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50+ Career Alternatives to Being a Therapist for Those Who Enjoy Psychology

If you love introspection, psychology, and have big empathy for other people, you might think you’re supposed to become a psychotherapist. There are many career alternatives to being a therapist that are worth a look. 

I see it so often with my big-hearted clients that they think becoming a therapist is the only option, even if they also worry it could get draining to empathize all day long.

This question comes up a lot for introverts and highly sensitive people (HSPs) who can listen so well but also know how they can lose energy with too much of it.

Some people I know have already gone down the path of getting a master’s degree to become a therapist, such as an MSW (Master’s of Social Work), and then realize it’s not an ideal fit.

Being a therapist is great for some people, but it’s definitely not for everyone. 

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

I’ll offer a starting place of ideas below.

First a word on terms. People often use the word “therapist” when referring to a psychotherapist. There are many other kinds of therapists such as massage therapist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, etc.

So here’s the big list I’ve started for you to help with your brainstorming of alternatives to psychotherapy.

alternative directions

Alternatives to Being a Psychotherapist

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

The key is to get enough information and to consider what’s right for you, your interests, and your need for balance and rest. 

Health care fields involving psychology 

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

Creative arts that can be therapeutic

  • Art therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Movement therapy
  • Voice teaching

Professional coaching for personal growth and development

  • Life coach
  • Career coach
  • and so many other coaching specialties…

Work related

  • Executive coach
  • Leadership coaching and training
  • Organizational psychology/ organizational development
  • Human resources: talent development, hiring, recruiter
  • Business coach (such as work/life balance coaching for solopreneurs)
  • Professional organizer 
  • Trainer on whatever topics interest you
  • Workshops and groups facilitator
  • Workplace mindfulness training
  • Workplace wellness director
  • Authentic marketing (Marketing is applied psychology and sociology.)
  • Content writer

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 approaches

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

4 easy starting places:

  1. Informational interviews (step-by-step guide especially for introverts).
  2. Check out your LinkedIn connections to see if anyone you know is doing something like it. Ask them questions.
  3. Find an online group for people in that field and consider looking around or asking questions there.
  4. After some of that and you want to dig in a bit more with your favorites, consider taking a brief low-cost course online to give you a small taste of it.

Questions and comments welcome below. By the way, if you’re exploring coaching as an option, here are some support options for coaches.

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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.
[More about Val, coaching, and courses.]

I appreciate feedback, good and bad. You can comment below or contact me privately.

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