MA (LMHC) or PhD?

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by CR86, Aug 10, 2011.

  1. CR86

    Aug 10, 2011
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    Hi all!

    I am new to this forum. In fact, this is the first forum I have ever joined or posted on, so please, bear with me.

    The thing is, I cannot decide if I want to earn a Master's in mental health counseling or if I want to earn a doctorate in psychology. The former would enable me to become a LMHC, while I would become a clinical psychologist with the latter.

    I do worry about job prospects and future earnings, particularly in respect to the cost of obtaining each degree. I know that the Master's programs are not generally funded, but are psychology PhD or PsyD programs funded? In fact, how does paying for a doctorate work? I am currently living in NY, which is also where I hope to stay, if that makes it easier to conceptualize my situation. I also love school, the academic environment, research, and the like, so that is not the issue (in fact, it may be part of the problem! :)).

    Unfortunately, I also have plenty of student debt so far (upwards of $85,000), due to an unfortunate decision earlier in my 20's (I'm 25) to embark on an impractical and poor career path.

    I am now settled and confident in my decision to enter the mental health field, but I am also uncertain of the pros and cons of being a LMHC (in NYS) vs. being a clinical psychologist--on top of the other aforementioned practical worries in regards to the education needed for each.

    I was hoping people on here might be able to give me some advice or insight.

    Also, has anyone gotten a Master's in mental health counseling (or similar degree) and then gone back to school for a doctorate? Was it hard? Is it even possible?

    I hope this post was not too hopelessly convoluted or asking too much. Did I mentioned I was new at this?

    Thanks in advance for your assistance!
  2. 2012PhD

    2012PhD Psychology Resident

    Jun 20, 2011
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    The PsyD and PhD in clinical psychology is a good fit for people who are interested in careers that involve psychological assessment (e.g. cognitive/neuropsychological testing), research, consultation, and psychotherapy. It takes about 8 years of training from start until licensure to become a clinical psychologist. If you are solely interested in being a psychotherapist, I would recommend the MSW or LPC route since it is a shorter route.

    In terms of funding, only research oriented PhD programs offer good funding, but you have to have a serious interest in research and have significant research experience prior to getting in. You will need to work in a research lab and publish throughout graduate school. Most PsyD programs don't offer full funding and are expensive.

    Given your over 85K in debt already, i would be concerned with attending graduate school in the mental health field. As you know, salaries are not high in the mental health field and accruing any more debt would be pretty burdensome. Personally, i would look into psychiatric nursing (NP or RN) given your current debt situation. These degrees pay more and are in demand.

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