Steps to Get Started in Behavioral Therapy in Alaska
If you're an Alaska resident hoping to pursue a career as a behavioral therapist, then you'll be happy to know that there are lots of wonderful educational and career opportunities awaiting you, right in your home state. You should know beforehand, however, that the field of behavioral therapy is not something that can be entered into lightly. Not only is a job in the field extremely demanding and difficult, but working as a behavioral therapist will require years of education and training in order to be successful. Therefore, you should make sure it is something you really want to do before you pursue it in depth.
A behavioral therapist is someone who works to help people make positive changes in their lives. The therapist’s goal is to replace existing negative behaviors, such as substance abuse or aggression, with more positive behaviors and coping mechanisms. Behavioral therapists may work with adults, children, couples, adolescents, or special needs individuals and in a variety of settings, such as substance abuse facilities, hospitals, the school system, and more. Since therapists must deal so directly with troubled individuals each day, it is easy for them to become worn down or burnt out. Therefore, successful behavioral therapists are generally those who are able to easily separate their personal and their work lives.
Also, those who enjoy success in the field generally possess certain personality traits. These include being kind, patient, non-judgmental, good listeners, ethical, respectful of others, and diligent. The last characteristic is especially important since many years of school are in store for those who want to obtain the highest level of educational training and enjoy the most success in the field of behavioral therapy.
If you have considered all of this and still feel that you are well suited to pursuing a career as a behavioral therapist, then it’s time to get started. First, look at your current level of education, as this will play a role in determining what your first step is. If you don’t have any formal schooling other than a high school diploma or its equivalent, then you’ll need to first obtain an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in a related general area, such as psychology. Associate’s degrees are virtually useless until you transfer them to a bachelor’s degree program, so don’t expect to complete two years of school and then find work. With a bachelor’s degree, you may be able to find some very entry level positions, such as therapy assisting, but you will not be able to progress without further education.
Once you have a bachelor’s degree, even if it’s in an unrelated field, you are able to pursue a master’s degree. Many professionals working in behavioral therapy in Alaska possess only a master’s degree, but they don’t tend to have the very best jobs. For the top of the line positions and the highest salary, a PhD is necessary. These can be obtained in as little as five years and can be completed while working full time.