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Clinical vs. Social PhD

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by PsycFan, Dec 29, 2008.

  1. PsycFan

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    Why I lean toward clinical:

    The clinical PhD seems great because it gives you the option to teach, research, and treat. Social only gives you the option to teach and research (or go into industry).

    It seems to have more prestige.

    Why I lean toward social:

    I have no idea if I want to treat.

    Clinical is more competitive to get into than social.

    I'm not interested in studying any extreme psychological disorders. My interest is in close relationships, specifically dating/marriage. I find more social psychologists than clinical psychologists studying that.

    What to do?

    I feel like what I want is a social psychology degree with the ability to treat.

    What would be the best degree for me??
     
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  3. Marissa4usa

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    If you want to treat then you will need to get a degree in clinical psych. However, and this would be the long route and hence a waste of time since you already know you want to treat, you could go for a PhD in social psych and then do a re-specialization.

    Another option for you, due to your interests could be a PhD in Human Development and Family Studies. This area studies normative relationships as opposed to clinical psych where the focus is more on pathology (although this isn't always true) and you would still be able to treat people

    http://www.familystudies.uconn.edu/graduate/mft/ma.html (scroll down to the end of the page for the PhD program)
     
  4. psycguy85

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    I would say that if you absolutely know you don't want to treat, then getting a Social Ph.D. wouldn't restrict you in a significant way. However, if there is even a small possibility you may want to treat, do intervention research, etc., I would advise getting the Clinical Ph.D. because it does open the most doors. Furthermore, the amount of clinical work you would be expected to do may vary by program. It sounds like a very research-oriented clinical Ph.D. program (e.g., UCLA, Yale, Penn, Vandy) would fit you nicely, as clinical work is not as emphasized in these programs compared to others (although you would still be licensable after graduating). Granted, these programs are very competitive to get into, but if you are a strong research match to faculty there, then you may have a good shot! Plus, such programs are really looking for intensely research-focused applicants (like yourself) anyway. Just my .02! Good luck to you!
     
  5. Eruca

    Eruca predoctoral psych intern
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    ...Occasionally you can find a program willing to let you do both (i'm in a clinical phd program and one of my classmates has 2 mentors: 1 cognitive psych, 1 clinical). Not sure how she worked that out though.

    Another thing to consider is that it is much more common now for researchers to do inter-department collaborations and multidisciplinary work. In my department, there are definitely clinical faculty that collaborate with social faculty (among other areas). In fact, when you apply, that could be something that may make you stand out and appear unique. Look at the clinical & social research being done within the same school and see if there is any overlap with your interests.

    I have seen plenty of research on couples done by clinical faculty (my DCT does couples research) and a clinical degree definitely gives you more diverse career options. Although you will need to have some interest in clinical populations and psychopathology. I treat couples and find it really fascinating.. But of course, as a clinical student I'm biased :)
     
  6. WannaBeDrMe

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    I second the collaboration theme of the posts! My masters program was not psych but my mentor had a dual appointment in my department and med school so most of my research overlapped departments. I have 2 mentors right now and one is clinical psych but the other is educ psych and that's been an excellent match for me. I've already talked with 2 of my application places about the possibility of continuing with the research I've done now that is sort of non-specific to any particular discipline. Depending on how you frame your lit review... it could really fall in 3-4 different areas. I like that freedom (at least for right now, I'm sure as it progress, it will become more of a burden)...

    I have heard other professors frown upon my co-mingling... and I might have even asked about it once or twice in here... but for me, it's the best possible match and has helped me feel engaged and a part of something that I might not have otherwise fit into with my interests.

    Good luck.
     
  7. Ollie123

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    I'll second everything that else that has been said, and add that you should check out counseling psychology PhD programs if you haven't yet. Overall, they trend towards being more clinically focused than a clinical PhD, but there are still some extremely research-oriented ones. Counseling psych research trends more towards those sorts of topics you might be interested in, relative to say, the genetics of schizophrenia and other things you'd be more apt to see in a clinical program. In general, you will not focus as much on the most severe pathologies as you might in a clinical program.

    All of the above are incredibly gross generalizations - so take it with a grain of salt. Mostly, I just suggest looking at counseling psych programs if you haven't yet. You might be pleasantly surprised.
     
  8. JockNerd

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    I'm in Counseling Psych and I agree with what you posted.

    I'm not sure if the post above about "doing both" was suggesting working in two labs or full-on getting two PhDs. Either way I'm not convinced that's a great idea. Working in two labs will blow your work load way up, for what benefit? Some extra experience? 1 publication (realistically, since you'd probably be focusing on your work in the clinical lab)? If the suggestion was for two PhDs, which I have also heard of people doing, I don't see the benefit this confers and since the diss is what stalls people at ABD status, signing up for two doesn't seem like a good decision. I think that's different from, and a poorer option than, really focusing like a laser on one area that's interdisciplinary, like Wanna was saying.
     
  9. Eruca

    Eruca predoctoral psych intern
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    Since my classmate has negotiated this rather successfully (she's in her 4th year and scheduled to finish in the same time frame as the rest).. I wanted to throw it out among the varied ways to carry on with our graduate careers. It's quite common in my program to do interdisciplinary work (we have a behavioral genetics certificate program, and a neuroscience certificate program) that clinical students can do. Yes, it's more work..but students elect this willingly and almost all of them finish the program right beside their classmates who choose not to do a certificate. I've seen many people navigate very successful careers with the added training, and.. many of them do it because they are sincerely interested in what they're learning. Anyway, the more info about choices the better to make a decision that works for you.
     
  10. Cigolon

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    I tend to suggest people to avoid clinical who aren't interested in the demands of treatment and assessment. Although clinical does provide a large degree of options, it is demanding a lot of time will be spent with patients either through practicum, internships, research, or anything else. My interest revolves largely around the bi-section of clinical psychopathologies and social development as well; however there is a strong urge for me to study pathologies and thankfully so. The past two years have left me working in 3 separate clinics/labs for different disorder groups and were I not as interested as I was in that particular aspect then the demands required would feel like a beating.

    There is no reason, imho, to pursue a degree (i.e. clinical) for the sake of prestige. If it's not what you are interested in, don't try to make it fit. The best thing you can do is, and will always be, to refine your interests to a specific concept and to go after that. It makes you (1) more content whereever you and (2) a more favorable candidate during application.
     
  11. PSYDR

    PSYDR Psychologist
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    1) notice that social gives you the same options as a clinical degree, except for clinical work, which you have stated you do not want to do.

    if you don't want to do clinical work, then you should not get a clinical degree.


    2) prestige is useless. if you want prestige, go get a MD/PhD/JD combo from harvard or columbia.
     
  12. hermionephd

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    Here, here! I'm totally not in this to get done with school as soon as possible... I want to be a freakin' professor... so what's wrong with a little more school? I'm in it because I love learning about the specific topics I'm learning about! I've told almost all of my POIs that I'm totally fine with doing my master's work over again, because I am! :thumbup:
     
  13. Ollie123

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    I actually have to disagree with this statement. A huge number of people (myself included) go for the clinical degree without any intention or desire to make clinical work a primary component of our careers.

    Being clinically trained still has numerous advantages, including:
    1) Better understanding of pathology that comes from having worked directly with clients,
    2) Being well-grounded in the therapeutic process can help keep research somewhat practical and avoid ivory-tower-itis (this is my main reason - I already tend to drift into ivory-tower-itis since I'm usually most interested in the "why" even if nothing can be done about it),
    3) Not wanting to close the door on intervention research (even if you plan on hiring folks to do the actual face-to-face interventions).
    etc.

    Agree on the prestige factor...bad reason to pick a program. I don't think its as simple as "Don't go into it if you don't want to do clinical work" though - the other advantages can't be ignored. Seeing clients is probably my least favorite part of the day, but I'm convinced its good for me and that clinical is the right decision for me and I'm sure for plenty of other people who don't want to practice.
     
  14. PSYDR

    PSYDR Psychologist
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    ollie,

    in your case, i understand why you would choose a clinical degree. however, in this cases it sounds to me like the OP is, like many of us, a fairly competitive person who is driven to gain the clinical phd because he/she sees this degree as more difficult. (wow, my grammar is terrible). i would question what satisfaction he/she would derive over the course of a lifetime from having a high prestige degree in a field he/she dislikes or is ill suited for.

    as for your choice: you really have to take what i say with a strong grain or 8 of salt. to be honest, i really have very limited knowledge about the development of psychological intervention for research. the majority of my research and education was spent in the neuro & psych departments of a medical school and the associated teaching hospital, where drugs were the only intervention. reason number 812: why i am not an interventionist.
     
  15. psydd

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    could a clinical phd conduct research based entirely on social psychology theories without a problem?

    can they do this only once the phd is obtained, or do you think this could be done even within the clinical psych program itself?
     
  16. Ollie123

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    Depends where they are going with it. Obviously the broader goal would be to have some kind of pathology bend to it, but many clinical folks do "basic science" work as the precursor to clinical studies.

    For example, some of the major work in health psychology right now consists of applying various already existing social models on things like risk-taking to other health behaviors.

    Now if you wanted to focus entirely on the basic science end and never look at pathology, it would be a tougher sell, but its incredibly common to do elements of it.

    That was my main reason for doing clinical - I wanted the variety;)
     
  17. psydd

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    well i would definitely tie pathologies into it, like depression, anxiety or stress factors in general.

    i just find myself falling in love with social psychological research, while still really wanting to practice.
     
  18. PsycFan

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    I'm with you psydd - i love social psychology research, but I would also like to counsel people, have regular interaction with others, and feel like I'm making a direct difference in someone's life. While I find abnormal psychology interesting, I'm not into studying serious pathologies.
     
  19. overthinker33

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    Im bumping this or inquiring what either PsycFan or psydd ended up doing?

    I am in exactly the same dilemma as you both were in.
     
  20. perhaps11

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    This. My program (clinical science phd) will allow you to have a research advisor from any psych dept if appropriate (i.e. a faculty member from developmental, cognitive, social) and a clinical faculty member who serves as your clinical advisor. The lab in which students do research is that of their research advisors, so you wouldn't have to be involved in two separate research labs. Also, don't forget about counseling psych programs if researching psychopathology is not your thing.
     
  21. docma

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    Counseling Psychology does have a lot of latitude and might be a good fit with the OP's interests. While there are fewer programs, they also tend to be smaller and better funded. The curriculum addresses normal development in more depth than clinical training yet includes training in abnormal. Many internships are in college/university counseling settings and some of those prefer counseling Ph.Ds. And while AMC settings probably prefer clinical degrees, many community practice settings view Counseling and Clinical as equivalent and there is no differential between the degrees in terms of licensure.
     

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