How To Become A Therapist In South Africa (2024)

Becoming a therapist is not an easy task. You need to have the drive and dedication to go through years of study, training and assessment. However, with the right information and support, you can manage your expectations and make this dream come true.

How To Become A Therapist In South Africa

Becoming a therapist can seem like a long and daunting process. It’s true that becoming a therapist takes time, but it is worth it! The journey of becoming a therapist is one of self-discovery, as you are learning how to help others and also learning how to be true to yourself.

However, with the right information, you can manage your expectations.

The first thing to understand is that becoming a therapist requires training in psychology and counselling. It is a regulated profession in South Africa and therapists have to be registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). The HPCSA regulates all health practitioners including nutritionists, dieticians, occupational therapists and physiotherapists.

Accordingly, if you want to become a qualified therapist or psychologist then you will need to complete an accredited degree at one of SA’s universities followed by supervised practice under supervision for two years before being registered with the HPCSA as an individual practitioner or associate member.

Types of therapists

There are a number of different types of therapists, the most common being:

  • Psychologists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Counsellors
  • Social workers

Psychotherapists are a specialist type of psychologist, who have additional training in counselling. Some psychotherapists use various forms of treatment to help their clients resolve problems and achieve their goals.

These include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which focuses on changing negative thinking patterns; humanistic psychotherapy that emphasizes self-awareness; or psychodynamic therapy, which aims to improve emotional awareness and relationships between individuals.

Universities offering counselling degrees often require the following:

  • A good honours degree in psychology or a related field. This can be from any university and does not have to be from South Africa. If you have studied outside of South Africa, make sure that your degree is accredited by SAQA (South African Qualifications Authority) so that it is recognised here. You should also check whether your institution has signed an agreement with its local counterpart in order to facilitate mobility between universities. If not, then you may encounter problems when trying to transfer credits from another country into your qualification in South Africa.
  • Good knowledge of psychology and theories of counselling and therapy (e.g., psychodynamic theory).
  • Good knowledge of ethics – specifically issues around confidentiality, competence and boundaries (including supervision), etcetera – because this will be tested during exams at the end of each year during university studies as well as at registration sessions held by individual universities before enrolment starts each year.

Locate accredited institutions where you can study to become a therapist

The next step after deciding you want to become a therapist is to find an accredited institution where you can study the required courses. There are two types of accreditation: national and institutional.

The South African Department of Higher Education and Training provides national accreditation, which ensures that graduates from a specific institution will be recognized by any other institution in the country.

Institutional accreditation is issued by an independent body, usually an association or council for professional services such as counselors or social workers.

Do your research into the subjects you will need to study

As you can see, there is a lot of information that needs to be covered for each subject. It’s important to make sure that you have enough time and energy to prepare for the exams, as well as study in your spare time. You may also want to consider hiring a tutor or studying with friends who are taking the same subjects.

If you think this list is daunting, don’t worry! Most people find it difficult at first but they soon get used to it and find their own methods of managing their time effectively. The key thing is that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses when it comes down to studying – so don’t compare yourself with others too much as this will only set up unrealistic expectations which won’t help your progress!

The skills to become a therapist require formal training and registration

When you become a therapist, you will need to have certain skills in order to be effective. The most important of these is an ability to listen and understand people and their problems. Therapists also need good communication skills, as well as patience and compassion for others. They often work with people who are going through difficult times, so it is vital for them not only to understand what their clients are going through but also how best they can help them overcome those issues. Many counsellors have degrees in psychology or social science fields like sociology or anthropology because such knowledge can help them better understand the human mind and behavior patterns that might contribute towards mental health issues such as anxiety disorders or depression


The world of counselling is vast and there are many ways to get involved. You could become a social worker, a psychologist or even a life coach! If you’re interested in becoming a therapist, it’s important to know that there are various degrees available in different fields of study.

The key is knowing what kind of person you are, whether it be an introvert or extrovert, as well as what kind of career path suits your personality best before enrolling in any classes or programs.

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