This article, “Identifying your theoretical approach to psychotherapy”, was previously published in my Johns Hopkins blog about private practice written for my Johns Hopkins graduate students

Developing an in depth knowledge of a theoretical orientation

How do you go about developing a niche or an area of expertise? In addition to choosing a special area of focus, it’s a good idea to develop an in depth knowledge of at least one theoretical orientation. Of course, in order to do that you need a broad-based exposure to a range of theoretical orientations. In this way, you can assess which ones are the most consistent with your own way of thinking. I’d encourage you to take coursework in human development, psychodynamic therapy, CBT, family systems, humanistic approaches and anything else that interests you. When you are in practice you will want to be quite knowledgeable about at least one of these perspectives. Also, the more you know about each, the more likely you will be able to collaborate with colleagues who work from divergent theoretical perspectives.So, for now, I’d urge you to get a broad-based, exposure to several orientations. And, if possible consider taking more extensive coursework and externship training in the one to which you feel the most drawn. Also, each of these theoretical orientations has adherents and those adherents have membership organizations. For example, the: Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT)

And, the American Psychoanalytic Association – Student membership

Of course, there are many other relevant professional organizations with which you might become involved. If you are a counseling graduate student, consider joining the ACA, if you are a psychology graduate student, the APA, if you are a psychiatric resident, the Amer. Psychiatric. Assn, a social worker NASW, etc. Most of these organizations have student memberships which are often very inexpensive. There is much more to say about this. And, I’ll be writing more about it in the future.

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