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Profs who work with Police/Military?

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by sportpsychcop, 05.27.12.

  1. sportpsychcop

    sportpsychcop

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    Is anyone at a PhD or PsyD where a professor might have a strong interest or experience in working with police and military counseling type situations?
  2. Markp

    Markp Clinical Psychologist

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    USUHS. It's one place where you can get unparalleled military psych experience.

    However, don't let this dissuade you from other options. Many places have opportunities for clinical practicum experiences with both police and military organizations. I would focus more on good basic clinical/counseling training and seek out experiences that will help you gain experience with these specific populations.

    Obviously schools near large military/law enforcement populations will have greater opportunities for this kind of work (e.g. large cities or military centers). For instance I know many individuals who have completed practicum experiences with DC Metro police, but clearly going to a military school (e.g. USUHS) would not be a requirement to gain access to such a practicum placement.

    Focus on picking a school that has a research focus that meets your needs, for example if your interest is PTSD, you can approach the topic from either military or civilian perspective and still have the core skills to work effectively with both populations. I think having a focus on building good core clinical skills relevant to the populations you wish to work with is probably more critical than actually working with a specific population to the exclusion of others.

    I think an anecdotal example is appropriate here. I did some breast cancer research early in my graduate career, thinking it would have little relevance to my work with military populations. A few months down the road I learned that not only was it relevant, but the knowledge I gained allowed me to make a real difference in the lives of two retirees that I was working with. This is why I recommend a well rounded psychological education that focuses on a wide range of issues and topics. Life is complex, so are specific populations, little fits neatly into a box.
  3. sportpsychcop

    sportpsychcop

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    Thank you for that feedback. Im a military vet and retired police officer (patrol in ghetto, Peer Support/Critical Incident Stress Mngt, SWAT, and police academy instructor for fitness and officer survival). From many years ago I have an MS in forensic science, and now since being retired Im halfway through one of the top sports psych/performance enhancement psych MS programs with a 4.0 GPA.

    I was initially thinking PhD in sports psych when I started the MS, but want to broaden my horizons. Im a former Division One athlete and coach, and its been discouraging that the bulk of my exposure to PhDs, PhD students and professors, and even the research in sports psych is so far from reality and done by folks with little to no real world experience or connection to high performance. They claim they are studying or writing about high performance, however certain things such as studies done on dart t throwers and bowlers does not translate to college or pro football/hockey, MMA, wrestling, or applications to performance under stress of cops or soldiers in life or death situations (which is what I wanted to develop mental skills training for). Many of my friends in police work and military special ops encourage me to go some sort of counseling route...as you must know if you work in the field, folks do not think very fondly of mental health professionals and do not run with open arms to discuss whatever they have experienced or are feeling....I will always be "one of them" and would hope that would lead to more of an open dialog and immediate trust. It would also be worthwhile for me to work in that capacity, even if it was volunteering my time. I just do not want to go into another academic program at my age and feel like Im not getting realistic training from someone or a group of professors who have actually done legit work in the "real world"...
  4. busybusybusy

    busybusybusy

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    I would suggest starting with Insider's Guide to Graduate Programs in Clinical and Counseling Psychology, it includes all programs and subspecialties that faculty research at those programs. This could help you narrow down a list of programs that do work in the areas you're interested in.
    If you're interested in police psych I would suggest looking at programs that have professors researching forensic psych. Unfortunately, in most instances police/correctional/forensic psychology get lumped together, so you would really have to look at the websites of each of the programs to see who does police psych specifically.
    Also, not sure if geography is an issue for you, but if it is not I know Marymount University in DC has a program where you can do a MA in forensic psych and a MA in community counseling in 3 years. Many of their students go on to work for the federal government in various agencies (NCIS, ATF, VA, NCMEC etc.) and a lot of their professors are currently working in the field (most classes are at night).
  5. Markp

    Markp Clinical Psychologist

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    Ah yes, getting buy in from people in these fields is extremely difficult, UNLESS you have a reputation for being able to walk the walk as well as talk the talk. Even then you will never have instant credibility and immediate trust. Although you may always see yourself as "one of them" they will not, they will see you as someone who "used to be one of them". Your experience will allow you to bridge gaps faster and more effectively than less experienced or inculcated peers, but you will never be "one of them again". Your role will have changed, and this is something that you will need to remember/remind yourself of, as you move forward to assist fellow officers in new ways and as you assume new responsibilities. Just as team supervisors are never "one of the guys" again, the role of psychologist or counselor takes you out of that "one of the guys" role as well. It's not a bad thing, it's just something you need to remain aware of.

    As you are probably well aware, many times, in these populations the "pathology" may be subclinical or even functional. Finding training that will prepare you for this specific population will be at best, difficult. The best training you have is training that may never be taught in a specific program (or at least not one I am aware of outside of some specialized conferences for LEO/Military applications). Your experience as someone who has served both in military and law enforcement communities will allow you to know things that others simply might miss. It's flat out cultural competence. A lot of discussion occurs about diversity training and the importance of cultural competence. The work of Sue & Sue is often held out as the gold standard in cultural competence, yet in 26 chapters and over 550 pages, cultural competence regarding military or law enforcement populations is never addressed. Yet, as a minority, US Military and law enforcement members make up approximately 4,000,0000 persons, with it's own unique culture and values (just over 1% of the US population).

    You have many of the core cultural values that you would need to master simply by having served, what you will need is to learn how to leverage those values into cultural competence in the practice of psychology/counseling should you decide to pursue training. Obviously there are schools that will share more core values with the populations you seek to treat, but I think you'll realize quickly that no one can teach you the things that your experience allows you to bring to the table.

    Military and law enforcement patients, may be difficult to get into the office initially, but once you have them there these are some of the best patients in the world to work with. Often times they are motivated, sincere, and have an overwhelming desire to be successful. (Yes, there are patients who don't want to get better or who are working the system too.) Reducing stigma is a big part of the job, past credibility, that can get your foot in the door. As you must realize there are many other aspects to the job as well (critical incidence debriefing, behavioral science consultations, fitness and suitability evaluations, forensic evaluations).

    I am really going to stick to my guns here and continue to state that getting a well rounded clinical skill set is what you should be focused on. Few at the academic level will really understand the experience that you may have in this respect. The mentorship you seek from others through practicum and internship experiences, that is where you're going to want to try to differentiate your training if anywhere.

    I realize this is a little preachy here, but look at the training as the canvas, paint, and brushes... they are tools in which to create the art. What you put down on that canvas, that's all you. The skill in which you use the canvas, those foundational skills should not change and do not need to change, but rather your approach will be different.

    I realize that I have restated a lot from before. I should be clear in where I am at in my training, since my training is certainly not complete and I do not wish to hold myself out as an expert in this area, but rather someone willing to share my personal experience. I am nearly done with my clinical internship. So I am not a psychologist, I currently am working towards completion of my Ph.D. from USUHS. I served 9 years on active duty in the USAF as an enlistee prior to returning to college to eventually pursue a career in military psychology, which with any luck will begin shortly after I complete my internship here in Portsmouth. I wish you the best of luck.
  6. sportpsychcop

    sportpsychcop

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    MarkP, thank you for that outstanding feedback. Much I could comment on. The first paragraph is a good point, as even in athletics the transition from D1 athlete to coach was pretty unique and challenging (inside myself not in the realm of working with the athletes), as well in law enforcement my last three years were full time at the academy and I was not working on SWAT or a patrol unit and that was really hard (many instructors see an academy position as the dream job after working day shift in some low crime area for years, but I loved being an actual cop and getting dirty in the trenches of life whether a high crime district on patrol or SWAT).

    I might shoot you a message later if you do not mind, need to get out the door but appreciate this feedback tremendously.

    As for the other feedback, I know DC well. I lived and worked in DC area for 8 years before moving to LA. I was a cop in the area and also a strength coach for one of the local universities. I am not familiar with Marymount, but I did feel tempted a few years in a row to start the pastoral counseling MS at Loyola in Columbia, MD, as it was a part time program leading to licensure and I could have kept being a cop and coaching while taking classes. I had to move to LA for specific doctors, so that idea fizzled. I have some discerning to do about more grad programs as this is my second masters, and I need to figure out if its worth doing a doctorate (whether in sports psych or counseling related field) or another masters in some sort of licensure program to shave a few years off the doctoral route. I do not currently have an interest in research or being a full time professor ever so the masters seems tempting.
  7. Markp

    Markp Clinical Psychologist

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    PM me anytime.
  8. Blizzard1mage

    Blizzard1mage

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    I know at University of California, Irvine there are professors who have strong interests in the criminal justice system. Some are faculty in both the Psychology & Social Behavior (PSB) and the Criminology, Law & Society (CLS) departments. Several do work closely with the police and prison systems, though I'm not sure how much is more related to law.
  9. sportpsychcop

    sportpsychcop

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    Thanks Ill check that out since it is not too far from me. However there is a huge difference between working with cops and soldiers, versus working with those IN the CJ system...I have zero interest in working with juvies, convicts, mentally ill, or others IN the system. I want to help those who serve. I did a good stint of serving and was very respectful and caring to even the biggest violators in our society, extremely caring towards the mentally ill and addicts (even if they were committing crimes), but feel there is no where near the amount of support and care given to those who put their lives on the line carrying a gun for a living (not making much money and dealing with scrutiny from the media, public, and even their own admin).
  10. voyeurofthemind

    voyeurofthemind

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  11. sportpsychcop

    sportpsychcop

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    Thanks Im gonna check it out now!

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