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Masters in Counselling/Clinical Psychology

rhymingreason

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Hi! I want to make a career change and become a mental health counsellor/therapist. Owing to time and financial constraints, I want to pursue a Masters instead of a PhD or PsyD. However, I’m at a tumultuous time in my personal life, where I might have to move from the UK back to the US. I was hoping to get started with my Masters through an online program (such as the ones at NYU, Northwestern or the Chicago School - do you know of any others?), but have read on other threads how poorly people have talked about online programs. Does anyone have any recommendations or further insight for me? I really didn’t want to waste time by waiting for my personal life to sort itself out, but would that be preferable to an online program? Thank you so much for your help!
 

R. Matey

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Don't do an online program under any circumstances. Counseling is a skills based profession which means you need to be regularly live observed by a trained supervisor to assess your skill and competence in working with clients. Programs that are offered online are programs are relying on the practicum supervisors to do that for them. This effectively means you could have someone with a master's degree and hopefully a license supervising you with no real training in supervision as your primary skills trainer while the faculty just pump out the required coursework.

The prestige of the university does not matter if the program is online. Brand name universities use these programs as passive sources of income. They are not guaranteeing the quality of the educational experience. The tagline goes something like: "Want a certificate in synerginistic studies from Harvard? Sure! That'll be a second mortgage please."

You're better off sorting out your life and beginning a master's program once you get here, IMO. Also, I come down pretty hard on the side of an MSW being the better master's degree to get for strict therapist positions for reasons I've expressed in other threads.
 
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rhymingreason

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Don't do an online program under any circumstances. Counseling is a skills based profession which means you need to be regularly live observed by a trained supervisor to assess your skill and competence in working with clients. Programs that are offered online are programs are relying on the practicum supervisors to do that for them. This effectively means you could have someone with a master's degree and hopefully a license supervising you with no real training in supervision as your primary skills trainer while the faculty just pump out the required coursework.

The prestige of the university does not matter if the program is online. Brand name universities use these programs as passive sources of income. They are not guaranteeing the quality of the educational experience. The tagline goes something like: "Want a certificate in synerginistic studies from Harvard? Sure! That'll be a second mortgage please."

You're better off sorting out your life and beginning a master's program once you get here, IMO. Also, I come down pretty hard on the side of an MSW being the better master's degree to get for strict therapist positions for reasons I've expressed in other threads.
Thank you for your input! I will scan through the other threads to learn more about the MSW option.
 
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Idaho Counselor

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I will offer an unpopular descending opinion on this. I advise some caution when listening to the anti-online crowd. To be sure, there are certainly some online programs that are subpar. But many programs are just fine these days. I urge caution to not all into the trap of the logical fallacy that, online programs must be subpar because other people believe they are subpar. While I personally elected to enroll in a traditional in-person program, I know a handful of clinicians who did their schooling online. They are very competent clinicians, and they publish more research literature than most other scholars I know.

In reality, the first half of the master's in professional counseling program is entirely theory-based. Essentially, you will read from your textbook each week, along with a few academic articles, and then take tests and write papers. As others note, it is the practicum and internship phases that entail the clinical aspects of this program. And while you might find a less competent supervisor in the field, you also can find some of the best clinicians in your region. You must diligently search and find supervision which will most benefit you, my friend.

Whether we like it or not, online learning is here to stay. And after the changes encountered by many institutions from the COVID-19 restrictions, I have a strong hunch that we will never view online schooling quite the same way again after 2020.

That all said, based on the information you provided, you might consider enrolling in an online program for now, and then once you move, simply transfer to a local school in your new area and attend in-person. However, this will take some careful planning! If you did something like this, then you MUST first know which school you plan on transferring to and become familiar with their credit transfer policies. Some schools do not allow any transfer credit at all, while some schools will allow up to 50% (or sometimes even more) of the degree credits to be transferred in. Some schools are happy to accept credits earned online for transfer, while some do not. Also, accreditation will matter. Some schools will not consider credits earned from a non-CACREP accredited school -- whether earned online or in-person.

So, you COULD begin your master's program now before moving. But just know it will be a bit of a gamble. You can mitigate the risks involved with this gamble with careful planning, though. As others have noted, the soundest option would be to simply postpone your plans until you are settled into your new region/neighborhood, and just do all of your learning at one institution. But you do not absolutely have to wait if you do not wish.

Others might disagree with me on this, but in my opinion, a student can take foundational, theory-based courses (such as Lifespan Development, Counseling Theories, Psychopathology, Research Methods/Statistics, etc.) online and be no lesser quality of a clinician in the end because of it. Again, this is an unpopular truth to acknowledge, but there is now plenty of research indicating that online learning is an acceptable format for theory-based coursework.

There are some reputable US-based, online programs available today. The ones you listed should be well respected in the field. (I seriously doubt their transcripts will even distinguish that they are online programs, to be honest.) If you are just looking to earn some quick foundational credits for a later transfer, you might consider some of the more affordable programs such as Liberty U, Bellevue U, Pepperdine, and so on. (Liberty offers huge discounts for veterans and first responders if that might apply to you.)

At the end of the day, you still MUST know with 100% certainty where you intend on completing your degree, though. Until you have this knowledge, it will not be possible to safely plan ahead for earning credits for later transfer. So use EXTREME caution if you go this route!
 

R. Matey

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But many programs are just fine these days. I urge caution to not all into the trap of the logical fallacy that, online programs must be subpar because other people believe they are subpar.

That's a red herring. Literally zero people said "we all believe that online programs are subpar, therefore, they are." If you're going to accuse someone of the bandwagon fallacy, please do so with actual evidence. Plenty of people on this board have attempted to advocate for online programs by submitting weak arguments based on convenience that have been shot down on the merits of those arguments.

While I personally elected to enroll in a traditional in-person program, I know a handful of clinicians who did their schooling online. They are very competent clinicians, and they publish more research literature than most other scholars I know.

I've never met a competent clinician from an online program. Do our anecdotes cancel each other out?

n reality, the first half of the master's in professional counseling program is entirely theory-based. Essentially, you will read from your textbook each week, along with a few academic articles, and then take tests and write papers. As others note, it is the practicum and internship phases that entail the clinical aspects of this program. And while you might find a less competent supervisor in the field, you also can find some of the best clinicians in your region. You must diligently search and find supervision which will most benefit you, my friend.

Online programs offer a subpar training experience because they hold practicum supervisors responsible to provide the skills training to clinicians. While outliers may be able to benefit from landing an excellent practicum experience with trained supervisors, it's generally foolish to hedge your bets on being an outlier.

Whether we like it or not, online learning is here to stay. And after the changes encountered by many institutions from the COVID-19 restrictions, I have a strong hunch that we will never view online schooling quite the same way again after 2020.

While content delivery might change, I doubt COVID-19 is a carte blanche for online therapist training programs everywhere. If anything, some content courses might become hybrid while supervision and skills training remains an in-person experience. I'd invite some TDs to help us read these tealeaves.

That all said, based on the information you provided, you might consider enrolling in an online program for now, and then once you move, simply transfer to a local school in your new area and attend in-person. However, this will take some careful planning! If you did something like this, then you MUST first know which school you plan on transferring to and become familiar with their credit transfer policies. Some schools do not allow any transfer credit at all, while some schools will allow up to 50% (or sometimes even more) of the degree credits to be transferred in. Some schools are happy to accept credits earned online for transfer, while some do not. Also, accreditation will matter. Some schools will not consider credits earned from a non-CACREP accredited school -- whether earned online or in-person.

This is an overly complicated plan when the OP could simply attend a brick and mortar state institution with an accredited program and save time and money and probably receive a better education as the faculty are expected to be experts in their field rather than simply content generators.


there is now plenty of research indicating that online learning is an acceptable format for theory-based coursework.

Citations please.

There are some reputable US-based, online programs available today. The ones you listed should be well respected in the field. (I seriously doubt their transcripts will even distinguish that they are online programs, to be honest.) If you are just looking to earn some quick foundational credits for a later transfer, you might consider some of the more affordable programs such as Liberty U, Bellevue U, Pepperdine, and so on. (Liberty offers huge discounts for veterans and first responders if that might apply to you.)

I've heard that Pepperdine is good for counseling, but Liberty is a for-profit religious institution. It is not considered reputable by anyone.
 
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biomom

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I took a couple of online courses post-licensure. They were not challenging and I got A’s for answering prompts in a forum. I had to write a response and then respond to 5 classmates. Huge waste of time and money.
 
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Idaho Counselor

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That's a red herring. Literally zero people said "we all believe that online programs are subpar, therefore, they are." If you're going to accuse someone of the bandwagon fallacy, please do so with actual evidence. Plenty of people on this board have attempted to advocate for online programs by submitting weak arguments based on convenience that have been shot down on the merits of those arguments.



I've never met a competent clinician from an online program. Do our anecdotes cancel each other out?



Online programs offer a subpar training experience because they hold practicum supervisors responsible to provide the skills training to clinicians. While outliers may be able to benefit from landing an excellent practicum experience with trained supervisors, it's generally foolish to hedge your bets on being an outlier.



While content delivery might change, I doubt COVID-19 is a carte blanche for online therapist training programs everywhere. If anything, some content courses might become hybrid while supervision and skills training remains an in-person experience. I'd invite some TDs to help us read these tealeaves.



This is an overly complicated plan when the OP could simply attend a brick and mortar state institution with an accredited program and save time and money and probably receive a better education as the faculty are expected to be experts in their field rather than simply content generators.




Citations please.



I've heard that Pepperdine is good for counseling, but Liberty is a for-profit religious institution. It is not considered reputable by anyone.
I never accused anyone of the bandwagon fallacy. I simply cautioned the OP to avoid falling into this type of fallacy. I am unsure where you connected those dots. You created this premise out of thin air. This is on you, not me.

Do our anecdotes cancel each other out? No -- the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. My anecdote stands on its own.

"Online programs offer a subpar training experience because they hold practicum supervisors responsible to provide the skills training to clinicians. While outliers may be able to benefit from landing an excellent practicum experience with trained supervisors, it's generally foolish to hedge your bets on being an outlier." -- I am a little unsure how to even answer this one. Sure, someone COULD just go with whoever for supervision. This certainly does NOT automatically mean the supervision would be inadequate. More, students could also interview potential supervisors and find one with superior training and expertise in an area of their interest. I suspect most graduate students are capable of this task.

Let us stay tuned and observe what changes, if any, this COVID experience brings to education. I suspect changes are ahead. Others may disagree. Again, I never advocated for changes. I simply said I have a hunch we will see changes. Once again, you inserted your own premise into my context.

"This is an overly complicated plan when the OP could simply attend a brick and mortar state institution..." I agree. I also advised the OP of this same fact. However, it IS still an option, nonetheless, for the situation he described. The OP asked for options. This is an option.

"Citations Please" -- No. The vast majority of US states now welcome the online learning format for licensing requirements. We may presume these licensing boards did their research first, can we not? CACREP, COAMFTE, and the CSWE all now widely accredit/endorse online programs. More, the APA has now officially endorsed an online program (see Fielding Graduate Institute). (To be fair, Fielding's post-doc APA program is a hybrid, where the theory-based coursework is completed online, while other clinical aspects are completed in-person.)

"I've heard that Pepperdine is good for counseling, but Liberty is a for-profit religious institution. It is not considered reputable by anyone." -- First, Liberty is non-profit. Yes, it operates as a very large online presence, and it has drawn criticism from some for its recruitment practices. But it remains non-profit nonetheless. Second, I suggested this in context with earning transfer credits for foundational theory-based coursework. As a CACREP accredited program, other schools WILL see these transfer credits as reputable (within the bounds of their internal transfer policies).

To be crystal clear, I offer no defense of online programs in general. (I took a grand total of 3 courses, during my undergraduate studies as pickup elective credits on the cheap.) I think there is plenty of room for legitimate criticism concerning the online arena. And I advise folks to proceed with caution if/when considering an online program. That said, the simple truth is that these programs are here to stay, whether we like it or not. Another truth is that theory-based coursework can be appropriately taught in the online format.

That all said, I remind the OP of what I said at the opening of my reply post. This is an UNPOPULAR opinion regarding online schooling options. Thus, I fully expect this post might ruffle a few feathers. Controversial new truths usually do just this. Beyond this, I hesitate to debate this issue further here, as we do not wish to hijack the OP's thread. There are other threads that already covered this debate in depth. And I presume the OP is more than capable of doing their own research regarding the online option. To the OP: you asked for opinions. You will likely get opinions favoring both sides of this issue.

Regards
 
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R. Matey

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never accused anyone of the bandwagon fallacy. I simply cautioned the OP to avoid falling into this type of fallacy. I am unsure where you connected those dots. You created this premise out of thin air. This is on you, not me.

Ahem:

I urge caution to not all into the trap of the logical fallacy that, online programs must be subpar because other people believe they are subpar.

Who expressed this view in this thread?

absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. My anecdote stands on its own

My point is that anecdotes are weak evidence because people can have different experiences.

I am a little unsure how to even answer this one. Sure, someone COULD just go with whoever for supervision. This certainly does NOT automatically mean the supervision would be inadequate. More, students could also interview potential supervisors and find one with superior training and expertise in an area of their interest. I suspect most graduate students are capable of this task.

I think you put more faith in graduate students than I do, but I certainly think it should be the responsibility of the program, not graduate students, to ensure a quality training experience.

Once again, you inserted your own premise into my context.

How so?


Then please do not cite research without providing citations. There is no evidence that CACREP-accredited fair better on any outcome than non-CACREP accredited programs.

Controversial new truths usually do just this.

Calling something a "truth" doesn't make it one. That's the naming fallacy.

To be crystal clear, I offer no defense of online programs in general.

Except you do:

Others might disagree with me on this, but in my opinion, a student can take foundational, theory-based courses (such as Lifespan Development, Counseling Theories, Psychopathology, Research Methods/Statistics, etc.) online and be no lesser quality of a clinician in the end because of it. Again, this is an unpopular truth to acknowledge, but there is now plenty of research indicating that online learning is an acceptable format for theory-based coursework.

There are some reputable US-based, online programs available today. The ones you listed should be well respected in the field. (I seriously doubt their transcripts will even distinguish that they are online programs, to be honest.) If you are just looking to earn some quick foundational credits for a later transfer, you might consider some of the more affordable programs such as Liberty U, Bellevue U, Pepperdine, and so on. (Liberty offers huge discounts for veterans and first responders if that might apply to you.)
 
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Idaho Counselor

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Ahem:



Who expressed this view in this thread?



My point is that anecdotes are weak evidence because people can have different experiences.



I think you put more faith in graduate students than I do, but I certainly think it should be the responsibility of the program, not graduate students, to ensure a quality training experience.



How so?



Then please do not cite research without providing citations. There is no evidence that CACREP-accredited fair better on any outcome than non-CACREP accredited programs.



Calling something a "truth" doesn't make it one. That's the naming fallacy.



Except you do:
My friend, I do not have the time to engage in this further with you. More, I will not hijack this OP's thread for a rabbit trail expedition. I have complete faith in the OP's ability and will to do their own research.

I respectfully propose you are conflating a handful of issues here. If we wish to debate the validity of online programs, other threads exist for this purpose. The OP inquired about possible pathway options and for opinions regarding the online format. I think it is safe to say your opinion has been clearly expressed at this point. (By all means, please correct me if I am wrong here and I will gracefully concede.) But we have accomplished in our discussion all that the OP asked of us.

That said, I thank you kindly for your engagement in this discussion with me, and I wish you the very best, my friend.

Regards from Idaho
 
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R. Matey

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My friend, I do not have the time to engage in this further with you. More, I will not hijack this OP's thread for a rabbit trail expedition. I have complete faith in the OP's ability and will to do their own research.

I respectfully propose you are conflating a handful of issues here. If we wish to debate the validity of online programs, other threads exist for this purpose. The OP inquired about possible pathway options and for opinions regarding the online format. I think it is safe to say your opinion has been clearly expressed at this point. (By all means, please correct me if I am wrong here and I will gracefully concede.) But we have accomplished in our discussion all that the OP asked of us.

That said, I thank you kindly for your engagement in this discussion with me, and I wish you the very best, my friend.

Regards from Idaho

Advising against online programs in general is germane to the thread because the OP is inquiring about online programs. You continue to make vague challenges to the logic of my arguments without providing evidence, which leads me to believe you have none aside from your own opinion and maybe some personal experience with a handful of clinicians with whom you happen to work. My position is based on APA's position, which may indeed change in the era of telehealth, but I'd be surprised if entirely online programs were to be accredited by the APA. APA tends to take the middle road on conflicts, so we'll probably see course content move to a hybrid model while skills courses are continued to be taught in person. There are a lot of nuances to supervising a practicum student, intern, and postdoc that aren't able to be adequately moved to an online experience. People in these positions (including myself) are receiving a lesser training experience. Go over the psych threads and read about this.

Some links for your information:


 
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