Degrees, credentials and experience for career change togeriatric mental health
I am very interested in making a career change out of an unrelated profession (operations manager for a large corporate retailer) into mental health, with a focus on geriatric populations. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and am hoping to be able to go to a school in the area.
Would love to get some insight into these questions so I can better map out the path to doing this:
1. Degree/Credential: My inclination is that an MSW will be a more useful degree, because there seem to be more opportunities for a gerontology focus vs. MFT. Also, I am interested in having at least a part-time private practice, which is doable with an LCSW credential. Have I got all that right? Are there MFT programs that specialize in issues with older adults? Are there MSW programs that have a mental health focus and are also strong in gerontology? Even more specifically, I'm very interested in working with older gay people.
Of the options in the Bay Area, which are best for the above goals?
2. Prep for transition: I have done some volunteering over the years (crisis line, Shanti volunteer, briefly as a hospice volunteer), but nothing particularly recent; I've been gone from these agencies so long, I can't even remember who worked there, and am guessing they cannot remember me either. I'm thinking about letters of rec, but also general preparation to be a strong candidate for a good school. What kinds of volunteer gigs would give me a better foundation, and what's the amount of experience that selective schools are looking for? I would love to be able to apply to start in Fall 2013, and I'm wondering what other useful work I can do in the meantime.
I'm excited to make this change, and would love some guidance on how to start. Thanks in advance!