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Masters or PhD , APA or non APA

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by kricketkricket, Jul 21, 2011.

  1. kricketkricket

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    Ok, I am completely baffled and have asked all those that I know these questions and have recieved a lot of vague or "I don't know" answers, so I'm going to try them here.

    First off, I am a 28 year old mother of 2 with a husband. Secondly, I live in the state of PA, but may or may not end up working in the state of MD.

    My ultimate goal is to work with families and the changes in family dynamics that occur when somebody within the family becomes terminally ill, or those of a similar situation. (People who's family dynamic have shifted abruptly due to unforseen circumstances that will have a long term effect on the family and its members). I would like to do private practice, and possibly work with private pay clients only, I'm not sure I want to get involved in all the insurance nonsense (I did medical billing for 10 years, ugh). If I were unable to persue this course, I would look into teaching positions.

    I graduated from Ashford University with a 3.68 GPA with a Bachelor of Arts in Psych. Currently I am on my third class at Grand Canyon Univerisity online and I am enrolled in their Counseling Psychology Masters program, I have an A in my current course and A's in both previous courses.

    Here are my questions:
    1. APA verses non APA schools offering PhD programs. The only two schools near me are Loyolla and Penn State which offer APA programs, they are both atleast 45 minutes drive and run a traditional program, I have a family so that probably would not work. Are schools like Capella, Walden, Chicago School, North Central etc which are all predominantly or entirely online (and while regionally accreddited but not APA accredditted) an option for me? Will it hinder my ability to get the job I desire?

    2. I was just informed by some co-workers that I could skip the masters level entirely and go directly for my PhD, is that so? Is it more beneficial to do this?

    3. Suppose I keep in the masters program, recieve my license to practice through my masters, and later attain an unaccredditted APA PhD, would that make a difference?

    What I want is to be a "Psychologist" , I want to have more client oriented than research oriented purposes. I want to help people, but I am looking to do private pay, or possibly teach. I want the highest income possible for a person in my state, in my current situation with my current goals and the options before me. SOOOOO...that being said, should I go for a PhD, should I skip my masters? Should I stick with my masters?

    Any guidance would be beneficial, any advice highly appreciated and valued. I am at a loss for a direction and I am looking for guidance.

    Thank you!
     
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  3. PrisonPsych

    7+ Year Member

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    Do some hunting around this forum and you'll find the answers to a lot of your questions.

    You're going to hear this over and over, so I'll tell you first: If it's a doc program and it's not accredited by APA DO NOT LOOK INTO IT. Period. No debate, no argument, it's not worth your time or your money.

    If you are limited geographically you are likely to have a difficult time getting into a program. Programs are *very* competitive (depending on where you're considering, acceptance rates range from 2-15%, with 5-10 probably being average) and you put yourself at a considerate disadvantage if you can only apply to local schools. It's all about the research match - if you don't match, you won't get in. Period. Doesn't matter what your stats are.

    FYI, online graduate programs are strongly looked down upon, even for a masters. There simply is no way to get a proper education in a human service field without human contact. And it's also unlikely you would get good quality research experience, either (something else that is essential to get into a good doctorate program).

    Take a look at the WAMC thread to see the sort of feedback people get given about their chances of getting into school and what makes a good applicant.
     
  4. cmd0618

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    Wow, you are certainly very dedicated to this! Your grades are great and you sound like you know what you want (a very rewarding line of work, it sounds like.)

    I gotta agree with PrisonPsych on this one though. Going to college online just really isn't a good idea, especially if you're trying to land an APA internship (that's the kind you want, otherwise would NOT be worth it). Online credits typically don't transfer, so you would have to start fresh for a PhD, which is very difficult as it is. But if you have to keep doing it online (as I would imagine since you are only 28, your kids must be young, going to a real-life school might be a little too challenging for your situation) I'm not going to tell you to give up. Just for you to realize what to expect.

    Another option you might want to look into is the PsyD - they are more clinically oriented (as opposed to research). However, their programs tend to be very expensive, that's a whole other discussion for another time.

    Hope I helped!
     
  5. Psycycle

    Psycycle Psychologist, ABPP
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    Get an MSW. If you're geographically limited, don't do this degree. Don't forget you're going to come up against the internship, for which geographic limitation is one of the top factors for non matching. Don't go to an online program; don't go to non-APA.
     
  6. 2012PhD

    2012PhD Psychology Resident

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    Clinical psychology (PhD/PsyD) is a fiercely competitive field from start to finish---even more so than medical school. 1-2% acceptance rates for internship and post-doc are not uncommon in our field You should be geographically flexible if you want to increase your chances of getting an apa internship or post-doc (which you will need to get your hours for licensure). Many People who are not geographically flexible in our field either end up taking an unpaid internship, unaccredited internship, or are left without a post-doc so they can't practice. Others are left unemployed. I have seen this happen to too many people with kids and spouses. You don't want to be in this boat after 6 years of graduate school.

    This is also not the right field to go into if making money is a big concern for you.
     
  7. 2012PhD

    2012PhD Psychology Resident

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    Nobody will hire you if you graduate from a non-apa or an online university in our field. APA accreditation is MINIMAL criteria in our field. You will be restricted from applying to most internship sites and employment settings.
     
  8. wigflip

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    I really feel for you. I was discouraged by many from pursuing a traditional psych PhD (despite a very strong undergrad record) because 1. my primary interest was clinical work (instead of research) and 2. I am geographically limited by family.

    So I don't want to discourage you even more, but I have to say that of the many people I know who went to grad school (I am in a non-psych doctoral program, chosen precisely because of the reasons above), only 3 are in the same marriage/partnership/relationship as they were when they entered: a woman who was planning her wedding throughout the first year of study, another woman, who quit, and me. My very long, committed relationship was pretty rocky for a long time, but we pulled through. Everybody else got divorced/split up. Grad school can be really hard on relationships. I'd recommend a clinical masters (social work or MFT), then see if you have the stamina for the doctorate. The academic bubble has BURST, so you actually may be more competitive for adjuncting gigs (part time teaching) with a masters than with a PhD (they can pay you less).

    That said, the only reason I'm on this very helpful website is because I got discouraged from doing what I really wanted to do (doctorate in psych) and made some unhappy choices as a result. Now all these years later, I'm considering doing what I just should have bitten the bullet and done in the first place--an MFT or PsyD.
     
  9. O Gurl

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    +1 This degree requires mobility. Period.

    Also agree. Psychologists certainly can earn a comfortable salary in some settings ($80K- low $100K), but if you are looking for a quick 6 figures, then you should consider another field.
     
  10. roubs

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    Just to echo,

    1) You will not receive a good education at an online program. You will not have good job prospects. You will have a difficult time getting and keeping clients. Don't go to an online program.

    2) If a 45 minute drive is tough for you, don't go into this field.
     
  11. wigflip

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    I have to agree. Doctoral study in any field is very intensive, so if that kind of commute is prohibitive, now might not be the right time to pursue this dream, at least by enrolling in a program. But you could invest time in learning more about your options.

    If I were you, I would:
    1. If you haven't already, visit the website for your state mental health licensing board. In minute detail, hammer out what the various licenses require in terms of education, internship hours, etc.
    2. Identify several local masters level clinicians and several doctoral level clinicians. Offer to pay their fee for an hour interview about their training, daily routine. Learn more about what the day-to-day job is like.
    3. If you are giving serious thought to doctoral study in a university-based program, acquaint yourself with the scholarly literature. For at least a month, spend a few hours each day reading scholarly articles, studying stats, research design, theory.
    4. Read the really bad news: visit some of the scholastic scamblogger sites like Scholastic Snake Oil and 100 Reasons Not to Go to Grad School. Read the comments, mostly from current grad students and recent graduates. Sure, some of it is just griping, but there's also a lot of good information there about grad school loans (non-dischargable during bankrupcy--will haunt you forever), employment problems.
    5. Ask people who know. If friends at work are in university based, APA accredited grad programs, they are probably a great source of information. But the truth is that most people who are not academics don't really know what it means to be in grad school. They'll tell you "follow your heart" "it's never too late," but they don't know anything about the road to tenure, what academics actually do. Most laypeople I know think grad school is just undergrad on stereoids. Professional programs may be that (social work, MBA, MFT, occupational therapy, etc.)--most have rigidly structured programs and don't expect you to become an independent scholar. But in a traditional PhD program, you are expected to knock out your coursework, conduct independent research, present it at national conferences, serve as a teaching assistant (horrible), engage in academic service (service on committees, organizing conferences, peer reviewing abstracts or articles for conferences or journals)--many things the general public doesn't ever think about. If you don't want to do these things, at all hours of the day and night, then the PhD isn't for you.

    The above certainly aren't the only things you can do to gain more information, but if they seem too onerous, consider asking yourself why. If the prospect of devoting several hours a day to scholarly study now, when it doesn't cost more than a trip to the university library and a copy card is grating, think about what 4-7 years will feel like. If spending a few hours reading about the student loan crisis is depressing, imagine paying off 5-6 figures in student loan debt around the time your kids are going to college.

    I apologize if this sounds harsh, bitter. When I was a prospective grad student, I thought all the people who warned me about the downsides of grad school were evil, snobbish trolls. It turns out they were really trying to save me from making an awful mistake.
     
  12. busybusybusy

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    I have to agree with Psycycle. Get an MSW. Everything youwant to do (with the exception of being a "Psychologist") you can do with an MSW.

    Besides the fact that it's a shorter amount of time in school and less expensive, it seems that you don't have a solid comprehension of what it takes to be in a doctoral program in psychology. Relocation should be the least of your worries. For example, you mentioned Penn State and Loyola, which are two extremely different programs. One is a PhD and one is a PsyD, they have very different research focuses and different orientations; not to be harsh but these are things you would need to know before applying to any program, and lets not even get started on internship.

    Your online classes will not help you in applying to APA accredited doctoral programs. They are not respected and not looked at favorably in the application process. If you choose not to apply to non APA accredited programs, which will severely limit your hireability,it may not matter. You can definitely have a career going to a non APA accredited program, it would be lying to say you couldn't, however it would limit where you could be hired, what states you could be licensed in (which can affect insurance) and how much you could chanrge for clients. Insurance companies genenrally are not willing to pay a doctoral rate for many people who come from non APA accredited programs.

    I understand this is alot to think about but you should know the difficulties from the beginning. Most doctoral programs take less that 5% of their applicants. This field is really for those who are willing to sacrifice for what they want. I wish you all th luck inthe world, especially if you choose to pursue psychology, but with your limitations (and we all have them) it seems like an MSW or MA in Counseling would suit you better.
     
  13. kricketkricket

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    Thanks to all of you who responded! I really enjoy the truth, even if it is harsh. I need to know, obviously others have been there so I can learn from their experiences.

    All of my fellow co-workers have gone through online schools for their BA's, BS's or MA's.

    In my first course for my MA we had to research licensing requirements for the state we intend to practice in. I plan on practicing either in PA or MD and both require (to be a licensed psychologist) that you have attended an APA accreddited program.

    Currently, I am in a Masters Counseling Program through Grand Canyon University online (which also has a traditional campus), which in my state can/will lead to licensure with the proper amount of clinical hours. However, I am thinking of switching into MFT, because I do want to be some family oriented. Originally, I had thought to do the general counseling program and then to get certificates in other areas that interest me (thantology, MFT, child and adolescent and so forth) but I think since I am predominantly interested in the family structure that I may be better off with MFT.

    My thought is this (please correct me with bitter reality if it is true) that I can get my MFT (or my general counseling psych if I stay in my current program) and put in the time and effort to get licensed at the Masters level, at this point in both states, I could practice privately if I so wished.

    Would I have been better off to just do straight Psychology for my masters degree? Perhaps a general psychology degree? I had thought about it and researched it prior to enrolling in my current program, but chose counseling because I did not want the intense research, I wanted to be more hands on.

    I can always earn CEU's or certificates to boost my knowledge and experince level. I can always do an online PhD if that's something I still want to do after I am licensed at the Masters level.

    I think right now, with the time of life I am in (I am 28 and have a 3 year old and 10 month old) that my best option would be to get a teaching job after I graduate, and to continue to get experience through my current job (crisis work with a big counseling agency in my local area). I work part time now and make approx $13g a year, so obviously anything will be an improvement wants I am able to work full time (ie the kids are in school).

    I guess this is just one of those things I will have to feel my way through as I travel down this very convoluted, option limited, goal oriented path.

    I was suprised by one thing however, some people were recomending an MSW, to my knowledge all MSW programs are very competitive, often have heavier work loads (once you're in the field) and less pay. It was also my understanding to get an MSW you had to have a BSW to be considered for the program. I say this because my cousin is going for her MSW, and she specifially had to have a BSW to get into the program. I had looked into the MSW but only briefly because of lower pay (to my knowledge compared to the psychology field) and because of the BSW requirement.
     
  14. kricketkricket

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    Just for those who seem to think I may have slacked on looking into programs and options APA and internships and post doctoral studies and so forth...

    I am the FIRST person in my family to not only finish high school, but college as well and on the Deans List at that. I was not involved in the mental health field AT ALL until April of this year. I recieved my BA in September and between leaving an old job that I had been at for a very long time, and stepping into a new job and career, and having a baby in Sept. (5 days after I graduated) and trying to do everything that many moms and dads (and I'm sure parents on here do) I was attempting to research grad schools and programs and courses and options. But without any resources to go to, nobody to turn to, and a family with an attitude of "why would you want to go into that field" "why would you want to do that" or "you will never make it" ...lets just say it hasn't been easy and the support has not really been there.

    On that note, all the research I did was mostly online research, discussion boards (I just found this one last night) , reviews of different school programs, MS in Psych vs MS in Counseling, APA vs Non APA...has anybody ever googled this stuff on the internet, there is soooo much conflicting information! And when you do not have a resource that you can turn to and ask your questions, it's like driving in the dark with no lights, difficult if not impossible.

    So its not that I didnt' spend days, hours, and months researching (I started researching when I was a year into my BA) but its more that the information was conflicting and I had no person to ask. To be honest, even at my work, my co workers do not have solid answers. They have insight, common sense and opinions, but no 100% for sure answers. So I have looked, and read, and researched. But this is the first time I found a DQ forum, which is actually genuine which is actually helpful. I have recieved more information and knowledge off of this forum in 24 hours, then I did in months of research online.

    Thank you!
     
  15. cmd0618

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    kricketkricket - Don't listen to those people, there's no need to defend yourself. You have made some amazing accomplishments and I think it's great that you're in grad school when no one in your family even graduated high school. Although I think you should change your program (MSW is a great idea!) the fact that you are trying to better yourself is very important.

    I'm starting to notice that several people on here apparently seem to expect that everyone who wants to be a doctor comes from a background of doctors, or money/education/privilege... sorry people but not all of us are that lucky...
     
    #14 cmd0618, Jul 23, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2011
  16. busybusybusy

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    I know I can speak for many people on here when I say this is just untrue. Alot of us have worked very hard to get in to doctoral programs and are just trying to be realistic about the road ahead if you choose to go this route. If you read through various threads you will notice that the majority of people discuss how expensive this entire process is, from applications to FSPSs to internships and moving; if all of us were rich this wouldn't be an issue. This is just an immature response.

    kricketkricket--

    I was in no way implying that you hadn't worked hard to get where you were, so my apologies if my post came across like that. That being said, I was being honest about the expectations of doctoral psych Phd admissions commitees. I'm not saying it's impossible to get in with an online masters, but realize you will have a harder time because POIs won't look favorably at that. Also, I understand that you are gepographically limited, again I'm not saying that this will mean you can't get in anywhere but it will make it much harder. In this field many schools work on a mentor model, meaning that you're really applying to work with a professor as opposed to just applying to a school, if your interests don't match with any of the professors in a program you won't be accepted.

    I've never heard of someone needing to have a BSW in order to attend an MSW program. I've had friends who attended some of the most competitive MSW program that came from psych and crim BAs. If your MA will allow you to get licensed you would be able to do therapy with just that and may not need to go for the Phd, I would check that out.

    Also, you mentioned completing an online Phd, realize that none of these are APA accredited and that comes with all of the issues that others have mentioned above. It will limit you if you graduate from an non-APA accredited program. If you're ok with the limitations because it works better for your life then fine, I just think you should know that there will be limitations before you choose that especially since those schools won't tell you that. There is a school called Fielding Graduate which is based on the west coast but does somewhat of an online program. They are APA accredited currently, but I believe I have heard rumors of them losing their accreditation. If you're deadset on online though at least check it out.

    Finally, I would reccommend checking out the book "Insiders guide to graduate programs in clinical and counseling psychology" by Dr. Norcross. This book guided me step by step through this process and gives you great insight on the field. Best of luck!
     
    #15 busybusybusy, Jul 23, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2011
  17. PsychPhDStudent

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    If you want to teach at a college level, please please please do not get an online masters or PhD. I really like the previous poster who suggested speaking to local people who are doing what you would eventually like to do. They will give you solid advice.
     
  18. 2012PhD

    2012PhD Psychology Resident

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    CMD you misunderstood many of the posts here. Unless you are in a clinical psychology doctoral program already you may not fully appreciate the importance of apa internship and apa accredidation for employment. This is a fiercly competitive field and trying to get sub-par education through online programs or taking short-cuts is just going to be catastrophic later. This is the reality of our field.

    Your post about money is very reactive and not based on any facts at all. Many of us don't come from privilliged families, which is why going to a good program and getting funding is so important to us. My family doesn't even have a high school education and is not from the US, which is why i strived to attend a funded, reputable program. Its even more important to go this route if you don't have financial help and don't come from a privilleged background. I was not the only first generation college student in my doctoral program.
     
  19. wigflip

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    Hi kricketkricket,

    I'd like to congratulate you on this accomplishment. As a nontraditional student, I know it is no small feat.

    That said, and again, this may seem harsh, but you are one of the target demographics for shoddy diploma mills and student loan orgs. The issue of cultural meaning attached to education (what does it mean to you to be called "doctor," and by whom--do you really need this degree to accomplish the daily tasks involved in your practice?) is important to honestly consider relative to the value and the cost. No one reputable will take an online doctorate seriously. The only one who will be impressed with that will be you...when you get your tuition statement! The debt issue is no small thing, especially non-dischargable student loans which can sink you for life. I know people who plan to continuously hop from one MA program to another indefinitely in order to stave off the massive student loans they have accrued in grad school.

    You speak very casually about "teaching" as well, but please know that for all the hours you spend on prep, grading, email, dealing with grade grubbing students, you will be making less than minimum wage for adjunct teaching. There are virtually no full time teaching jobs in my large vibrant city--only these poorly remunerated lecturer positions. The people who manage to get those few jobs will likely have gone to Ivy League institutions.

    Best of luck, but do consider listening to the folks here and staying away from online graduate eduction. We're trying to help save you from getting fleeced.
     
  20. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychologist
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    Agreed. I honestly didn't see anything in the previous posts that I would've taken to be insulting toward, or belittling of, kricketkricket. Rather, the information included thus far is sound, albeit harsh--clinical psychology is a very competitive field for which online doctoral study is by and large not a viable alternative, and in which significant geographic mobility is generally a requirement. Relocation is often required initially for the doctoral program, then again for internship (as others have mentioned, one of the main reasons individuals don't match is due to geographic restrictions), possibly again for post-doc, and finally yet again for employment (especially if academia is a career goal). And clinical psych actually has it fairly "easy" in the relocation and job-hunting respects compared to many other doctoral fields.

    If significant geographic restrictions really are unavoidable, then I'd second the above suggestions to look into master's programs (probably in either counseling or clinical social work). You'll be able to practice, the programs aren't quite as competitive as those for doctoral degrees, and you'll avoid essentially wasting money pursuing an online Ph.D. that won't allow you any more freedoms than a traditional master's.
     
  21. roubs

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    Also, there are many in my program who have to do an hour+ drive each way for practicum 2-3 times a week.
     
  22. cara susanna

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    I'll be commuting for my practicum this upcoming year, it's an hour drive if you speed. So I second that. :)
     
  23. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty
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    Unless you are willing to relocate at least 1-2 times during your training and work 50-60hr+/wks for most if not all of your training, you will likely not be able to complete a doctoral program. People find ways to cut corners and make things work, but if you cut too many corners you open yourself up to a number of pitfalls. I don't mean to come off as, "I walked to work up hill both ways in the snow and no shoes", but the training is often more involved than most applicants realize. Internship, post-doc, licensure, and employment are just additional hurdles that every doctoral student needs to deal with once they complete their training.
     
  24. kricketkricket

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    Please, please...I was not offended by any of the posts or comments, and I was not trying to "defend" myself so much as explain my situation a little further.

    Right now, at this current point in my life, I know I am not able to do all the tasks required of me to gain my PhD. Maybe someday, but not now, not with two small children and a husband and working part time. And I wouldn't want to have to pull my children out of school throughout my career to relocate, it would not be fair to them. I took the route of having a family first so that 1. I would still be young enough to enjoy them, 2. I would not be too old when they are gone (I can still enjoy myself by the time I'm fifty ;) ) and 3. The most important reason to me, I didn't want my career to be affected by my having children during early or mid career stages. So, even though I took what I thought would be an easier way of achieveing a career has seemed to turn around and bite me.

    I would really like to cry, not because of the challenges, or what people have told me, but because I am frustrated that I cannot attain a goal that I had hoped to achieve. I had hoped to make something of myself for not only my sake but for my family and so that my children would be encouraged themselves to go to college when the time comes.

    So I guess I am stuck with this; what will I be able to do with my masters and what will my earning potential be? I have no idea how to open private practice and I am not sure if that is something that will be taught during grad school or not. Although we have covered what is required for opening a practice, there is no "step by step" instructions. I am the sort of person that when it comes to doing something, I like to see steps and specifics and reasons ...sometimes I can be very type A.

    Perhaps I will double my masters and do Masters in Counseling and MFT? I am just not even sure anymore and will have to rethink my entire idea of what I want to do, where I want to go, and what I want to end up being. I feel like at 28, I should already have all of this decided, out of the way, and be making something of myself, but instead, I am just starting.

    Thank you all for your support, comments, feedback and help in this process. I will not persue and online PhD, I will see what I can end up doing with my Masters.
     
  25. cmd0618

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    I hope you realize too, that I said EXACTLY what you did in my earlier post. All of you are giving valuable and realistic information, no doubt. It was really just the way people were saying it that was bothering me. Perhaps you didn't mean it that way (it's easy to misunderstand text) but it seemed to me like people were talking to kricketkricket as if she knew nothing or wasn't that serious about it (and apparently she thought that, too.) I'm sorry if I upset you, that wasn't my purpose at all.
     
  26. roubs

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    I think another poster said it well, most other people in our real lives are playing the supportive "follow your dreams" role, it's useful to hear the unfiltered downsides of grad school and seriously ponder "Can I accept all that is ****ty about this career path?" For all the challenges, I still find it rewarding and I don't regret my decision.
     
  27. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty
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    There are some excellent books on the subject:

    Dr. Steve Walfish's "Financial Success in Mental Health Practice"
    Dr. Edward Zuckerman's "The Paper Office"

    I'm sure used copies are available for a very reasonable price. The Paper Office is in its 4th edition, not sure about Dr. Walfish's book.

    Building a private practice is not covered in most graduate programs. I used to give a lecture on the topic, but it was mostly a cursory overview to encourage students to think more pragmatically about what is involved in setting up a private practice. Most state associations (psych, counseling, MFT, etc) probably offer seminars/presentations on subjects related to private practice. Division 42 is the APA division that focuses on independant practice for psychologists, I'm sure other disciplines have something similar.

    Pursuing mentorship and/or additional training after your 1st masters would be the better option. There are typically a ton of options for further training AND they are far less expensive than another masters. There are also places like the Beck Institute that offer intensive training to clinicians. Psychoanalytic institutes often offer discounted rates for young clinicians just starting out. A public university (with in-state tuition) will probably offer you the best bang for your buck in regard to a masters degree. Best of luck with your plan.

    ps. No one has everything figured out by 28. Most people don't by 58. Life's a Journey...song? :D
     
    #26 Therapist4Chnge, Jul 23, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2011
  28. 2012PhD

    2012PhD Psychology Resident

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    No worries. It is easy to misunderstand things over text! The truth is that the majority of aspiring PhD/PsyD's in clinical psychology don't know much about the pitfalls of the field or the importance of apa internhsip and accredidation. It has nothing to do with them---just a problem in our field that this information is not available to applicants. Most people don't know about the internship crisis either. This information is not readily avaiable to applicants and many professional schools provide misinformation or flat out lie to applicants. Many people who post on this forum have done lots of research themselves and are serious, but still have not come away with clear answers so this is a forum where current PhD and PsyD students and psychologists can provide more accurate information b/c there is just too much inaccurate stuff circulating around.
     
  29. wigflip

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  30. Jon Snow

    Jon Snow Senior Member
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    Minimum wage? 5-7 years is the average time of completion for a PhD program. A decade or more is a red flag. Debt should be minimal.
     
  31. wigflip

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    I went back and read my posts, concerned that what I previously wrote (quickly, distractedly, guiltily because not working on research) might have come across as too harsh. I think the above might warrant a little further explanation:

    What I meant by "you are one of the target demographics for shoddy diploma mills and student loan orgs" is that people who are "first in their family" to attend college/grad school in some sense have more at stake than those who took the idea of college for granted ("that's just what one does after high school because everyone else in the family and community does it"). Because traditional education is often touted as the great equalizer, people who need or might want "equalizing" are specifically targeted by online schools, technical programs, and student loan orgs, much as people with insufficient means are often targeted by credit card companies, who hope to make a killing off interest payments. I was swiftly alluding to a much larger conversation which includes a critique of law school admissions, the traditional academic job market, debates about the value of undergraduate education for many (I highly recommend the excellent blog Scholastic Snake Oil for more on this).

    I don't think anyone here (me included) is trying to piss on your dreams, just provide a little information about the value of the particular degrees which you are/were considering attaining (and academic degrees are commodities, as those "selling" them know very well). Most of the profs and grad students who tried to dissuade my undergraduate self from going the traditional (non-psych) doctorate route sounded bitter at the time. I remember thinking, "who are you to try and discourage me when you got your degree?" Now after wasting lots of time and money, I know firsthand why they were so bitter, and why they were trying to dissuade me. If I had a time machine I'd go back and kiss every one of them full on the lips. You're already loads smarter than I was at your age.
     
    #30 wigflip, Jul 25, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2011
  32. cara susanna

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    wigflip, so the PhD you're working on isn't in clinical psych? Does that mean that you feel differently about clinical psych's prospects than your own field's?

    I'm just confused, your posts have been depressing me beyond belief so it'd be nice to know if you're talking about non-psych doctoral study. ;)
     
  33. wigflip

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    Time to degree: As I've mentioned elsewhere on this site, I'm not in a psych program, but another social science doctoral program. Mean time to degree varies with the academic discipline, research method (with qualitative research taking longer than quantitative) and with the particular department. One of the top ranked departments in my field at Prestigious U has a mean time to degree of 11 years and an attrition rate of 50%.

    Minimum wage: Less than half of people earning PhDs ever get a T-T (tenure track) position. Of course, of those getting a T-T, not all receive tenure. My friend's adviser just got turned down for tenure. I guess getting cancer isn't reason enough to give someone leeway on their publications. The rest get stuck doing one of several things:
    a. adjuncting. If you count the many hours spend doing new prep, reviewing your prep, teaching, grading, responding to emails, meeting with students, writing letters of rec, dealing with plagiarism, admin meetings, makeup exams, etc, yes, it is about minimum wage. Last year I spent 12 hours dealing with a single plagiarism case, and only that little because I wasn't called in to the final hearing. But let's say I'm wrong, and that you earn $10-13 an hour when all is said and done. After years of advanced training, this stinks, especially when you add in the abuse you have to take from undergrads (one of my friends was told by admin that she had to take "I forgot to study" and "I had a party to attend" as valid excuses for offering a student a makeup exam, of course on her own time).
    b. VAP on a year by year basis (okay for one year, but no one I know gets back to back VAP)
    c. getting a full time research position (a few I know have done this, but it's been a choice forced by disillusionment with the traditional academic job market)
    d. retraining in a practical field and getting a real job

    Of course if your degree is in clin/counseling psych there are clinical possibilities, which is why it's probably a smarter choice than a humanities or social degree.

    The people getting the good T-T jobs are mostly from the Ivies and top Top TOP ranked public schools. Google Elena Stover to read about how a UCLA neuro PhD yields a career in poker playing. The moral of the story there is not that she is a loser, but that this is more typical than people in academia would like to discuss. It's to the department/institution's benefit to paint people who fall through the cracks as losers, rather than blaming the system or state/federal politics (which shape education budgets). And those cracks are only getting wider and wider.

    Debt: Again, this issue is tremendously complicated, varies with grad program tremendously. The funded vs non-funded discussion often reifies a false dichotomy. Not all reputable, universtity-based grad programs (again, speaking more widely than psych, but also within psych) are fully funded. There are haves and have-nots within cohorts. And funding is rapidly changing due to state budget crises. Classes are being cancelled and TAships are disappearing. Based on talking to clin psych folks at my current school, I have reason to believe that others on this site have painted an inaccurate picture about the level of funding the average student in that department receives. So even though many would consider that program "funded," it really isn't fully funded for many of the people enrolling. Hence, debt.

    Why comment at all, you ask, given that I'm outside psych? My undergrad background is in psych, my interests remain there, and the OP discussed teaching in a way that I thought I could address. It used to be much easier to pick up teaching work, but even adjunct work is getting hard to find in my city--too many qualified people looking for work.

    Hmmm...I think that's everything...
     
  34. Jon Snow

    Jon Snow Senior Member
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    Hi Wig,

    When talking about PhDs, demand various hugely based on field. Some are easier paths right now in a traditional academic setting than others. Some have good applied venues, some don't. There is definitely a danger of falling through the cracks. And, I think people that get a PhD should be cogniscent of of this possibility. I am outside of traditional academia, in medical academia (a very different place), mostly because of money. The recipe toward success is clear though challenging I think in any of these environments. Publish, network, get grants, present research, etc. . . It can be a rewarding and interesting lifestyle. There are other pathways though. You don't have to be the elite principal investigator researcher generating million+ dollar grants every few years and jetting around all over the world to give talks. That's a stressful goal and I think akin to aspiring to be a high level executive in business. Other pathways including coordinating research, you can make good money with this, or applying your knowledge in statistics and research design in the private sector, or writing grants for other people in many different contexts (I was offered a $50,000 fee just for successfully writing grants for other people [do a few of those a year, and that's a good chunk of money]; interestingly enough that offer came from my interactions on another forum in which I occasionally debate politics). I think many people enter graduate school contemplating the traditional arts+sciences professor route. But, that's a low paying route, generally speaking, often very competitive, and not the only game in town.
     
  35. wigflip

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    Hi Cara,

    Genuinely sorry to hear I've been depressing you! Yes, I'm in another field, considering a return to psych (BA in psych from good R1). Spent a long, long time reading the posts here before daring to add myself. Given the ghastly job market and funding situation, I'm considering a departure from academia and a return to psych, weighing my options (PsyD vs. MFT). I don't have an informed opinion on clin psych's prospects in terms of employability outside academia. But I do know a reasonable amount about what's going on in terms of academics' employability right now. I don't get the impression that most people on this site have those kinds of aspirations, but rather, as the title StudentDOCTORNetwork implies, hope to do clinical work, perhaps balancing it with other types of work (assessment, adjuncting). I do think I have something to contribute when the subject turns to teaching, institutional prestige/rank, and going back to school as a non-traditional student with caregiving responsibilities, as well as some other subtopics referenced by the OP.

    The thing that gets me the most about my own choice to pursue doctoral study, and it seems that this would also apply to clin psych people hoping for tenure track jobs as well, is that the abysmal odds should be obvious. In order for everyone in your cohort to get a T-T job, that many profs have to die/retire AND that many departments have to keep those positions open and launch searches (as opposed to filling the teaching slots with cheaper adjuncts). That's a lotta deaths and retirements every year! Obviously it never happens.

    I think part of the reason most of the grad students I know are so bitter is that we've consigned ourselves to training for jobs that no longer exist. It turns out that you can't eat idealism! One thing I admire about many of the folks on this site is how well-informed they are about the nuances of this profession.

    Good luck, whichever path you're headed down.
     
  36. wigflip

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    Hi Jon,
    Thanks for the nice, thoughtful post--good points all. Unfortunately, little of the above applies to the typical graduate from my department (explaining further won't be particularly interesting or relevant), and I do think that there is an ethos about T-T being THE only respectable choice after graduation, at least that's the feeling in my department. My original goal was to get a T-T at a teaching university, but that had receded now that the economy has crashed (and I've learned how truly beastly teenagers are).

    Of course now I wish I'd done a funded PhD in clin psych, but I was discouraged from pursuing that path because of my interest in doing clinical work, my age, and my mobility issues (my stats were fine). Now that I made the bozo choice I'm even older and less mobile (aging parent needs more care than when I started doctorate), so I'll likely settle for MFT in the end, PsyD if I'm extraordinarily lucky and the admissions committee has a good sense of humor about my incredibly circuitous academic route. Unfortunately, I'm not laughing!:laugh: (but my emoticon is).
     
  37. wigflip

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    Sorry, I know I've been dominating the discussion here (and I do have to get some actual work done), but I did want to revisit the above. I'd like to respectfully disagree about the "recipe for success" in traditional academia, though that's the official story that circulates. A lot can scuttle your chances, unrelated to the above, including obstructionist advisers, being on the wrong side of various departmental power struggles, faddishness in research, sexual harassment, racism/colorism, etc. These are social obstacles that you can't always network your way through. I just worry about the "recipe for success" orientation because I think it can position those who don't "succeed" for blame (they didn't follow the recipe/try hard enough) rather than compassion (it may not be them as individuals, there's something wrong with the system).
     
  38. erg923

    erg923 Regional Clinical Officer, Cenpatico National
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    This is purely personal, but for me, and alot of students in my department, the prevailing attitude over the years has evolved into "why/what for?"

    In my experience, although research and the skills associated with it (becoming a critical scientist) are essential for being a competent psychologist, research (and the submitting of manuscripts) has been a wholly unrewarding experience for me. There seems to be so much out there right now, that truth becomes obscured by the vast pit of studies...almost no topic has a consensus agreement. I think this is, in-part, a direct result of the predominating academic paradigm of publish, publish, publish. So much so that that the true end-goal of it all becomes lost and obscured.
     
    #37 erg923, Jul 25, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2011
  39. 2012PhD

    2012PhD Psychology Resident

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    Hi Wigflip:

    Since you are so unhappy with your non-clinical doctorate and the job market, i would hate to see you making the same mistake and spending another 6 years of your life in another doctoral program. Clinical psychology is also a fiercly competitive field from start to finish, including clinical work. Getting an apa accredited internship and clinical post-doc in our field is tough these days (there are literally hundreds of applicants for 3-5 spots). You have to be geographically flexible and have an excellent CV. You can't be mediocre in our field or cut corners. Since you aren't geographically flexible and have caretaking responsibities, why not pick something practical and in demand this time around? Psychiatric nurse practitioners are in demand and the degree takes 2-3 years. They can also do therapy if they get additional coursework. Psychiatrists are in demand and earn 2-3 times the salary of clinical psychologists. These professionals will always have jobs and will be in demand even in a recession. MFT's and PsyD's are a gamble. MFT's only earn 40K median experienced salary and the PsyD takes 7-8 years of training with licensure and will put you 200K in debt.

    Another possibility is to not go to graduate school and get a consulting gig with your degree. I know several social science PhD's who are earning 6 figures in consulting firms. Only 1% of the population has a doctorate. Many people are doing better than PhD's with just a BA degree out there. All my friends have BA degrees for the most part and are making more money than i will ever make with my clinical psychology PhD.
     
  40. wigflip

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    To erg923:
    That's my absolute favorite Keith Moon pic!!

    To 2012:
    Thanks so much for your thoughtful and through-provoking reply. I'm cognizant of most of what you noted in your post (thanks to months spent combing this great website) but do appreciate it nonetheless. I'm too old for med school without having to join "the Guad Squad." Might have been a good choice years ago. Similarly, getting into nursing school is a mess in CA--budget cuts at the state and local level have made it almost impossible to get any kind of pre-reqs (in the classes I TA at Party University there are 2 students for every seat for the first two weeks of the term). The woman who waxes off my mustache once a month has been working on her nursing pre-reqs for years (couldn't get classes she needs) and it took another year of lottery picks to get a slot at county nursing school, so by the time she's done it will have taken as long as a doctorate. But believe me, I'm weighing many different options very carefully now. And at the risk of sounding macabre, if I WERE to do the PsyD here in town, I would no longer be tethered by my eldercare responsibilities by the time it was time to scramble around the country for an APA internship...




     
  41. 2012PhD

    2012PhD Psychology Resident

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    California is in bad shape. It is such a beautiful state so this is so unfortunate! I am sure you thought about taking nursing pre-reqs online or through a private school. I hear it doesn't matter where you take them. That's probably your best bet. It may be worth the cost in the long-run. California has a ton of terrible PsyD programs, and a few good ones. Pepperdine and PGSP-stanford have decent reputations, but cost a ridiculous amount of money. As you know, CA has also instituted the CAPIC internship mess so there is always an unaccredited, unpaid internship option for those that don't get apa internships.
     
  42. wigflip

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    Yeah, that's what I've heard as well (re PsyD program reps), though I admit I don't know much about CAPIC or APPIC (beyond don't do it, go APA)--will take a bite out of that apple if I get more serious about applying (>= 2012 fall apps cycle, pending outcome of current mess and possibly coming to my senses and abstaining). Only speaking for myself here, but I'd probably apply to Pepperdine or stay away from the PsyD altogether (Stanford is too far for length of program). Also planning to work backwards and figure out where people who get local APA internshipss come from--noodled around yesterday and found one local university counseling center which mostly drew on local people, not imports from the Ivies or top ranked schools, and they are APA accredited, so I think there's some hope, despite the competition.
     
  43. PsyDLICSW

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    Immaculata University near Philadelphia (Immaculata PA) has a non traditional program for those who need evening and weekend classes. They are geared towards the working and family oriented adult. Hope this helps. Good luck!
     
  44. Acceptance isme

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    Hi. I am in a similar dilemma as kricketkricket, with the exception that I am much older. I will be 48 in September and did not pursue my master's degree in psychology until a couple of years ago (I got a BA in Psych in 1987). I was very hasty in my decision to pursue my master's and jumped into it before doing enough research. I had been researching it and came across University of Phoenix, which offered a master's in psychology online. Online was the option I had because I have two daughters who at the time were in Elementary and Middle school. We have no graduate schools closer than an hour (with no traffic) away so I had no other choice. I had a great experience with Univ. of Phoenix, and worked harder than I have ever worked at anything in my life. My only regret is that I did not do more research on the psychology program they offered before finalizing my endeavor. The master's degree I received is for General Psychology, and has left me with very few career opportunities. I had expected to go into counseling, and planned on also pursuing my PsyD in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in Forensic Psychology. Sadly, I have come to realize that this is a dream that will not come true for me, because the nearest schools with this program require a commute of close to two hours each way. I would have my first class at 8 a.m. and my last at 6 p.m., with classes being two hours each. With a husband who is a pilot, gone several days a week, and two young teenage daughters, this simply won't work. I am so crushed over this!

    Here is my dilemma! Because counseling is what I had intended to do with my career, I am wondering if I should go for a master's in counseling psychology or an MSW? If I go for the master's counseling degree, is APA accreditation still needed, or is this only a requirement for a Doctorate in Psychology? There are a couple of schools about an hour away, but I really hate commuting. I also see that online is frowned upon, but is this also true for MSW's? University of New England contacted me and their program for MSW is online, but also requires a minimum of two practicums and the internship. They have assured me that doing this program online will not be frowned upon because of the practicums and internship, as well as the fact that the Diploma does not state that it was the online part of their school. I was told that since they do have a regular campus, this is not a problem. I am already settling for less than what I dreamed of doing, so I want to make sure I do things right this time around. I have learned so much from this forum just tonight, so I am asking for your honest advice and opinions. One important point is that I hope to one day have my private practice. Can anyone enlighten me please?

    Thanks so much!!!!
     
    #43 Acceptance isme, Jul 26, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2011
  45. wigflip

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    Hi Acceptance isme,

    I am an older student at a crossroads as well, and I know how hard it is to sort through this stuff. When I feel blue about the opportunities that are probably now foreclosed to me because of my age and lack of geographic mobility, I remind myself how much I value my husband and our relationship, and how many of the faculty and grad students I know have nonexistent or dysfunctional private lives. I don't think it's an absolute tradeoff, but I do think it's telling that so many of the faculty I know are divorced, screwing around. I went to grad school far from home for a few years and it damaged my relationship. We're back on track now, but it's good to keep in mind what's important.

    Maybe you can contact local people with the license you hope to attain (social work license?) and offer to take them out to lunch and pick their brains? Online grad degrees aren't going to get you a tenure track job at Harvard, but that's not what you're trying to achieve. Maybe licensed clinicians who are doing what you eventually want to do in your particular area of the country would have a better sense about whether any stigma of online credentials would block future employment? In other words, work backwards from what you want to do, and then you can figure out what's realistic in terms of training.

    I wish you luck and satisfaction in your future path, whatever you choose to do.
     
  46. Acceptance isme

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    Hi Acceptance isme,

    I am an older student at a crossroads as well, and I know how hard it is to sort through this stuff. When I feel blue about the opportunities that are probably now foreclosed to me because of my age and lack of geographic mobility, I remind myself how much I value my husband and our relationship, and how many of the faculty and grad students I know have nonexistent or dysfunctional private lives. I don't think it's an absolute tradeoff, but I do think it's telling that so many of the faculty I know are divorced, screwing around. I went to grad school far from home for a few years and it damaged my relationship. We're back on track now, but it's good to keep in mind what's important.

    Maybe you can contact local people with the license you hope to attain (social work license?) and offer to take them out to lunch and pick their brains? Online grad degrees aren't going to get you a tenure track job at Harvard, but that's not what you're trying to achieve. Maybe licensed clinicians who are doing what you eventually want to do in your particular area of the country would have a better sense about whether any stigma of online credentials would block future employment? In other words, work backwards from what you want to do, and then you can figure out what's realistic in terms of training.

    I wish you luck and satisfaction in your future path, whatever you choose to do.

    Hi Wigflip,

    Thank you so much for your reply. Your words about how destructive your grad school experience, as well as others' was on relationships, is something I have read a lot about on this Forum under another thread. I would hate to compromise my family life, so I guess the saying "Everything happens for a good reason" applies very strongly here. I don't know anybody I can meet up with to pick their brains though, so I am hoping that this forum is helpful. My biggest dilemma is, which one (master's in clinical social work or masters in counseling psychology) offers more promise careerwise. Is the income about the same? And of course, I still have the question about whether getting the social work masters online would be frowned upon? After all, the practicums and internship required are done at true facilities and the work is supervised.

    Thanks again for your helpful advice :)
     
  47. Acceptance isme

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    Hi Wigflip,

    Thank you so much for your reply. Your words about how destructive your grad school experience, as well as others' was on relationships, is something I have read a lot about on this Forum under another thread. I would hate to compromise my family life, so I guess the saying "Everything happens for a good reason" applies very strongly here. I don't know anybody I can meet up with to pick their brains though, so I am hoping that this forum is helpful. My biggest dilemma is, which one (master's in clinical social work or masters in counseling psychology) offers more promise careerwise. Is the income about the same? And of course, I still have the question about whether getting the social work masters online would be frowned upon? After all, the practicums and internship required are done at true facilities and the work is supervised.

    Thanks again for your helpful advice :)
     
  48. 2012PhD

    2012PhD Psychology Resident

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    Hi There:

    Even with an MSW, you will need to complete 3,000 hours after you graduate before becoming licensed. This means that you will need to secure employment at a hospital, clinic to accrue those hours. I think the job market for MSW's and for therapy jobs is very competitive so I can't imagine that it would be easy to secure employment with an online degree. I think there is a huge stigma against online degrees, and with the job market being so competitive, employers are going to be picky and mostly likely cut those applicants out. I wouldn't want to see you making the same mistake and after paying for 2 years of graduate school, not securing an income. I don't think its impossible, just very risky. At all the hospitals that I trained at, I never met a social worker who went to an online program. Don't believe what these schools are telling you. They are interested in enrolling more students. Talk to social workers in the field.

    In terms of private practice, many consumers would probably not want to see someone who went to an online program. There is definite stigma out there. When researching therapists, I definitely look at the school they went to and where they trained.
     
  49. Acceptance isme

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    Yes, I believe you are right about that. I already did the online thing once, and while it was a great experience for me I did find myself trying to defend my choice in the past. The commutes for the master's programs aren't bad at all, so now I need to decide which is better, MSW or Counseling Psychologist?

    Thanks so much!!!:)
     
  50. wigflip

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    Hi Acceptance,

    Glad to hear that you're eschewing the online degree. I think what other members have said about this above is right.

    Here's what I'm thinking:

    Just to clarify, a "counseling psychologist" is someone who has gone to a doctoral program in counseling--if I understand you correctly you are deciding between an MSW and an MFT or similar MA in counseling. If you go the latter path, you'll really want to make sure that the program is accredited with your state licensing board so that you can practice.

    I don't recall whether you said that private practice (PP) was your goal, but as someone else above suggested, you will need to accrue clinical hours as part of your masters training. If there are literally no such placements within a commutable distance from where you now live, then that's something to think about. But if there are, then those people (licensed folks, interns) could be a valuable resource. My guess is if schools are few and far between in your neck of the woods, the clinicians working in your area either all go to the nearest school or attended elsewhere and then moved to where you are?

    So here's the important part of advice that I can offer:

    WHICH PROGRAM YOU SELECT SHOULD BE THE RESULT OF YOU REALLY KNOWING WHAT YOU WANT AND WHO YOU ARE. I got talked out of applying for MFT programs because an MSW was the "smart" choice: more employable, better license, better financial prospects. All true facts (where I live), but generic advice designed around one "best" outcome unrelated to who I am as a person or what would serve me best. Got into a top MSW program. Hated it. It was reputed to be very clinical, but there is no way I could have been a competent clinician at the end of that program. I probably would have finished despite this, but it was so expensive that I simply couldn't justify it. Some people have the constitution to pay a bunch to get through a program in order to earn a "pedigree" and alumni network despite the fact that they're not learning what they feel they need to know to be competent. I'm not one of them. Profs at my undergrad university had poo-pooed the MFT and PsyD that I really wanted, and made it abundantly clear that the PhD was training for academics only, not clinicians. So I left and gave up on clinical work.

    Deep down I really knew that I wanted the psychology-based training I'd get in an MFT program, but I couldn't shake other's advice. Then I went the other direction...made an informed "smart" choice and picked a PhD program in a non-clinical social science discipline. This was a better fit but still not quite right, and the academic job market has crashed since I began, so I'm finding myself wishing that I'd just done an MFT or PsyD all those years ago.

    No social work masters will give you the same amount of clinical training as a counseling masters--to be accredited MSW programs have to cover policy, macro stuff as well. But you might find that either the training that they do offer, or the end result (degree, license) suits you best. That's why, in my opinion, it's really important to talk to current students, as well as thinking backwards from what you really want to do. You don't need to already know them--show up on campus and hang out--see if you can chat someone up. Or attend an "info session" and hang around before and after. Take someone to lunch--grad students love free food.

    The MSW may be right for YOU, or the MFT. Look at the curriculum from local schools and you'll see the difference in training and whether it meets your needs.

    Good luck!
     
    #49 wigflip, Jul 28, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2011
  51. wigflip

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    #50 wigflip, Jul 28, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2011

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