50+ Career Alternatives to Being a Therapist If You Enjoy Psychology But Dread Burnout

50+ Career Alternatives to Being a Therapist If You Enjoy Psychology But Dread Burnout

If you love introspection, psychology, and have big empathy for other people, you might think you’re supposed to be a psychotherapist, but you’re not sure about it, due to burnout concerns. There are many many career alternatives to being a therapist that are worth a look. 

I see it so often that kind-hearted or highly sensitive people (HSP) think becoming a therapist is the only option, even if they also worry it could get draining to empathize all day long. For some, it’s a perfect choice, without burnout, but it’s not for everyone!

This question of “what other jobs?” comes up a lot for introverts and highly sensitive people (HSPs) who can listen so well, and enjoy depth of connection, and read people so well… but they also know how they can lose energy with too much of it. You are built for caring, but…

Some people have already gone down the path of getting a master’s degree (such as in counseling or an MSW), to become a psychotherapist, mental health counselor (MHC), or marriage and family therapist (MFT), and then realize it’s not an ideal fit.

Worse, some are already burned out therapists, wondering what else they can do now that they have invested in this one known path.  🥵  I feel for you. Burnout is no fun.

The good news is that there are lots of alternative ways to express your talents and interests in psychology, depth, and helping — many of which could be less taxing on your energy and still pay well.

In this post:

  • List of alternatives to being a psychotherapist.
  • How to learn more about the ones that interest you.
  • What about the worries of choosing something alternative?
alternative directions for therapists, counselors, and other empathetic people
A turn in the road can lead to something wonderful, without burnout.

Alternatives to Being a Psychotherapist

Think of this list as only a starting place to help you brainstorm other jobs. As you read through, notice which ones strike a chord in your heart. Then, gather more information on those. (See below for ideas on how.) 

The key is to get enough information about it and to consider what’s right for you, your interests, and your need for balance and rest. (It’s not as simple as just picking from a list.)

Health care fields involving psychology 

Mind-body/holistic health care (alternative/complementary medicine)

Creative arts that can be therapeutic

Professional coaching for growth and development

  • Life coach
  • Career coach
  • Grief coach
  • High Sensory Coach – use your HSP talents to help others. (Training info.*)
  • Business coach (such as work/life balance coaching for solopreneurs)
  • and so many other coaching specialties…

Career support

  • Leadership coaching and training
  • Human resources: talent development, hiring
  • Recruiter
  • Career counseling at a college
  • Executive coach
  • School guidance counselor

Consultant ideas

  • Professional organizer 
  • Workshops and groups facilitator
  • Meeting/Event Facilitator – such as strategy planning facilitation, company retreat facilitator, etc.
  • Events planner

Workplace related

Heart-centered marketing related

  • Authentic marketing and branding (These are really about applied psychology and sociology.)
  • Content writer for a topic that interests you
  • Graphic designer, and logo designer especially (because it requires understanding the essence of people and ideas and expressing it visually)
  • Website designer for heart-centered professionals 

Social services

  • Geriatric social worker
  • Volunteer program manager in social services
  • Grief counselor
  • Supervisor or mentor for therapists
  • Case manager
  • Probation and parole officer
  • Youth counselor

Spiritual/ mindful guides

Alternative approaches to stress reduction/ therapeutic healing

Research related

  • Psychology researcher
  • Psychology professor
  • User experience (UX) design/ customer experience research – (It sounds technical but it’s about understanding people and making things easier for them.)

How to Learn More About Fields that Spark Your Interest

5 possible starting places:

  1. Check out your LinkedIn connections to see if anyone you know is doing something like it. Ask them questions.
  2. Find an online group for people in that field and consider looking around or asking questions there.
  3. Informational interviews (step-by-step guide especially for introverts).
  4. After some of that and you want to dig in a little bit more with your favorites, consider taking a brief low-cost course online to give you a small taste of it. (You can find good stuff for $20 USD.)
  5. Consider a course to help you choose your best fit, or a course to help you learn about self-employment for introverts and HSPs.

“What Will People Think If I Choose Something Alternative?”

Perhaps you think your new ideas will come across as strange to those who’ve known you as a therapist or engineer or whatever your current path. Here are some insights that might help:

* Disclaimer: If you use the link above to the High Sensory Coach training, I might receive a referral bonus from them, but I can honestly endorse their work after getting to know the leader and the program.

Picture of Val Nelson

Val Nelson

I’ve been a self-employed career/business/purpose coach since 2009. I help introverts and HSPs (like me) who want to make a difference — in a way that fits our practical needs too.
Val Nelson | Coaching | Groups | Courses | Newsletter | LinkedIn

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