Pre-Licensed Therapists Most Important Years

Any good therapist will tell you, we all are in the “still learning” phase. . To my pre-licensed colleagues, and yes, you ARE colleagues, I say this: These are the most important years of your career. Get the most out of them. As pre-licensed therapists, your work now will influence you for the rest of your practice.


As you finish your coursework and accrue the hours necessary to qualify for exams, you are in the vague and often undervalued world of the pre-licensed therapist. You are likely working for little or no compensation, with high-need clients and varying degrees of support. The learning curve in this chapter of your life is steep and sometimes overwhelming.

You won’t be making a fortune in your pre-licensed years, but you are providing a valuable service, and often to those who would not otherwise get help. Just because there isn’t a fat paycheck attached to the time you spend in practice doesn’t mean you aren’t being “paid”. Your trainee- and internships are the greatest classroom in the world. Without good training and adequate supervision, you won’t be able to take advantage of that. It’s likely that you are not paid during these hours – so consider the time you spend learning from colleagues, in continuing education classes and hours of supervision your “payment”. Are you being paid enough? If not, make some noise – your supervisor can’t know what you need; agency directors often scramble to provide enough training but don’t always know what pre-licensed therapists are looking for; and support is something you must actively seek out.

Seek Advice And Training Opportunities

Talk to your supervision team about your concerns, speak up about your desire for training, and actively seek out and join process and support groups. Many terrific, licensed clinicians will offer our newer colleagues discounted services to help you along the way.   Don’t waste a moment of these valuable years – they will form you as a therapist and as a person. Time and energy invested now will pay you huge dividends, so that you will one day be the therapist and mentor to your younger colleagues that you aspire to be.

Posted by Pamela Suraci