If you love introspection, psychology, and have big empathy for other people, you might think you’re supposed to become a psychotherapist, but you’re not sure about it. 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. You are built for caring, but…
Some people have already gone down the path of getting a master’s degree to become a psychotherapist, 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 some ideas below to help you discover alternatives to psychotherapy, as well as address how to explore your options and what about the worries that come up about a transition.
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 strike a chord inside 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
- Occupational therapist (OTs can specialize in child development, sensitivities, neuroatypical, and more)
- Child development/ early childhood intervention specialist
- Speech and language therapist/ pathologist (all kinds of communication issues)
- Sleep specialist
- Neuropsychologist/ neuropsych evaluations
- Personal trainer
- Wellness coach
- ADHD counseling or coaching
- Careers in neuroscience
Mind-body/holistic health care (alternative/complementary medicine)
- Massage therapist
- Rosen Method Bodywork practitioner (bodywork and emotional work combined)
- Shiatsu massage
- Energy medicine practitioner, such as Reiki
- Somatics professional (as an adjunct to various types of therapy and body work)
- Yoga therapy
- Ayurvedic practitioner
- Other complementary, alternative, and integrative health practitioners
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
- Grief coach
- High Sensory Coach – use your HSP talents to help others. (Training info.*)
- and so many other coaching specialties…
- Leadership (Yes, introverts make great leaders and it’s so much about people skills.)
- Leadership coaching and training
- Organizational psychology/ organizational development
- Human resources: talent development, hiring, recruiter
- Executive coach
- Business coach (such as work/life balance coaching for solopreneurs)
- Career counseling at a college
- Professional organizer
- Trainer on whatever topics interest you
- Workshops and groups facilitator
- Workplace mindfulness training
- Workplace wellness director
- 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)
- 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
- Interfaith chaplain and/or spiritual direction
- Intuitive guide
- Psychosynthesis (blending psychology and spirituality)
- Meditation teacher
Alternative approaches to stress reduction/ therapeutic healing
- HeartMath practitioner or trainer
- Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) practitioner
- Inner Bonding practitioner
- Focusing facilitator
- KonMari consultant (decluttering to spark joy)
- 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:
- Informational interviews (step-by-step guide especially for introverts).
- Check out your LinkedIn connections to see if anyone you know is doing something like it. Ask them questions.
- Find an online group for people in that field and consider looking around or asking questions there.
- 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.
“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:
- Cheryl’s story: Why as a psychotherapist I have turned my focus to reading Akashic Records.
- The Worry About Being Seen as Too “Woo Woo”
- How To Find Your Right Career Path: Myths and Truths
- If you’re exploring coaching as an option, here are some support options for coaches.
- If you’re worried about self-employment and marketing, see: How self-employment can be easier.
Questions and comments welcome below.
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.