Throughout your career as a therapist, you will continue to learn, gain in experience, and develop your own set of priorities and values within the work you do.

A sense of progress and growth is essential in order to keep your interest and enthusiasm for your work alive.

Professional Growth

Studies into the reasons why therapists choose their work and stay in the profession have shown that there is a widespread desire amongst the therapist community to continue learning.

Professional growth is one of the main areas that therapists attribute to preventing burn out and keeping their focus.

There are always new ideas and developments emerging in our field, and as part of what we do, we are always encouraging people to learn more in order to grow and develop as a person. So inevitably that is something we also should be doing ourselves.

Setting Goals

Most jobs or study courses have a set of goals as part of an on-going assessment scheme. However, for personal and professional development, many therapists choose to set goals in addition to the ones required by their supervisor or job.

These are likely to include longer-term career goals, such as working towards specializing in a particular field, and short-term goals, associated with current performance.

Setting goals as therapists enables us to ensure we are meeting our professional standards, doing the best for our clients, and meeting the requirements for licensing, such as legitimized hours. When you are working toward becoming licensed, it can be useful to identify areas where you can make the most of your time or find new ways to accumulate the professional hours you need.

By setting goals for accumulating your hours most effectively you can take some of the stress and uncertainty out of the process of meeting the license requirements.


An essential part of continuing to develop as a therapist is to network with fellow professionals. Therapists often work in isolation, but by finding ways to meet with other professionals and students who are in a similar position you can discuss issues you have encountered and share ideas.

Your supervisor or local professional association should be able to help connect you with peers who can offer mutual support and help you with issues arising from your casework, administration or professional conduct.

In addition to peer groups, there is a wealth of knowledge and experience to be drawn upon from senior colleagues and supervisors. Attending seminars, workshops and conferences will give you the opportunity to widen your network and benefit from the broader input.

Establishing Wealth

If you are considering setting up your own practice, make sure you have a business plan, take advice, look carefully at your costs before setting your charges, take a look at local competition and price accordingly.

Consider what your unique selling point is and how you can market yourself. For any therapist, self-employed or otherwise, it is worth reflecting on your views on wealth and what you want to be able to do with the money you earn.

Therapists do not come into the profession in order to become wealthy, but it is important to ensure you do not sell yourself short either.

Credibility and Success

By meeting your code of ethics and adhering to the professional standards expected in your field, you are constantly building your credibility.

Joining an association or gaining additional qualifications demonstrates you have met certain standards and this will further build your credibility. Through successful networking and good reviews from clients or contracting organizations, you can develop a reputation as an effective and reliable professional, which is invaluable in our field of work.

Continue to take feedback from clients and other colleagues; it is an essential part of your development. Testimony from satisfied clients and colleagues not only demonstrates your credibility to employers and potential customers, but also gives you the satisfaction and sense of success, which is the ultimate reward for a difficult, committed, multidisciplinary job.

Wendy M. O'Connor, PsyD, LMFT
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