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PhD/PsyD MFT Ph.D./DMFT vs. Clinical Psychology - THIS IS NEW A NEW THREAD!

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dhcyoo

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Hello all!

After reading through the posts last couple of months, I decided to ask a question!
I've noticed a writer's brief background helps to have an effective and focused conversation. So here's my brief story.

My experiences
I am an Asian-American male who has BS/BA in Psychology and Sociology as a double major from a state university. I also have a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) from a reputable seminary. In both places, my GPA is about 3.4. After graduating seminary, I received an ordination and gained 3 years of full time ministry experience at a church, working with children/youth and parents. Currently, I am working as a chaplain at a trauma 1 hospital. Although, not directly related with clinical psychology, I believe my experiences add weights to my resume.

Why counseling?
I have always been interested in counseling. As many of would agree, my passion for this work derives from my own narrative. Experiencing wounds and healing have helped me to value this healing work. Counseling is personal and important for me.

Dillema: this is where I hope to hear your thoughts!
During my chaplaincy training, I learned about the family system. It gave me languages in my family dynamics which I was not able to articulate before. It was logical, sensible, and powerful in affecting not only the familial relationships but also relationship with self and others.

Last August (in 2015), I thought I wanted to become a MFT therapist which led me to apply to 2 masters programs in MFT, where I was accepted. However, as I am seriously considering counseling as my future career, I am wondering if MFT is too narrow of a field for me to be equipped as a counselor. I am passionate, eager to learn and comfortable about the family systems, yet when I think about the future, I want to make sure that I am trained in a program with professors who can discover and explore my full gifts. I believe MFT is one part of my gift; I know there's lot more in me.

So, now I am considering clinical psychology. I want to be in a well balanced clinical & research program [3-4 (1 Clinical / 7 Research)]. These are my concerns: 1) Will I be able to get in with myGPA/lack of research experience and get funding? 2) Will I be able to enjoy the program as much as I would with MFT Ph.D./DMFT?

Goal
Many would respond to this dilemma with, "it depends on what you'd like to do." As true as it is, it's been one of the most frustrating thing to hear. Because who the hell knows what I'll be doing in 10 years! haha. I just know that I am passionate about and gifted in counseling and that I want to be in a program who can train me and guide me.

For now, my heart reaches out to clinical work, both with families and individuals. As a preacher, I also know that when I am excited about something, I will want to share about it actively; I do not want to give up on opportunities in teaching (This is part of the reason why I am pursuing Ph.D. instead of just masters). In terms of possible research areas, I am interested in relationships, communications, and families. Especially, I am interested in religious leaders' families and their wellbeing.

I think, with my experiences and passion, I could get into MFT in Ph.D. program. I would also like to apply to Clinical Psychology programs with MFT and Psychotherapy focused staff. (If you have suggestions for these schools, I would love to hear about them as well!)

My real questions
1) I would like to hear from Ph.D. in MFT or DMFT. Do you feel limited in your practices especially dealing with severe disorders?
2) If you become DMFT, are you considered a psychologist? Or are you a therapist with MFT in Ph.D.?
3) In Clinical Psych programs, do you feel well equipped with System theories and practices? It probably depends on the programs. I would love to hear some real experiences. Would you please let me know the background of your program as well?

Thank you for reading and replying to this rather lengthy post.
It's probably best to be succinct. But I wanted to make sure that I put myself out here for focused conversation. =)
 
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DynamicDidactic

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2) If you become DMFT, are you considered a psychologist? Or are you a therapist with MFT in Ph.D.?
I hope not. Not that its a territorial thing but I hope people consider you a marriage and family therapist with a PhD. Otherwise, its seems a bit dishonest.
 

dhcyoo

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Thanks for your response, Dynamicdidactic! You're my first responder in this forum ever haha. May I ask you what you do?
 

PsychScience

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So, now I am considering clinical psychology. I want to be in a well balanced clinical & research program [3-4 (1 Clinical / 7 Research)]. These are my concerns: 1) Will I be able to get in with myGPA/lack of research experience and get funding? 2) Will I be able to enjoy the program as much as I would with MFT Ph.D./DMFT?

If you want to get into a funded PhD program in clinical psychology, you will definitely need to get more research experience. The GPA is slightly below average for most programs. I'm particularly surprised by the low gpa in your MDiv program. That might hurt you more than the lowish undergrad gpa. As for (2) No one can really answer this for you.

Goal
Many would respond to this dilemma with, "it depends on what you'd like to do." As true as it is, it's been one of the most frustrating thing to hear. Because who the hell knows what I'll be doing in 10 years! haha. I just know that I am passionate about and gifted in counseling and that I want to be in a program who can train me and guide me.

I would be careful in stating that you are gifted in counseling when you are not yet a counselor. You may (or may not, I do not know you) be a wonderful spiritual advisor and gifted in pastoral care, but you have no idea if you are gifted in counseling (at least in the professional degree sense of the word). If I read this in a personal statement, it would be a major red flag (IMO).

My real questions
3) In Clinical Psych programs, do you feel well equipped with System theories and practices? It probably depends on the programs. I would love to hear some real experiences. Would you please let me know the background of your program as well?

Yes, my clinical psych PhD program trained me extraordinarily well in system theories, but some of this training I sought out because I was interested in working with children/families. This likely varies by program as some programs emphasize training in some areas more than others. I attended a very balanced research/clinical program.

EDITED TO ADD:
To echo what has already been said, you can not call yourself a psychologist with a PhD in MFT.
 
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PsychMajorUndergrad18

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Mr. dhcyoo,

Another option you have if you value the religious experience is to apply for the Psychology doctoral program at Fuller Seminary and gain a good amount of clinical experience. Fuller may take you in with your divinity background and lack of research experience. But if you do go to Fuller make sure you try your hardest to get a APA accredited internship and post-doc afterwards.
 

PsychScience

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Another option you have if you value the religious experience is to apply for the Psychology doctoral program at Fuller Seminary and gain a good amount of clinical experience. Fuller may take you in with your divinity background and lack of research experience. But if you do go to Fuller make sure you try your hardest to get a APA accredited internship and post-doc afterwards.

Loma Linda also comes to mind.... However, I'm not sure about their funding, eppp pass rates, or match rates? I would encourage you to look into all 3 of those things first, but a clinical psych Phd from an explicitly religious institution might be a good fit for your background and interests.
 

smalltownpsych

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I would vote for pursuing a funded PhD program to become a psychologist.
1. I am a psychologist and think we are the best. :cool:
2. There is still lots of research to be done on spirituality and religion and coping and reaction to trauma and mental illness in general. Keep in mind that religious beliefs can both help and be a problem.
3. I also feel that religious beliefs and perspective and other humanistic or philosophical views can contribute to effective treatment; however, it can be problematic when not firmly grounded in the science and research and this is a strength of a psychologist.

With your background, you might be able to find some volunteer opportunities at research labs that are doing work in this area in order to get the requisite experience in this area. It might be worth it to work on that route as opposed to the more expensive PsyD route.
 
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theblacks

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2017 bump! thanks to OP. updates? i am exploring these programs as well.
 

WisNeuro

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dhcyoo

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Hello!

Haha! I have forgotten about this post. Thanks for reminding me.

Updates - I decided to apply for a Ph.D. in psychology last year; I did not get in. This year, I have more research experiences including a published paper, and am preparing for GRE at this moment. I think GRE is one of the hardest part for me at this time - just too much anxiety around the test whew. I'd be curious to hear other's plans or thoughts who are in the similar situation!
 
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AcronymAllergy

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Hello!

Haha! I have forgotten about this post. Thanks for reminding me.

Updates - I decided to apply for a Ph.D. in psychology last year; I did not get in. This year, I have more research experiences including a published paper, and am preparing for GRE at this moment. I think GRE is one of the hardest part for me at this time - just too much anxiety around the test whew. I'd be curious to hear other's plans or thoughts who are in the similar situation!

The GRE can be anxiety-provoking for a number of folks. Feeling well-preparing and having gone through at least a few practice exams often seems to help. My own study schedule was akin to spending an hour or so/day, 5 days/week studying GRE material for 2-3 months. I actually did most of the studying during downtime between research participants while I was RAing as an undergrad (I didn't have anything better to do anyway). About half-way through, I took a practice exam to evaluate my progress. Then I took another a couple weeks before the real deal. Seemed to work relatively well in my case.
 

foreverbull

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Why not Counseling Psychology? Very similar to Clinical and with the same career opportunities, just a different foundational philosophy and a few different class requirements. In practice, they're nearly identical these days.

I just want to note that a doctorate in California in MFT appears to fall under the same license as a LMFT (meaning you can't be licensed as a Licensed Doctoral MFT at all; or if you can, it's not easily found on the website..so you have a master's level license as a doctoral graduate). The Board of Psychology in CA doesn't recognize a doctorate in MFT as a psychologist; it falls under the Board of Behavioral Sciences for master's level practitioners.
If you don't want a bunch of people asking you questions about what your DMFT degree means, you might want to try for a Counseling or Clinical Psychology program. You can still be a relationship/marriage and family expert/specialist in Counseling or Clinical...no problem.

Not sure about other states, but the DMFT is rare and might limit your career options, at least in some states.
 
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theblacks

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@dhcyoo good luck! i am planning on taking the gre over the summer too. coming from a graduate background in biochemistry, i never imagined that i would be considering psychology now!

@foreverbull thank you for your input. i was curious about the distinction and your post led me to a nice site with a brief history on counseling psychology, http://www.div17.org/about-cp/counseling-vs-clinical-psychology/. i still cannot help being curious about the DMFT, especially the program at loma linda.

thank you OP ~ this is all very new for me and your thread is one of a kind!
 
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Sharewithme

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I'm looking into Family Systems Theory now more, too. In my career in addition to doing research, I'd like to practice with individuals, and I'm looking at applying for Ph.D. counseling psychology programs mainly. Whether working with individuals or families, people come from families, so knowing how they communicate (or don't) I think is very helpful. Interaction patterns in families can carry over to interaction patterns with others. I wish you luck!
 

foreverbull

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I'm looking into Family Systems Theory now more, too. In my career in addition to doing research, I'd like to practice with individuals, and I'm looking at applying for Ph.D. counseling psychology programs mainly. Whether working with individuals or families, people come from families, so knowing how they communicate (or don't) I think is very helpful. Interaction patterns in families can carry over to interaction patterns with others. I wish you luck!

There are a lot of good counseling psychology programs out there! You will most likely have to research each one to see which ones have a family systems focus (research-wise or other).
Link to the APA-accredited counseling psychology program list:
http://www.div17.org/about-cp/list-of-apa-accredited-counseling-psychology-phd-and-psyd-programs/
 
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