masters in psychology, career in general

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by thismedicinelife, Dec 6, 2018.

  1. thismedicinelife

    2+ Year Member

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    hi all,

    Hoping for any advice/knowledge since, since I don't really know much about the psychology world.
    I'm a pulmonary critical care fellow in southern california. My SO has been doing the whole hollywood acting thing for many years (mainly family pressures for it), but really hates it and plans to do what she really has been wanting for awhile which is psychology. It's very exciting! But also scary since no idea of the process. Particularly, at this point she wants to end up doing counseling with a strong focus on substance abuse or deprssion (so i guess clinical psychology?). She went to a good univ program for undergrad, majoring journalism and is going to take GREs.

    1) What are the general thoughts of MA in psychology? I know most places seem to be just PhD, however she still needs more practical experience before going that route I think.

    2) If counseling (substance abuse) is the ultimate goal, are there other routes?

    3) How competitive are PhD places. Seems pretty competitive, need good GPA, GRE score, and loads of practical experience / research pubs?

    4) Any recs for places in Southern Californnia? I was reading about Pepperdine MA in pschology, some mixed reviews.

    this is definitely alot, so i really appreciate any advice. this is so foreign to me but very exciting!

    thanks again.
     
  2. Temperance

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    What are your significant other's ultimate career goals? If she is interested in doing primarily therapy and has no interest in other aspects that require the doctoral degree (e.g., assessments, research, teaching), then a master's degree that would lead to licensure should be sufficient. Depending on the state where she wants to practice, there may be several options. Since you're asking about California specifically, I can name three:
    1. Marriage and family therapist: Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist - Board of Behavioral Science
    2. Professional clinical counselor: Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor - Board of Behavioral Sciences
    3. Clinical social worker: https://www.bbs.ca.gov/applicants/lcsw.html
    If the career she wants involves a Ph.D., then I would strongly suggest acquiring research experience as opposed to "practical experience". Ph.D. programs in clinical and counseling psychology are extremely competitive with 100-600 applications for ≤ 10 slots at a fully funded, university-based program. It is increasingly common for applicants to have several conference presentations and even publications, and many will have one or more years of full-time research assistantships. Some programs post the average undergraduate GPAs and GREs of matriculants on their websites; an example is UCLA (last page). Stay away from unfunded programs; $150,000+ of debt is not worth the pay that a psychologist can earn on average.
     
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  3. OP
    OP
    thismedicinelife

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    First, I just want to say thank you so much for your knowledge and advice on the subject. It's a relief to at least have a framework in mind, as well as the eye-opening route of PhD. Those 3 websites in particularly are a great resource.

    Ultimate career goals, likely clinical counseling based, ideally young adults. Something akin to being a counselor at a college health center would be a dream of hers. I'll confirm and update it if it changes.
     
  4. jdawg2017

    jdawg2017 Doctoral Student of Clinical Psychology
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    Ditto to everything @Temperance said. If your SOs goals are just clinically focused, there is no reason to pursue a PhD. Given their acting career, it could take 2-4+ years to gather enough research experiences in clinical psychology labs just to be competitive for the best PhD programs. Good GRE and grades are not enough; ideal applicants have some publications and/or poster presentations to demonstrate their research productivity.

    I agree with the 3 routes presented for the state of California. A MA in Psychology (general) would not lead to licensure, and is a common way for non-traditional students to get a food in the game for getting into research programs down the line.

    This part is IF your SO wants to go more research: Given that it sounds like your SO has no background in psychology (majoring in journalism), they will likely want to use a 2 year research-focused MA to get some coursework and early research experiences in psychology. This could result in a thesis (may be publishable... depends) and can open some doors for research assistant (RA) positions. After graduating from the MA, I would advise being an RA for 2 years and get another pub or two, particularly in substance abuse if this is something your SO cares about. Then, apply for fully funded PhD programs and see what happens. The PhD will take 5-6 years to complete, including 1 year of APA internship (like residency, kind of...), and then probably 2 years of a clinical post-doc. BOOM, you are licensed to practice, but that's a LONG journey.

    So, tl;dr, probably the masters (non-general psychology) degree options are a) shorter time-wise and b) good if clinical practice is the end goal.
     
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  5. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist
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    Not quiet this cut and dry, especially for areas like neuro, where being a good consumer of research and knowing how to evaluate it is paramount to being a good clinician. But yeah, if they just want to do therapy all day every day, just go for a masters level degree. That's what people are mostly hiring nowadays anyway.
     
  6. OP
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    thismedicinelife

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    Awesome, this was extremely helpful. I showed her the thread and she was so thankful for your time and advice. Thanks again.
     
  7. Justanothergrad

    Justanothergrad Counseling Psychologist
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    There are a lot of reasons that a PhD is a good clinician degree and it undersells the field to discount that outright, as often is done. If you compare insurance billable rates for therapy there aren't substantial difference between the two. That doesn't mean that is the end of the discussion. If you compare other opportunities there are differences. Neuropsychology is a great example. Comparing GS rates for a LCSW (for instance) versus a PhD at the VA also offers a difference with a higher start and higher end range possible in the favor of psychology. There are numerous other examples of this, as well as other job opportunities not as easily accessible (or possible) to masters degree practitioners.
     
  8. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty
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    I’d argue if the person wants to do therapy, then a career in neuropsych would not be a fit for them.
     
  9. NeuroPsychosis

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    There is something called neuropsych rehabilitation. You are wrong if you believe there is no therapy involved on Neuropsych. It just depends on whether the neuropsychologist is involved more in research or clinicals.
     
  10. PSYDR

    PSYDR Psychologist
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    You might be interested to know that T4C did a fellowship at one of the premier institutions for this training model. But educating him about his own two years of training is an interesting idea.

     
  11. NeuroPsychosis

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    You got lots of free time on your watch haha.
     
  12. wtfook

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    I have a friend who hopes to practice as a master's level therapist in Cali. He's originally from California but did his master's on the east coast. As said above, there are 3 options for a master's level therapist. You an either go the counseling route and get licensed as a professional counselor, go the family therapy route, or get a clinical social work degree. From what my friend has told me, the counseling and family counseling routes are VERY difficult in California. For all 3 professions post masters, you need to accrue around 3000 hours (might be more in California as they are VERY strict) under the supervision of a licensed professional before you can apply for licensure yourself. Apparently in Cali, there are VERY few licensed supervisors in the family therapy route and in the counseling route all jobs pre-licensure are incredibly low paying. It seems the clinical social work route is the most practical route that will get you to the same place. I would encourage your partner to do some research on these three options and see what makes the most sense in your area based on your family's financial situation. Supervised hours pre-licensure can be a pain in the butt if you aren't working somewhere where the supervision is offered as part of your job. Most people are unable to find it and have to pay out of pocket for a private supervisor or group supervisor. Every state has their own rules for licensure requirements. Definitely see the regulations in your state, cost of a master's program, availability of jobs for pre-licensure therapists (WITH SUPERVISION ON SITE), and then decide which route you want to go down.
     

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