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Life Path Advice

Discussion in 'Mental Health and Social Welfare' started by StartingLifeOver, Aug 9, 2015.

  1. StartingLifeOver

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    Hello,

    I have made many mistakes in my life and walked down the wrong path. I was a strait A student until I decided to walk with the wrong crowd. After having a child I've decided to start college and continue to educate myself for the rest of my life, as research, study, learning and debating are passions of mine

    I passed the entrance exams at CUNY and don't have to take any remedial classes (to everyone's surprise because I dropped out of school in the 9th grade). I was accepted into a 4 year senior college because my GED score is a perfect 4,000 so I wont have to be going to a 2 year college.

    After meeting with the academic advisers they recommend that I take double majors of Psychology and Sociology. I've also been thinking about a BSW.

    My original goal was a Psychologist or Psychiatrist. However after researching the licensing I'm not sure if I can get approval for a license to practice. I would like to stay in the mental health field so now I'm thinking Social Work or some form of Therapist or Counselor.

    I have 1 class D paper felony (meaning I never went to jail for it) for bail jumping, convicted in 2004. A misdemeanor conviction for possession of drugs in 2008 and another misdemeanor conviction of assault in the 3rd (domestic court not criminal) in 2012.

    Today I'm in the processes of being rehabilitated. I have completed anger management, parenting class and drug rehab at a Drug and Mental Health Center. I have not been diagnosed with any mental illness and the doctors are all routing for my success.

    After receiving help for my mental well being and becoming productive, I now wish to help save the lives of other misguided people out there in NYC. I know for a fact that many intelligent young people have been conditioned to be failures in life and I wish to help as many as I can change.

    Please help me decide what path to take to achieve these means based off the above information. I'm thinking;

    Path 1: BA Psych/BA Soc, MSW (to find a job), Ph.D Psych (for research and scholarship)

    Path 2: BA Forensic Psych/ CASAC-T, MA Forenic Psych, Ph.D Psych (clinical)

    Path 3: BS Pharm Sci, MD (Psychiatry)

    Path 4: BA Psych, MA Clinical Psych, Psy.D (clinical)

    Please give me any advise or criticism, I need a much help as possible in understanding the decisions I make for my future.

    Thank You!
     
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  3. wesleysmith

    wesleysmith LLMSW
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    Based on what you describe as your professional goal, I believe the social work route could suite you well. As for your criminal history, we too require licensure, so I would contact your states licensing board and speak with them regarding that issue.

    "BA Psych/BA Soc, MSW (to find a job), Ph.D Psych (for research and scholarship)" just curious, why not a PhD in Social Work, given your interests?

    As for Psychologist or Psychiatrist, the two are very different professions. What are your areas of interest? What type of research do you hope to do? In what capacity do you hope "... help save the lives of other misguided people out there ...?" Honestly, it sounds like the BSW route would fit the bill, but that's coming from an MSW student. You could work towards becoming a peer support specialist and earn experience in the field that way. Overall, the mental health field, and one's role he or she plays in it, varies incredibly depending on what route you take. I think you'd need to figure out what it is you are interested in doing within the field of mental health and work from there.
     
  4. StartingLifeOver

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    I selected PhD in Psych because I would like to ultimately have a career in doing research as I love the academic environment and would like to get paid to conduct research for the rest of my life. I've been told by many people I wont be able to find work with a MA in Psych so I figured I could fall back on MSW to find work if a career in Research doesn't pan out. Basically having the ability to have options in finding a job. From what I researched all I need to be licensed as a SW is a BSW but to get a license in Psychology I need a PhD.

    Based on what you said a 5th option could be: BSW, MSW, Ph.D in SW, I just feel like I might be limited my career options (my counselor told me what you said and she recommended I get my BSW not a BA in Psych/Soc in order to find work fast)

    My Ultimate goal would be to be a Psychiatrist, however with my record it will be very very difficult to get a license. I just wanted that title for the money, I don't believe in meds to solve issues.

    The science of Psychology really strikes an interest in me and would like to apply my research to actually save and change lives.

    I would like to research personality and social psychology with a focus on: The increasing acceptance of drug use and crime as a pass-time among poor people and how that culture conditions people to accept dysfunctional conditions.

    I would like to save people by teaching them the secret of "As a Man Thinketh" and how to recondition the mind to strive for success instead of accepting failure.

    Your right the mental health field is vast and I thought majoring in Psychology would leave options for me when it comes to finding a job.

    I have an entrepreneurial spirit and I would like to possibly open a non-profit youth center to help mentor kids in the community and set them on a path towards college and away from the street life before I die.

    I appreciate the reply!
     
  5. wesleysmith

    wesleysmith LLMSW
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    You only need a BSW to be licensed as an LBSW; if you want to actually conduct therapy, you need to earn your MSW (and your license). As for your research interests, that's understandable, a BS in Psych is a good foundation for either path (that's one of my UG degrees as well). Your interests still sound as though they could fall into either psych or social work though. It's worth noting that many social work PhD programs are interdisciplinary and require you to integrate at least one other discipline (generally other social sciences) into your work. So, if you want to examine "The increasing acceptance of drug use and crime as a pass-time among poor people and how that culture conditions people to accept dysfunctional conditions.", that combination may be beneficial. However, having said that, I do believe social psychology is quite different from clinical, so if that's an area you are interested in, you may still need to consider narrowing your focus. Of course, you have lots and lots of time and all of undergrad to find out what interests you. A good UG psych program (or even a bad one) should offer courses in personality, social psychology, abnormal psych etc. so you can see what's what, as well as offer research opportunities - maybe with your wide interests, this would be a good route. You could always minor in social work, and if you find you like those courses better, you could switch majors with very little disruption.
     
    submarine1991 and Goobernut like this.
  6. PsychMajorUndergrad18

    PsychMajorUndergrad18 Future School Psychologist
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    Hello StartingLifeOver,

    Firsr off congrats on getting to this point of your life! I am a psychology undergrad and would love to help out and contribute to this. It seems to me your research and work interests are very wide (its okay I was like this when i started my BA). I will tell you my experience just to help you see how my path has taken. I started my BA with the goal of going into Clinical Psych as a PhD. I did some soul searching and found that even though a PhD is one of the best mental health paths to take I felt empty. I then thought of a lot of different mental health careers such as Mental Health Counseling, Clinical Social Work and even Psychiatric nursing. I still felt a emptyiness about the multiple choices I had in front of me. So I finally stumbled upon a branch of Psychology called Industrial-Organizational Psych which aims to help the betterment of employees and thus helping a business succeed. Now i may not immediately go for a Phd but I am interested in the overlap of psych and business which is why I will be going into HR (human reaources) and possibly organizational development. What I mean to say is that there's a possibly of you changing your interests or career along the way. I also think that you are doing a great justice to the mental health community by dedicating your career to this subject. I am not going to tell you what is the best possible career path because its not my career and we all have different paths. But i will suggest you think on all your options and maybe try to shadow a person in each field and talk to professors in the fields your looking at.

    Best luck and if you have any questions feel free to contact me. I would love to help out more
     
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  7. Justanothergrad

    Justanothergrad Counseling Psychologist
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    One of the issues that you will run across in going after a PhD/PsyD is that licensing can be much more difficulty with a felony, if not prohibitively so (dependent upon the state and the type of felony). In concert with that is the issue of if a program will be looking to accept you given the "risk" of you not being at a stage to help people. A lot of people come out of problematic pasts (drugs, abusive relations, etc) and try to help heal people. Your expressed interest in researching social elements influencing drug use reinforce this. So, even if your goal is the same as it was when you were younger and you have merely returned to your path, the issue remains a problematic one from the stance of the program. The fact that your conviction includes an assault makes this even more problematic along with your history of arrests since 2005. I won't tell you that your idea and goal is impossible, but you are facing a large up hill battle because of the recency and seriousness of the convictions on your record. Deciding on a major is probably not the most centrally restorative feat to continuing towards your goal of becoming a professional. There are a few things that I think you need to consider strongly first. You may wish to talk to individuals who make graduate school decisions for MSW and PhD/PsyD programs if possible, and talk to local license boards where you want to practice to get a firm grasp on that. If you are interested in ONLY research, then don't worry about getting a clinical degree.
     
  8. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychologist
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    I only have a moment, but if going the PhD/PsyD or MD/DO route is what you're leaning toward, I'd recommend contacting the appropriate licensing board in the state(s) in which you'd like to practice to see if your history would prohibit you from licensure. They may not be able to answer, but at least attempting to find out would be in your best interests. Sinking all the time into the necessary training and only afterward learning that your particular history may disqualify you from licensure would stink.
     
  9. Lilypetal

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    Something else to consider is once you have gotten over the hurdle of getting licensed with a police record, getting hired somewhere will be the next hurdle. Many places will be nervous about taking someone on with a record to work with vulnerable populations for fear that they will be put under fire for it if something were to happen. Even getting a placement for internship may be challenging.
     
  10. Mad Jack

    Mad Jack Critically Caring
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    Hell, I knew a guy with a charge for dealing drugs in a school zone (he wasn't actually, he was just driving through with a bag of marijuana and happened to be black and the prosecutor threw the book at him) and he managed to get licensed as an RT years out. I'd imagine you would be fine in social work or psych. It might be a fight to get your license (he had to meet in front of a committee, etc, but we vouched for him as character witnesses) but you should be able to get licensed.
     
  11. Mad Jack

    Mad Jack Critically Caring
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    Also, for the record, I would strongly recommend that you consider the MD/DO route, as you are least likely to face hurdles from a conviction that will be >20 years old by the time you're getting your license, and you'll make twice as much money and have the greatest scope of practice. But I'm a recovered lost soul myself (more in the homeless dropout sense than the criminal one) and would encourage you to do the most that you are capable of doing, so long as you can be happy pushing yourself to your limits.
     
  12. smalltownpsych

    Psychologist 2+ Year Member

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    The question I would ask is how long have you been clean and sober? I mean this rhetorically so you don't need to answer here, but you will have to answer it down the road whichever path you take. The whole "fell in with the wrong crowd" thing would quite frankly be a red flag for me. I have worked with many mental health professionals with substance abuse issues and have been part of the termination process with a few of them. In fact, those are the only ones I have had to fire when I look back on it. By the way, none of them were actually terminated because of actual drug and alcohol use. There is a lot more to recovery than getting a degree and becoming a therapist.
     
  13. StartingLifeOver

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    Hey guys,

    I would like to thank everyone for the feed back. When the semester is over I will take the time to respond to each message specifically.

    So far I'm doing great this semester looks like I will finish this semester with a 3.7-3.9 depending on how I do on the finals coming up.

    Right now I'm only taking Gen Ed courses and my Psych prerequisites. I've registered to take the rest of my Gen Ed courses for next semester already. I see seniors in my stats class because they need the Gen Ed requirement lol.

    After learning about utilizing data bases for research I'm really leaning toward research psychologist now and I was told by my advisors that grad schools will pay full tuition and pay a stipend to students who go in for research. I really like writing research papers and studying. Working in a university would be a dream come true. Just not sure how likely that would be with a record.

    Now I've spoken to a few professionals in the field in NYC and they say I shouldn't have a problem getting licensed in NY. Only thing is I would most likely get hired working with certain populations.

    I have 3 different 4 year academic routes mapped out for when I'm done with my Gen Ed requirements. So far it looks like I will dual major in Psych/Sociology and then go for my PhD in research.

    Glad I still have time to make a final decision. Thanks again guys!
     

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