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I want to be a LGBT Therapist, but do I need a PsyD?

Discussion in 'LGBTQ' started by yesthisiswene, Jul 1, 2017.

  1. yesthisiswene


    Jun 29, 2017
    I am almost done with my BA in Psychology, with a minor in Neuroscience and Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies. Busy schedule, I know.

    My next step is getting a Masters, which is where I'm second-guessing what I should do. I want to be an LGBT Therapist with, preferably, no research involvement, just helping people in the LGBT community. I've looked at getting a MA in Clinical Psychology (LGBT-Affirmative Psychology specific program), but that specific program is only offered in California, and I live in Ohio. I'd move if I have to, but I really love the idea of the program altogether.

    However, I've been questioning whether getting a PsyD is really worth it. I've read that to be able to practice independently, I'd have to get a MSW, which I do not like social work at all so its concerning to me. In the long-run, I want to own a private practice, where I still see people for therapy. I'll have a BA in Psychology so what should I pursue?

    I guess my question is: what degree should I get? I want to see specifically LGBT clients and be their therapist. I want to work independently as a therapist, but it be alright to work for a company for a little bit, until I build a large clientele for myself to work solo. One day, possibly, opening my open therapeutic company where strictly LGBT therapists are hired.

    I'm really struggling to find any information for my journey so any links or resources are greatly appreciated!
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  3. linearbbq

    linearbbq Moderator 5+ Year Member

    Dec 30, 2012
    You may get some more helpful responses over in the psychology forum, but I can throw out a couple of thoughts:

    So, in most states you can't practice independently with an MA in psychology, and would have to get a PsyD. An undergrad background in psychology, however, would prepare you to enter a masters program in another field where masters-level practitioners can work independently -- e.g., a master's in counseling. That would broaden the range of potential programs for you, including some LGBT-specific online or low-residency programs that wouldn't require you to move:
    - Goddard College has a low-residency MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a sexual orientation concentration
    - California School of Professional Psychology has an online MA in Clinical Counseling with a certificate in LGBT Human Services & Mental Health

    MSW programs may also be worth a closer look, even if you don't want to do social work. The majority of MSWs go into clinical work and plenty of them do therapy in private practice. An MSW program with a heavy clinical emphasis may actually be a good fit for you.

    The other possibility is finding opportunities to build proficiency with LGBT therapy without doing a program specifically to LGBT therapy. Most of the therapists that I know who are working with the LGBT community did not do LGBT-specific grad programs. So, you might take the approach of looking at programs near you and then asking about opportunities for independent study, courses dealing with gender and sexuality, faculty with interests in these areas, clinical placements working with LGBT community, etc. -- craft your own informal curriculum.

    You could also do a non-LGBT-specific degree, and follow it with something like NYU's Post-Master's Advanced Certificate in LGBT Health, Education, and Social Services to get more experience specific to the LGBT community.
    JMoto likes this.
  4. linearbbq

    linearbbq Moderator 5+ Year Member

    Dec 30, 2012
    Oh, one more thought -- have you reached out to ALGBTICO? They may be able to help, not only with helping you find LGBT-focused grad programs in your area, but also connecting you with professional mentors nearby who can shed some light on how they got to where they are.
  5. fantasty

    fantasty Physician 10+ Year Member

    Feb 27, 2005
    The one with the CHUDs
    JMoto likes this.
  6. JMoto

    JMoto 7+ Year Member

    Jan 23, 2010
    Same, the Psy forum threads have some similar questions as linearbbq mentioned. Good luck!
  7. Topspin1

    Topspin1 5+ Year Member

    Dec 15, 2011
    Building off of linearbbq, I would look into some masters in counseling programs, as social work isn't your only option for a masters (especially if you're already not that interested in social work). There are a ton of MPCAC-accredited masters programs that would make you competitive for doctoral applications, including one program in Ohio at the University of Dayton. Full list is available at Accredited Programs - MPCAC

    I don't know much about the specifics for any of the MPCAC-programs, but I would suggest contacting the director of any programs you're interested in to see what clinical opportunities there are for working with the LGBT population. There are plenty of closer options than California, and generally programs located in any urban area tend to have clinical prac/internship opportunities with local LGBT agencies.

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