Experience going from school psychology to clinical psychology?

failureisnotfatal

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This may be a long shot, but this is what I am thinking of doing, so I would love to hear personal experiences from others who have done it or tried to do it.

So, my current situation is that I have a specialist level degree in school psychology. I work in a school giving IQ tests, social emotional assessments, counseling, and so on. I am looking to get out of the school environment. I would like to get a doctoral level degree in psychology. My ultimate dream is to work in a hospital or some kind of integrated health setting (which I am sure could technically be done with a PhD in school psychology, but I think will be better done with a degree in clinical psych). The main point is that I want to be a licensed psychologist with more options for settings to work in and don't want to be just confined to schools anymore.

So, has anyone gone from a masters or specialist degree in school psychology and then gotten a PhD or PsyD in Clinical Psychology? Is this uncommon? How did you do it? Did you have a lot of research experience going in? Would I be better off going with a doctorate in school psychology instead?

I think one of my biggest worries is that I have the "in the field" experience, as I have been working as a school psychologist for 2 years. So I have the experience with assessments and counseling. But I don't have a lot of research experience, outside of a few research papers I wrote during grad school.
 
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I have a PhD in school psychology and am licensed. I work in a healthcare setting and am moving to another one. I know of two people in program who had the EdS and then went back for PhD in school psych. If I recall correctly, they're still working in schools. Here are some (random thoughts and questions) for your:

1. It might be a challenge to get into a clinical psych program without research experience or interests. Those programs are hella competitive, unless you'd be interested in a PsyD. I personally wouldn't do that because you don't need 200k in debt. For most universities, the PhD is a research degree. Even in school psych, my program would turn people away who didn't care about research.

2. The school psych doctorate can be a very flexible degree that opens up a ton of doors. However, it is HIGHLY dependent on the program you go to and the experiences you pursue. Some school psych programs have more of a pediatric health and chronic illness focus - and again, you have to show interest in the research side of this, too. I am only where I am because I pursued it ferociously. A school psych degree can be limiting if you do not get after non-school experiences hard enough. (you have to monitor your competencies)

3. I'd look at APA accredited school psych programs. But just as important, if not more, is getting an APA accredited internship and post doc in a medical/healthcare setting. You may need to move.

4. It sounds like you're feeling a little confined to schools. One thing that deserves a look, without the interest in research and experience in research, would be to look into BCBA programs. If you like autism and want more options, a BCBA could be a good fit. You may be able to work in more of pediatric setting. I'd only pursue that if your into autism tho.
 
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summerbabe

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3. I'd look at APA accredited school psych programs. But just as important, if not more, is getting an APA accredited internship and post doc in a medical/healthcare setting. You may need to move.
This is really important. There was an APA accredited and funded school psych PhD in my dept and their students were always matching to top-notch internship sites including lots of nationally or regionally known medical centers.

But from what I gathered, that's not the case across the board, in part because there are so many more adult-focused internships available so the child internships are more competitive.

At my university, the school psych students I knew came into grad school with poster presentations at a bare minimum and continued to be active in research after admission.
 
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Mojito_15

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I have a Ph.D. in school psychology from an APA program, did an APA accredited internship, and am looking at clinical post docs and studying for the EPPP. My internship was in integrated behavioral health, I'm looking at post docs in that area. During grad school I took classes in pediatric psychology. From my internship cohort, 3 of the people with school psych ph.d.'s work in hospital settings. From a training perspective, I generally consider my training to be in clinical school psychology. There are a growing number of us in the field that do. Reiterating what others here said- a good APA school psych doc program with an APA internship will get you where you want to be.
 
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You can definitely get out of hte schools with a doctoral degree in school psych, as others have noted- just make sure you go to APA accredited program/internship etc. We have licensed doctoral school psych psychologists in our clinic - doing mostly assessment, but also consulting with local schools, doing trainings around the country, etc. Being able to be licensed at doctoral level opens a lot of non-school-bound doors, especially wen you are proactive about pursuing non-school experiences during your training.
 
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failureisnotfatal

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You can definitely get out of hte schools with a doctoral degree in school psych, as others have noted- just make sure you go to APA accredited program/internship etc. We have licensed doctoral school psych psychologists in our clinic - doing mostly assessment, but also consulting with local schools, doing trainings around the country, etc. Being able to be licensed at doctoral level opens a lot of non-school-bound doors, especially wen you are proactive about pursuing non-school experiences during your training.

Thank you all for your responses. This is great to hear.
I have a PhD in school psychology and am licensed. I work in a healthcare setting and am moving to another one. I know of two people in program who had the EdS and then went back for PhD in school psych. If I recall correctly, they're still working in schools. Here are some (random thoughts and questions) for your:

1. It might be a challenge to get into a clinical psych program without research experience or interests. Those programs are hella competitive, unless you'd be interested in a PsyD. I personally wouldn't do that because you don't need 200k in debt. For most universities, the PhD is a research degree. Even in school psych, my program would turn people away who didn't care about research.

2. The school psych doctorate can be a very flexible degree that opens up a ton of doors. However, it is HIGHLY dependent on the program you go to and the experiences you pursue. Some school psych programs have more of a pediatric health and chronic illness focus - and again, you have to show interest in the research side of this, too. I am only where I am because I pursued it ferociously. A school psych degree can be limiting if you do not get after non-school experiences hard enough. (you have to monitor your competencies)

3. I'd look at APA accredited school psych programs. But just as important, if not more, is getting an APA accredited internship and post doc in a medical/healthcare setting. You may need to move.

4. It sounds like you're feeling a little confined to schools. One thing that deserves a look, without the interest in research and experience in research, would be to look into BCBA programs. If you like autism and want more options, a BCBA could be a good fit. You may be able to work in more of pediatric setting. I'd only pursue that if your into autism tho.


I would actually be much more interested in a PsyD than in a PhD in theory because of the fact that the PsyD is a more clinical degree and the PhD is a more research degree. I am FAR more interested in the clinical side of actually practicing psychology than I am in research. But, the cost of the PsyD degree is a big concern to me. The debt is a concern. But, I am glad to hear about the flexibility of the School Psych doctorate. I will have to look into it a bit more. Ultimately, I'm sure I have a better shot of getting into a school psych doctoral program than clinical psych anyway. I just want to make sure I will still have the freedom to pursue my ultimate goal with that degree.

I have looked a bit into the BCBA in the past. I'm not entirely opposed to it, but in the grand scheme of things, it feels more like a lateral move to me than an upward way.
 

Mojito_15

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I have looked a bit into the BCBA in the past. I'm not entirely opposed to it, but in the grand scheme of things, it feels more like a lateral move to me than an upward way.

There are some school psych ph.d. programs that also have a bcba you can get along the way. I have a colleague who did this- OSU for example I think is one of those programs.
 

WisNeuro

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Thank you all for your responses. This is great to hear.

I would actually be much more interested in a PsyD than in a PhD in theory because of the fact that the PsyD is a more clinical degree and the PhD is a more research degree. I am FAR more interested in the clinical side of actually practicing psychology than I am in research. But, the cost of the PsyD degree is a big concern to me. The debt is a concern. But, I am glad to hear about the flexibility of the School Psych doctorate. I will have to look into it a bit more. Ultimately, I'm sure I have a better shot of getting into a school psych doctoral program than clinical psych anyway. I just want to make sure I will still have the freedom to pursue my ultimate goal with that degree.

This is a lie.
 
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summerbabe

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I would actually be much more interested in a PsyD than in a PhD in theory because of the fact that the PsyD is a more clinical degree and the PhD is a more research degree.
I had a department assistantship for a while during grad school so I got to know dozens of school psych PhD students and each one was pursuing a clinical career. Some were more interested in research while the rest were focused on doing what was needed to check that box.

Within my own PhD program, I know of many more people who are no longer working in mental health than people who pursued academic careers. And some who pursue academic careers initially, end up in clinical careers since those jobs are more available and have lower barriers to entry. There are definitely PhD programs more focused on producing future academics but they will still provide the necessary clinical training.

As you research programs, know that APA requires programs to track outcome data of their graduates, including if they get licensed, if they are employed, and what setting(s) they work in. I think programs are also required to be transparent and disclose this data but it can be hard to find sometimes. Check out program handbooks and any admissions FAQs posted online. You can also email programs directly.
 
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There are some school psych ph.d. programs that also have a bcba you can get along the way. I have a colleague who did this- OSU for example I think is one of those programs.
LSU (Louisiana) is another program I've heard of that allows this as an option.
 
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mypointlesspov

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I have my PsyD in school psychology and I ended up going with a more clinical route. As long as your program is APA accredited, you are able to be independently licensed in any state. I won't lie, I faced a few more hurdles when applying to practica and internship, but it ended up working out. I did my internship at an incredible hospital-based site and same for my postdoc.

Also, do a funded PhD, not a PsyD (unless you are independently wealthy).
 
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SaraLance

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Iterating what others have shared, here is a comment I made on a similar discussion a while ago.

 
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