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Do I need to go to graduate school in the same place I want to open my practice?

Discussion in 'Mental Health and Social Welfare' started by Therapistemology, Oct 30, 2018.

  1. Therapistemology

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    I'll hopefully be starting an MSW/MFT/MHC program in the fall, with the intention of opening up a practice practice as soon as I'm able following graduation. My wife has spent the better part of the last 3 years raising our kids and will again be looking for work in a few months. So we have the issue of getting her work and my program to end up in the same place.

    But this is our not my chief concern --

    I'll be applying all over creation for programs, as will she for work. Here's the thing: We don't know where we're going to want to live when I'm done with my program. And from the research I've done (random clicking on Psychology Today profiles and the most-reviewed people in various cities on Yelp), it seems like *many* people who went the MHC/MFT/MSW route opened up shop in the same state where they went to school.

    My main question is: I'm guessing that most people end up in the same state they went to school because schools (at least the accredited ones) tailor their programs to make sure they meet state licensure requirements. How risky is it to do my program and one state and open up my practice in another? Of course different states have different licensure requirements in terms of how many hours you need and when you need to do them. But what about things like multiple interpretations in different states of different program requirements?

    Thank you for your time.
     
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  3. Hk328

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    You really just have to do your due diligence in comparing requirements in different states. Often times, there are a certain number of post-graduation clinical hours you need to obtain to get licensed as well, so that and the number of credit hours in the program should be two things to really look into. Also, I've heard that the MSW is a little more portable than the other two (MFT probably being the least depending on what of the country you're in).
     
  4. MAClinician

    MAClinician Masters level clinician
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    I am less familiar with the MFT requirements but MSW/MHC typically require minimum 2 years post graduate clinical experience before you can get independently licensed. The number of hours can range from 2000-4000 depending on the state. And most states require a minimum face-to-face number within that amount. So you will not be able to open your own practice for at least 2 years after graduation in most states. But you will need to check any state you think you might want to settle in before applying. The MSW is more portable across state lines as all MSW programs should be CSWE ACCREDITED. For MHC, some states require CACREP accredited degrees and some don’t. MFT May require AMFTE accreditation.

    As far as where to get your degree, consider saturation of providers. Some states are notoriously difficult to get the post degree experience (CA, IL for the MHC degree). Look at job postings on indeed.com or monster.com and the like to see how many positions are available and what degree is sought after. I worked with a woman who moved from CA to MA just to get post degree hours because no one would pay in CA. THe requirements from MA to RI are similar so it is easier for someone to go to school in RI but get licensed in MA, than say CA. THe main reason people Work where they went to school is because of networking. It is easier to build a reputation as someone to refer to when you have a positive history in an agency setting, especially when first starting private practice. You will build relationships with collaterals and other providers that can be useful later on. That might be more difficult if you move to a state where no one knows the quality of your work.
     
  5. Therapistemology

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    Thanks so much to both of you. I especially appreciate the note about networking - I was actually just about to post a separate thread about exactly that issue!
     
  6. Therapistemology

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    Regarding the two year post graduate work -- I was under the impression that there is a such thing as a "limited" license or "graduate" license, which is a temporary 2 year license before "official" post-3000 hours licensure -- and that, as long as I am under supervision, I can practice independently. Did I misunderstand?
     
  7. MAClinician

    MAClinician Masters level clinician
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    That will also depend on each state’s licensure laws for each degree. Some states do NOT have a limited license and only grant the independent license after hours are accrued. But of the few states I am familiar with, even with a “limited” license you CAN NOT practice independently. You are typically working under someone else’s license. You will need to find out for any states. Also keep in mind, while the MSW has the most portability, there are differences in levels of licensure. NJ has LCSW for independent license. MA has LCSW which is the “limited” and then LICSW which is independent. Other states may only have the LICSW, or the LCSW...but it still requires the post grad experience. Some states let you work under someone else in their private practice but other states require you work in an agency or hospital or other organization. You may want to peruse NASW AND AMHCA to see if they have resources about this info.
     
    Salvador likes this.
  8. Salvador

    5+ Year Member

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    Here are my thoughts;

    How can you say that you want to open your own practice without first working in the field as a therapist? Where is the basis on that?
    To have your own practice, and be successful in it, you need to develop your niche - something I fear you will not find without first going into the program first.
    Second, there are specific regulations per state that determine whether you can open your own practice, you cannot expect to open your own practice right after graduating.
     
  9. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist
    Psychologist 7+ Year Member

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    It's really not that hard to open up a private practice. Now, opening up your own practice and making money your first year, that can be difficult. But the opening of it is pretty easy as long as you have insurance (personal liability, location liability) and your license.
     

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