5+ Year Member
Sep 15, 2011
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I am applying to Clinical psych programs in coastal areas, with both CBT and psychodynamic faculty, though more emphasis on the latter. I am deciding between mentors for letters of recommendation.

I have worked as a Master's level clinician for several years, doing both clinical research, and clinical work in a university setting. I have one strong Clinical Psych PhD reference from a PI, and another strong reference from a Clinical Psych PhD (primarily clinical supervisor).

My other academic/research reference would be from college, about 8 years ago... though, I actually wonder if a reference from my primary Master's level clinical supervisor, a fairly well known 'master therapist', might be a better recommendation than a PhD Social psychologist from my senior thesis research in college?

One other option is to request a letter from a Master's level lecturer/therapist from graduate school, who wrote a stellar letter about my writing and academic work. This would be the only actual graduate school letter option. Perhaps less fitting? I have a lot more familiarity with my post Master's PIs and supervisors.

Thanks for any thoughts on this!

PS: The Master's level clinical supervisor would be my only letter from a woman. Would be nice to have a gender balance (how much does this matter though?)
Last edited:
Apr 11, 2012
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  1. Psychologist
What kinds of programs are you applying to? The CBT versus dynamic faculty is less important than (a) letter writers who know you well and (b) if you are applying to research programs, letter writers who can speak to your capacity for research. I'd prioritize (a) over (b), honestly, because people who know you well and can speak in detail about your qualifications will be generally better letters. That said, many people come into clinical PhD programs with no clinical experience at all, and having clinical experience isn't necessarily a will be for some PIs but less so for others. What I want to know as a PI is basically this: is this person a jerk? Would I be able to work with this person for 5+ years? Is this person reasonably independent and motivated such that they can do the things I need them to do and push their own projects through without my having to micromanage them? Can they THINK well and write well and thus help move research forward? Notice that none of these are clinical questions, though clinical skills can certainly bear upon the answers.
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