supervisor or director will help you to start developing those administrative skills I talked about earlier and is the natural progression to being a more well-rounded professional. You can use those clinical skills you’ve acquired to help other therapists do their jobs better. Of course, this involves climbing the career ladder and some find that difficult or impossible.
Another option is to work for the insurance companies. You know when you have to submit treatment plans and other paperwork to the insurance companies? Well, they need licensed therapists to review that paperwork. They usually pay pretty well too. Often times there are opportunities to get into management and grow within the company.
Let’s talk about some so-call “sister professions”. One of these is human resources. You can get a certificate in HR Management in just a year and having a Masters in Psychology is seen as a plus. The pay is much better as well. Much of the work is very similar, including privacy protection, handling crises, and many counseling skills.
Another sister profession would be admissions counseling at a college. These colleges often want you to have a Masters in Psychology or Social Work. If you have done school counseling or worked at a college, that will be a plus. Actually, higher ed provides a lot of opportunities for a career change with positions in student life, career counseling, and so-called wellness programs. Although you’re not going to need any additional schooling to make this job change, the only kicker is that a lot of these institutions want you to already have experience.
The next option I’m going to suggest is more of a stretch. It is the world of advising. There are many different kinds of advisors and having a Masters in counseling as well as a counseling background is a plus. This can include things like executive coaching and charitable giving advising. This is going to require some networking and additional schooling to make happen, but I included it because it also doesn’t mean completely throwing your counseling experience and degree away.
Finally, get creative! What are some things about counseling that you still love? What are some other skills you bring to the table that have been under-utilized or not used a all in your current job that you would like to use? There are a lot of successful people out there that have created their own job. Yes it takes work and not everyone is cut out for self-employment, but it’s worth considering.