Aug 21, 2016
Hi there,

I've been following the forum for a while, but I haven't found the information I'm looking for. If this should be in another thread, I'm so sorry! I'm trying to figure out a career trajectory and I could really use some input. My goal is to have a private practice and to write or create some kind of course materials as well. Specifically I would like to work in online therapy, figuring out how to utilize technology in mental healthcare. My dream scenario is to practice online therapy part-time and to create a web-based program anyone can use as a supplement to therapy.

I live in CA and have plans to acquire MFT and LPCC licenses (either or both) after completing an M.S. program. I had originally planned on going for a Ph.D. so that I could focus more on research in the realm of online therapy or psychology+technology, but I am not a desirable candidate at this point (I have a B.A. in English and no research experience whatsoever). In CA I can practice privately without a doctorate, so I figured that would be a good place to start. I would like to leave my options open so that I can go back to get my doctorate down the line if I need or desire to.

I would like to enroll in a program in the fall of 2017 that has been evaluated and approved by the CA Board of Behavioral Sciences for both the LPCC and MFT licenses so that I can obtain one or both of the licenses as quickly as possible. I have also been looking at CACREP accredited programs. Unfortunately, the only programs I've found that meet all three of those criteria (CACREP, MFT, and LPCC) so far are degrees in counseling rather than psychology.

Any input would be appreciated, but I do have a few specific questions.

1) I know that a research-oriented M.S. would be best for admittance into a Ph.D. program, but it is not best for getting licensed or starting practice as a therapist. Will an M.S. in Counseling help my chances of getting into a Ph.D. program at all? I am open to volunteering as a research assistant while there. Will it make a difference if I choose a program with a thesis option? Will it being CACREP accredited help, hurt, or have no impact?

2) Does the career description I have given sound like something that can be accomplished with an M.S., or will I need a Ph.D.?

I am 27 years old, and I would like to start working as soon as possible. That's primarily why I'm trying to figure out the quickest/most efficient way to get the necessary education and credentials.

Thanks so much for your help!


Counseling Psychologist
5+ Year Member
Mar 2, 2013
1. It depends on the program, but I wouldn't think of the MS as helping so much as giving the opportunity to develop the metrics that graduate admission committees are interested in. Namely, you can document your ability to perform at a graduate level in psychology, that you are interested in a specific focal area/area of fit, and that you are able/willing to become involved in research and produce products (posters/papers). A thesis is a prime instance of being able to demonstrate that. Most (none that I know of, but perhaps there is one..somewhere) programs do not use the MA/MS as a 'waiver everything taken' and some programs may not waive any coursework, but that is a program specific thing. If the ultimate goal is a degree in psychology at a doctoral level then demonstrating research is key- thesis, independent projects, lab involvement, etc. I know folks who came from english BAs, but they had the research part nailed. The door for doctoral studies is always open given those metrics (research, focus/fit, etc).

2. CACREP is a counseling accreditation agency so I wouldn't worry about if it says 'psychology' or not. It's a big argument over domain between the APA and the ACA thats probably beyond what is important, but that is the context for some of the things gong on behind CACREP. I would examine the quality of the training programs, the ability to get licensed, what the license allows you do with within the state, the cost for that degree, etc. Most PhD programs with masters in counseling do not have CACREP accredidation because CACREP does not allow faculty to be involved in any other training program (so, the faculty teaching doctoral courses cannot be part of a CACREP masters).

3. I am unfamiliar with CA state laws so I can't speak to if those licenses are appropriate for what you describe, but if you want to practice as a therapist there is a lot to be said for going after a masters instead of a PhD. It all depends on what you want practice to look like. I would recommend shadowing/talking to individuals who have those licenses doing what you want to do and see what their thoughts are on the process, outcomes, advantages/disadvantages, etc.
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Psychologist, Academic Medical Center
7+ Year Member
Aug 2, 2010
My dream scenario is to practice online therapy part-time and to create a web-based program anyone can use as a supplement to therapy.
You can practice online as a professional counselor or MFT. Plenty do. Developing and selling standalone web-based interventions requires many skills (expertise in a specific subject area, intervention research and development, web design, programming, marketing), so it's up to you to decide which ones you want to develop on your own and which you would rather leave to collaborators or consultants. Even someone with a Ph.D. who focused their research on web-based interventions would still most likely need web design, programming, and marketing support. It's a huge amount of work to do this well.

Whether you attend a CACREP-accredited program is irrelevant to future Ph.D. admissions. Counseling is its own profession separate from psychology.
Dec 4, 2014
I don't think that whether a program is counseling vs. psychology in name will really matter if you decide to pursue a PhD. I agree with what justanothergrad takes above on this topic. My master's was very counseling focused, but I managed to also do some research while I was there (I did not do a thesis though). I think it helped me in the ways justanothergrad mentioned - demonstrating a serious interests and some ability to pursue a rigorous program. Speaking from my own personal experience, I would recommend doing a thesis as part of your MS because it will free up more time to focus on other things (e.g., maybe working on meeting other milestones sooner) if you end up going PhD route. I can't speak to any of the other issues you raise. Good luck!


Regional Clinical Officer, Centene Corporation
10+ Year Member
Apr 6, 2007
Louisville, KY
Re: web based adjuncts to therapy-There's an app for that already.

You are probably a decade late on that R&D.