The learning path required to engage in psychotherapy is not always clear. Depending on the place of residence of each one, the regulation in the exercise of the Psychology of each country, and the motivations and needs that move us, it is necessary to find a way to enter in that professional scope going to the centers of formation that more coincide with which we want to do.

It is not only a matter of studying hard and well; we also need to find a training institution that is up to the task of becoming the psychologists we want to become. So… where to train as a therapist?

In this article we will see several advices about how to choose the centers in which to train to be psychotherapists, and the way in which we can estimate their quality.

Where to train as a therapist: how to choose where to study

Training to practice psychotherapy is not easy, especially considering the wide range of knowledge and skills needed to work in this area of health. The type of training required to intervene psychologically in patients must cover broad facets of human behaviour and the mental processes involved in them, something that is difficult to achieve without the guidance and supervision of experts in the field.

On the other hand, it is precisely the fact that there is a wide range of knowledge to be learned that makes many students feel lost when it comes to proposing to progress in their educational career. In the end, among so many subject areas it is difficult to find a line to follow to sequentially interiorize subjects that help us to understand the functioning of psychological therapy, establishing new knowledge on those that we have already made our own.

Fortunately, and although in order to dedicate oneself to psychotherapy it is necessary to adapt the line of studies to the unique interests that define us as individuals, in general terms it is possible to find a series of criteria that can guide us when making decisions about where to study to become a psychologist. These fundamental criteria are the following.

1. Check the clarity of the agenda offered

If a training centre does not provide a summary of the contents to be covered during its courses, this should be a first warning sign. Transparency regarding the type of subjects that will be taught in the classes is something fundamental, and on which we should rely to know if this option is adapted to our needs.

2. Make sure they offer quality practices

It is essential not to limit oneself to learning about theory. In something as changeable and flexible as human behaviour, much more is needed than knowledge obtained from books: we must get used to carrying out practical cases that test our skills in real time, in contexts as realistic as possible and as similar as possible to the professional day-to-day life that the training context allows.

There are centers that offer internships by referring students to other organizations where students can practice psychological intervention cases on patients. However, in this aspect, there are even better centres that allow internships without the need to go to another centre; that is, with patients from the same place where they are constantly learning. In this way, both theory and practice are better integrated , and a better correspondence is possible between what is explained and discussed in the classrooms and what is seen in the cases treated with real patients.

An example of this is the University Master’s Degree in Integrative Psychotherapy at the Mensalus Institute (Barcelona), which offers both practice with patients from the centre itself and classes and observation in which psychotherapists attend to these people who come for consultation, the students being located behind a glass that hides them (despite the fact that the patient knows he is being observed).

In these cases, several types of learning are combined that have to do with the resolution of problems in real time : one of them placing the students in the center of the action, and the other leaving them a space to consult about what they are seeing.

3. Pay attention to the paradigms from which it starts

The training centres you go to must start from a clearly scientific conception of what psychology is. This means that it is necessary for them to base their teaching on well-constructed research with the aim of creating knowledge applicable to many contexts and of proving facts that can be easily falsified and tested by other research teams.

In this sense, it is important that the bulk of the content to be learned is based on the cognitive-behavioral paradigm, which is the one with the most evidence of effectiveness.

4. Reviews your student care options

It is very frequent that throughout a course there are incidents, doubts or small problems related to the availability to attend some class, to the scoring system or to the need to contact the teachers to answer important questions.

Therefore, it is key to find out about the type of guidance to students offered by the centres, especially through the Internet .

5. Check your schedule compatibility options

Especially in postgraduate studies, it is good to value the possibility of taking these studies without the timetables overlapping with other things , in a way that adapts to the rest of the responsibilities that students with this profile usually have. For example, if in order to attend class you have to go to class at very separate times investing almost the whole day in three hours of class, this will possibly wear you out and keep you from solving other needs.

6. Pay attention to the type of therapy in which it is formed

Don’t get carried away by what others are doing: if you are interested in a specific type of therapeutic intervention, don’t be afraid to choose a centre where more emphasis is placed on that kind of training . However, you should evaluate the risks of learning only about one type of therapy, taking into account the context in which you plan to work and the amount of competition there will be. The ideal is not to lose an overview of psychotherapy applied to a certain variety of health disorders, even if the focus is on two or three specific issues.