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Should I bypass a niche Masters for a PhD with little experience? Or is that ridiculous?

howardshouse

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Folks, I'm trying to gauge whether to get a Masters of Couples & Family Therapy first ⁠— something I’m certain I’d love, but wouldn't provide as broad opportunities down the road ⁠— or whether to go directly for a PhD in Clinical Psychology. Your insights would be really appreciated.

My interest in a psychology career developed post-understand. My Bachelors was in Women's and Gender Studies and Political Science. I did very well in school, 3.95 GPA, never took the GRE. I currently work as a certified life coach (my niche is codependency recovery) and have been successfully self-employed for about three years. I’ve worked with over 100 clients one-on-one. It’s rewarding work but I’m aware that 1) the field is filled with “coaches” who are not certified and have little to no experience, 2) various modalities in which we were trained are not science-supported, and 3) coaching isn’t psychology, and it’s psychology that excites me.

I have little (honestly, no) quantitative research experience. My undergrad was social science-heavy. If I were to apply for a PhD, I think I'd need to get a volunteer RA role in a lab beforehand to make sure I actually like research. (Maybe take a psych stats course at a local university, too?)

Bottom line: Here are my options, as I see them.
  1. Get Masters in Couples & Family Therapy. Get quantitative experience and coursework. Spend $70K, emerge with debt. Realize I definitely don't want to do PhD/research. Live happily ever after.
  2. Get Masters in Couples & Family Therapy. Get quantitative experience and coursework. Spend $70K, emerge with debt. Realize I REALLY want to get my PhD because, as I predicted, I want to do research and broaden the scope of my field. But now I'm $70K in debt and I'm terrified to go into MORE debt and I also just wasted 2 years of my life getting a Masters degree ⁠— a degree I'd get in the course of getting my PhD. Sad and broke.
  3. Skip the Masters, instead apply for PhD programs this winter because why not. Probably don't get in. Spend my winter and following year preparing for PhD applications. Feel bummed to spend a year working & not learning in an academic setting.
  4. Skip the Masters, get an RA volunteer position ASAP. Take psych stats at a local university. Apply for PhD programs next year or the following.

My ideal future career involves a combination of private practice, testing, research, and education (though not in academia ⁠— more like workshops). I don't want my lack of quantitative experience to dissuade me from pursuing my dream career.

Do you have any advice for insight for me? Also, if I sound horribly naive or in need of some sense-talking, give it to me straight ⁠— I can take it!

PS: I’ve spent a great deal of time on this forum over the past few weeks and I’m grateful to all who donate their time, energy, and emotional resources here.
 

howardshouse

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The answer is almost always never emerge with debt.

Appreciate you taking the time to comment! My understanding is that only PhDs in psych are funded or partially funded, so most Masters programs would inevitably leave me with some degree of debt. That being the case, would you says Masters programs are rarely worth the expense?
 
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PsyDuck90

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I would go with option 4. It gives you the opportunity to explore the research world and see if a PhD is something you want to pursue. Also, going into debt for $70K when it will take you awhile to even start making that as an MFT is going to leave you with substantially more than $70K in debt.
 
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howardshouse

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I would go with option 4. It gives you the opportunity to explore the research world and see if a PhD is something you want to pursue. Also, going into debt for $70K when it will take you awhile to even start making that as an MFT is going to leave you with substantially more than $70K in debt.

Thank you for taking the time to comment! Option 4 does feel like it gives me the time/experience I'd need to make the most informed decision.
 

PsyDr

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Life coaching is extremely poorly regarded. It is a pseudofield with an entrance requirement of ZERO education. In demonstrating that you are willing to practice without any formal education that qualifies you to practice, you are showing admissions that you are not willing to play by the game.
 
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summerbabe

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I completed a PhD in Counseling at a school that also had an MFT program and knew some of the MFT students. One student I knew took the initiative to do research and ended up doing onto a doctorate in MFT while the others were solely focused on clinical careers. This will certainly vary by location but from my experience, quant and research opportunities may be limited in some standalone MS programs due to lack of faculty and student need for this skillset.

I was an undergrad philosophy major and started off in a MS in counseling program that shared coursework with folks completing a PhD in Counseling Psych so many of the courses during the first 2 years were combined. There was also a requirement to be part of a research team that included PhD and MS students so it gave me the experience and mentoring needed to move onto a PhD program.

Good luck!
 
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howardshouse

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Life coaching is extremely poorly regarded. It is a pseudofield with an entrance requirement of ZERO education. In demonstrating that you are willing to practice without any formal education that qualifies you to practice, you are showing admissions that you are not willing to play by the game.

I recognize that Life Coaching isn't well-regarded in the psychology community ⁠— but are you saying that I should omit my last 3 years of professional experience from my resume?

I was certified by an institution that is certified by the International Coaching Federation, and I'm confused by your point that including coaching on my resume would show admissions that I'm not willing to "play by the rules." Life Coaches don't claim to practice by the rules of therapists because we're not therapists... We have different standards of practice and ethical standards, but it's not an entirely lawless body if you go through the certification process.

I appreciate your feedback and completely understand ill-regard for coaches in the psychology community, but question the approach of eliminating it completely from my application.
 

PsyDr

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I recognize that Life Coaching isn't well-regarded in the psychology community ⁠— but are you saying that I should omit my last 3 years of professional experience from my resume?

I was certified by an institution that is certified by the International Coaching Federation, and I'm confused by your point that including coaching on my resume would show admissions that I'm not willing to "play by the rules." Life Coaches don't claim to practice by the rules of therapists because we're not therapists... We have different standards of practice and ethical standards, but it's not an entirely lawless body if you go through the certification process.

I appreciate your feedback and completely understand ill-regard for coaches in the psychology community, but question the approach of eliminating it completely from my application.

1). Let’s start out with this: there are NO educational requirements for life coaching. Literally a high school drop out could become a life coach. Any certifications from a group with no educational standards is fruit of a poisoned tree.

2) there is no license for life coaching. Would you go to an unlicensed dentist who calls himself something else?

3) you have zero formal education in co-dependence.

4) psychologists are required to have 5-10 years of specific education, and get licensed before they can practice. This is a TON of work. They are also bound by ethics that include practicing in accordance with your education.

5) Say you completed 10 years of education after your BA, sacrificed, worked your way up to get on an admission committee. You’re staring at 100+ applications for 10-20 spots. You need to whittle that stack of applications down. Sorting by GPA and GRE does a lot. Let’s say there are now 75 real applications. Then you start looking through the rest. One application is from someone who decided to just start treating patients with zero education, zero license. Does that sound safe? Does that sound like someone who is gonna be reckless? Is the idea that you could have just skipped 14 years of education piss you off? Condense that into about a 20 second decision where that application is compared to someone without those issues. Who are you gonna choose?
 
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howardshouse

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1). Let’s start out with this: there are NO educational requirements for life coaching. Literally a high school drop out could become a life coach. Any certifications from a group with no educational standards is fruit of a poisoned tree.

2) there is no license for life coaching. Would you go to an unlicensed dentist who calls himself something else?

3) you have zero formal education in co-dependence.

4) psychologists are required to have 5-10 years of specific education, and get licensed before they can practice. This is a TON of work. They are also bound by ethics that include practicing in accordance with your education.

5) Say you completed 10 years of education after your BA, sacrificed, worked your way up to get on an admission committee. You’re staring at 100+ applications for 10-20 spots. You need to whittle that stack of applications down. Sorting by GPA and GRE does a lot. Let’s say there are now 75 real applications. Then you start looking through the rest. One application is from someone who decided to just start treating patients with zero education, zero license. Does that sound safe? Does that sound like someone who is gonna be reckless? Is the idea that you could have just skipped 14 years of education piss you off? Condense that into about a 20 second decision where that application is compared to someone without those issues. Who are you gonna choose?

I appreciate the time you took to write this comment and shed light on this perspective. You will not be the only person I encounter with this viewpoint and will need to be prepared should I interact with such folks in my application process, so thank you for that.


That said, aside from finding a time machine and re-doing my last five years of education and professional advancement, I’m not sure what constructive advice I could possibly take away from your comments aside from: “Don’t do it, they won’t respect you, you’ve had an irresponsible career thus far, you won’t stand a chance.” And not proceeding is not one of the Options I mentioned in my original post, so I will respectfully decline this advice.
 

howardshouse

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I completed a PhD in Counseling at a school that also had an MFT program and knew some of the MFT students. One student I knew took the initiative to do research and ended up doing onto a doctorate in MFT while the others were solely focused on clinical careers. This will certainly vary by location but from my experience, quant and research opportunities may be limited in some standalone MS programs due to lack of faculty and student need for this skillset.

I was an undergrad philosophy major and started off in a MS in counseling program that shared coursework with folks completing a PhD in Counseling Psych so many of the courses during the first 2 years were combined. There was also a requirement to be part of a research team that included PhD and MS students so it gave me the experience and mentoring needed to move onto a PhD program.

Good luck!

Really appreciate your insight and experience here ⁠— thank you for sharing! Awesome to hear how smooth your journey was from MS to PhD.
 

Justanothergrad

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Appreciate you taking the time to comment! My understanding is that only PhDs in psych are funded or partially funded, so most Masters programs would inevitably leave me with some degree of debt. That being the case, would you says Masters programs are rarely worth the expense?
partially true. there are also funded masters (although they are rarer). I did one myself. they tend to be research focused clinical programs that feed doctoral programs. I wouldnt do most masters if it meant debt.
 
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MamaPhD

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Skip the Masters, get an RA volunteer position ASAP. Take psych stats at a local university. Apply for PhD programs next year or the following.

I vote for this option, except try to get a paid RA position if you can!

I don't think it is worthwhile for you to apply to doctoral programs this year when you could invest your time and effort into becoming a stronger candidate in a couple of years. To be candid, you have virtually no chance being accepted to a funded PhD program with your current credentials.

Also, I know this wasn't one of the options you mentioned, but be aware that a clinically oriented master's degree will not position you well for a PhD program down the line, if you think you might be unsure. A research-oriented master's would be better preparation, but in your case focusing your time and effort on research experience (and taking a few psych prereqs) is what I'd recommend.

It’s rewarding work but I’m aware that 1) the field is filled with “coaches” who are not certified and have little to no experience, 2) various modalities in which we were trained are not science-supported, and 3) coaching isn’t psychology, and it’s psychology that excites me.

By the time you are ready to apply to PhD programs, you should have enough research experience and enough insight into what psychologists do to be able to focus on your scholarly and clinical interests in your personal statement and interview. The coaching issue will raise some eyebrows. I don't advocate for being dishonest about your work history, but it's just not something I would emphasize in your application materials.
 
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howardshouse

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I vote for this option, except try to get a paid RA position if you can!

I don't think it is worthwhile for you to apply to doctoral programs this year when you could invest your time and effort into becoming a stronger candidate in a couple of years. To be candid, you have virtually no chance being accepted to a funded PhD program with your current credentials.

Also, I know this wasn't one of the options you mentioned, but be aware that a clinically oriented master's degree will not position you well for a PhD program down the line, if you think you might be unsure. A research-oriented master's would be better preparation, but in your case focusing your time and effort on research experience (and taking a few psych prereqs) is what I'd recommend.



By the time you are ready to apply to PhD programs, you should have enough research experience and enough insight into what psychologists do to be able to focus on your scholarly and clinical interests in your personal statement and interview. The coaching issue will raise some eyebrows. I don't advocate for being dishonest about your work history, but it's just not something I would emphasize in your application materials.

I deeply appreciate your candidness because it's exactly what I need ⁠— it will help inform my decision! And thank you for the note about the clinically-oriented vs. research-oriented Masters.

While I anticipated that coaching might be looked at skeptically by admissions committees (I myself balk at the celebritized depictions of green-smoothie, self-help-culture coaches), I honestly hadn't guessed that it might be a detriment to my application. It's hard to swallow as it's how I've spent my last three years. I had guessed (perhaps incorrectly) that my coaching experience would indicate an interest in the field of mental health, something admissions committees would view positively.

I acknowledge wholeheartedly the limitations of my practice and don't for a moment think that it constitutes anything like therapy ⁠— but is it possible that admissions folks will view it positively, at the very least in terms of skill-building? Building rapport, building trust with clients, active listening, etc.?
 

PsychPhDone

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I deeply appreciate your candidness because it's exactly what I need ⁠— it will help inform my decision! And thank you for the note about the clinically-oriented vs. research-oriented Masters.

While I anticipated that coaching might be looked at skeptically by admissions committees (I myself balk at the celebritized depictions of green-smoothie, self-help-culture coaches), I honestly hadn't guessed that it might be a detriment to my application. It's hard to swallow as it's how I've spent my last three years. I had guessed (perhaps incorrectly) that my coaching experience would indicate an interest in the field of mental health, something admissions committees would view positively.

I acknowledge wholeheartedly the limitations of my practice and don't for a moment think that it constitutes anything like therapy ⁠— but is it possible that admissions folks will view it positively, at the very least in terms of skill-building? Building rapport, building trust with clients, active listening, etc.?
To be totally honest, I think it's very unlikely. You're going to have to find a thoughtful way to spin it when it's application time

I fully agree with @MamaPhD and recommend option 4.
 
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summerbabe

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I acknowledge wholeheartedly the limitations of my practice and don't for a moment think that it constitutes anything like therapy ⁠— but is it possible that admissions folks will view it positively, at the very least in terms of skill-building? Building rapport, building trust with clients, active listening, etc.?
Some programs may be more open/enthusiastic about this background and others will be more cautious/biased. There are rigid folks in psychology and especially in academia (e.g., 'If you're not 100% adhering to a empirically supported protocol, then you shouldn't be providing an intervention") but perhaps based on what you value about life coaching, those programs may be a poor personal fit for you.

I think it can potentially be seen as a strength, especially if you're applying to a MS level program where the majority of folks' hands-on experiences are generally limited to peer counseling, residence life, volunteering for local non-profits, etc. And if you can articulate in personal statements/interviews about how these experiences prompted your interest in gaining scientifically-informed, formalized training in psychotherapy as a next step in your career.

My ideal future career involves a combination of private practice, testing, research, and education (though not in academia ⁠— more like workshops). I don't want my lack of quantitative experience to dissuade me from pursuing my dream career.
I don't want to dissuade you from any dream careers but a lot of people during grad school say they eventually want a combo of therapy, assessment, and research and from my experience as an early career psychologist, most end up settling for just one of these roles. I work in the VA and my particular clinic requires a mix of brief therapy and assessment and I consider myself very lucky to have that variety.

You're in private practice already and appear to like it. A master's level degree (MFT, LPC, LSCW) would provide opportunities to continue to work in PP and sit on insurance panels while also potentially allowing you to expand your clinical focus.

So what exactly about testing interests you? And research? What's your current level of exposure to both? How informed are you about the logistics of doing either professionally and the barriers that one might encounter?
 
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Sanman

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I don't want to dissuade you from any dream careers but a lot of people during grad school say they eventually want a combo of therapy, assessment, and research and from my experience as an early career psychologist, most end up settling for just one of these roles. I work in the VA and my particular clinic requires a mix of brief therapy and assessment and I consider myself very lucky to have that variety.

You're in private practice already and appear to like it. A master's level degree (MFT, LPC, LSCW) would provide opportunities to continue to work in PP and sit on insurance panels while also potentially allowing you to expand your clinical focus.

So what exactly about testing interests you? And research? What's your current level of exposure to both? How informed are you about the logistics of doing either professionally and the barriers that one might encounter?


This is very true and a good question. Additionally, you don't need a doctorate to teach workshops. Experienced masters level folks do it all the time. So that leaves research. Other things to consider:

You don't say what your lifestyle expectations are (salary? how flexible are you on living anywhere in the country?) Realistically, a research career is unlikely to happen without years of bouncing from location to location working with the best in the field (not just with anyone). Are you ready to make at least two moves? If you are established in life and not ready to make those moves, reconsider the masters route. If you are willing to spend the next 10 yrs chasing an education, go find a good RA position and start working on getting into a PhD program.
 
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R. Matey

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You're in private practice already and appear to like it. A master's level degree (MFT, LPC, LSCW) would provide opportunities to continue to work in PP and sit on insurance panels while also potentially allowing you to expand your clinical focus.

The only thing I have to say about this is that while true a master's degree can provide these opportunities, they are (1) very limited and (2) very competitive especially if you're living in a desirable area of the country. Some IPs have a competitive application process for master's level clinicians where they don't for psychologists. As far as trainings are concerned, it takes a while to establish yourself as an expert prior to doing the trainings which usually requires supervised (read "you pay for it") post-master's experience. I'm all for MSWs if people just want to do therapy, but people should know what they're getting themselves into. OP, really think about your career goals and find people who are doing what you want to be doing. What's their level of education, training, and experience?
 
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Option 4

I agree with the others that coaching will be perceived quite negatively on applications. Come up with a good story to explain this.

International Coaching Federation

Is this a regulatory body that can take action on coaches, or do they just take money from people?

We have different standards of practice and ethical standards

Can you attach or send a link - I am super curious to read these standards.
 
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PsyDr

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I appreciate the time you took to write this comment and shed light on this perspective. You will not be the only person I encounter with this viewpoint and will need to be prepared should I interact with such folks in my application process, so thank you for that.


That said, aside from finding a time machine and re-doing my last five years of education and professional advancement, I’m not sure what constructive advice I could possibly take away from your comments aside from: “Don’t do it, they won’t respect you, you’ve had an irresponsible career thus far, you won’t stand a chance.” And not proceeding is not one of the Options I mentioned in my original post, so I will respectfully decline this advice.

That's not all you asked for though. You asked:

Do you have any advice for insight for me? Also, if I sound horribly naive or in need of some sense-talking, give it to me straight ⁠— I can take it!

I provided some advice that while semi-harsh, could be helpful. In your posts, you present your experience as net positive. I think it is highly negative. If you choose to try to get formal education, you would be wise to avoid justifying your previous career choices or presenting them as a positive thing. That is an actionable step you could take from that advice. It would be humbling. It would not be pleasant. But it would likely improve your chances at achieving your goal.


@AbnormalPsych their ethics code is basically, "Don't discriminate, try to do good". Their board of directors has zero USA members with ANY degrees vaguely related to psychology.
 
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MamaPhD

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I acknowledge wholeheartedly the limitations of my practice and don't for a moment think that it constitutes anything like therapy ⁠— but is it possible that admissions folks will view it positively, at the very least in terms of skill-building? Building rapport, building trust with clients, active listening, etc.?

At best it will be viewed neutrally, or perhaps as a learning experience depending on how you frame it (i.e., you've learned the limits of working in a space that doesn't necessarily value evidence or scientific traditions). I think your coaching experience shows that you have a general interest in well being and helping professions, but it does not demonstrate interest or knowledge of psychology specifically. That will need to come from other experiences. Admissions committees are looking for your well-informed answer to the question "why psychology?" They are well aware that many people seeking training in psychology would be well served in master's level training, and they are looking for people whose goals and interests really line up with the unique training and competencies that psychology programs provide.

For what it's worth, you are not expected to enter a doctoral program with skills, merely the potential to learn them. And occasionally, faculty are a little wary of taking on trainees who have related clinical experience because it's harder to "unlearn" than to be taught a skill for the first time.
 
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msc545

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Folks, I'm trying to gauge whether to get a Masters of Couples & Family Therapy first ⁠— something I’m certain I’d love, but wouldn't provide as broad opportunities down the road ⁠— or whether to go directly for a PhD in Clinical Psychology. Your insights would be really appreciated.

My interest in a psychology career developed post-understand. My Bachelors was in Women's and Gender Studies and Political Science. I did very well in school, 3.95 GPA, never took the GRE. I currently work as a certified life coach (my niche is codependency recovery) and have been successfully self-employed for about three years. I’ve worked with over 100 clients one-on-one. It’s rewarding work but I’m aware that 1) the field is filled with “coaches” who are not certified and have little to no experience, 2) various modalities in which we were trained are not science-supported, and 3) coaching isn’t psychology, and it’s psychology that excites me.

I have little (honestly, no) quantitative research experience. My undergrad was social science-heavy. If I were to apply for a PhD, I think I'd need to get a volunteer RA role in a lab beforehand to make sure I actually like research. (Maybe take a psych stats course at a local university, too?)

Bottom line: Here are my options, as I see them.
  1. Get Masters in Couples & Family Therapy. Get quantitative experience and coursework. Spend $70K, emerge with debt. Realize I definitely don't want to do PhD/research. Live happily ever after.
  2. Get Masters in Couples & Family Therapy. Get quantitative experience and coursework. Spend $70K, emerge with debt. Realize I REALLY want to get my PhD because, as I predicted, I want to do research and broaden the scope of my field. But now I'm $70K in debt and I'm terrified to go into MORE debt and I also just wasted 2 years of my life getting a Masters degree ⁠— a degree I'd get in the course of getting my PhD. Sad and broke.
  3. Skip the Masters, instead apply for PhD programs this winter because why not. Probably don't get in. Spend my winter and following year preparing for PhD applications. Feel bummed to spend a year working & not learning in an academic setting.
  4. Skip the Masters, get an RA volunteer position ASAP. Take psych stats at a local university. Apply for PhD programs next year or the following.

My ideal future career involves a combination of private practice, testing, research, and education (though not in academia ⁠— more like workshops). I don't want my lack of quantitative experience to dissuade me from pursuing my dream career.

Do you have any advice for insight for me? Also, if I sound horribly naive or in need of some sense-talking, give it to me straight ⁠— I can take it!

PS: I’ve spent a great deal of time on this forum over the past few weeks and I’m grateful to all who donate their time, energy, and emotional resources here.


I think your best bet is option 4. You will find that stats and research design is not particularly difficult to learn and you may actually enjoy it. When you finally do go to apply to Ph.D. programs, I concur with the prior posters who advised you to NOT reveal your coaching background, as it will not be looked upon favorably at all by admissions committees.
 
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Justanothergrad

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at only 23 bucks, is it wrong to consider getting certified? I've spent more for worse evenings of laughs

And this is the problem with our profession - a lack of standards and regulation leads to garbage like this. How can we expect decent pay and respect when things like this are associated with us ?
 

PsyDr

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And this is the problem with our profession - a lack of standards and regulation leads to garbage like this. How can we expect decent pay and respect when things like this are associated with us ?

If you think life coaching is in any way associated with clinical psychology, you’re part of that problem.
 
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@MamaPhD 's above posts say more eloquently anything that I would say but I second all of those comments.

I do want to add the following perspective: I am of the mind that you can't just eliminate several years from your resume/CV without raising suspicion, and I DO think that IF you were willing to to put some time into thinking critically about it and be humble about your experience as a coach, you could turn the experience into a really solid platform for why you want to pursue formal education in evidence-based approaches / research. I think that being able to step back and take a more objective eye to one's own areas of strength/weakness (in both personal abilities and in experience) is an invaluable component of being/becoming/remaining a competent professional, but a skill which, very unfortunately, some professionals sorely lack to the detriment of everyone around them. if someone were to come to me with coaching experience AND really solid argument for why they realized they needed to change course and showed they'd really done their research, and also had the ability to be humble about their experience and acknowledge with some accuracy their strengths and weaknesses, I would actually look on that quite favorably as a sign of maturity and ability to admit to a need to change, and willingness to put in hard work to learn more and to engage in honest personal introspection/evaluation even when it is uncomfortable for the sake of ultimately becoming better and more competent. So I don't think you will necessarily find that everyone will think of it negatively- it is all in how you frame it, but you must be able to do that genuinely and that depth of critical thinking may take some time and research. Also, I commend you in your ability to take what may come across as somewhat harsh (but honest and helpful nonetheless) feedback with grace. That, also, is a very critical skill of professionalism-every time I see someone losing their **** on this forum because someone gave blunt feedback that bruised their ego a little bit, I just shake my head and hope they decide to take a different path in life.
 
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howardshouse

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@MamaPhD 's above posts say more eloquently anything that I would say but I second all of those comments.

I do want to add the following perspective: I am of the mind that you can't just eliminate several years from your resume/CV without raising suspicion, and I DO think that IF you were willing to to put some time into thinking critically about it and be humble about your experience as a coach, you could turn the experience into a really solid platform for why you want to pursue formal education in evidence-based approaches / research. I think that being able to step back and take a more objective eye to one's own areas of strength/weakness (in both personal abilities and in experience) is an invaluable component of being/becoming/remaining a competent professional, but a skill which, very unfortunately, some professionals sorely lack to the detriment of everyone around them. if someone were to come to me with coaching experience AND really solid argument for why they realized they needed to change course and showed they'd really done their research, and also had the ability to be humble about their experience and acknowledge with some accuracy their strengths and weaknesses, I would actually look on that quite favorably as a sign of maturity and ability to admit to a need to change, and willingness to put in hard work to learn more and to engage in honest personal introspection/evaluation even when it is uncomfortable for the sake of ultimately becoming better and more competent. So I don't think you will necessarily find that everyone will think of it negatively- it is all in how you frame it, but you must be able to do that genuinely and that depth of critical thinking may take some time and research. Also, I commend you in your ability to take what may come across as somewhat harsh (but honest and helpful nonetheless) feedback with grace. That, also, is a very critical skill of professionalism-every time I see someone losing their **** on this forum because someone gave blunt feedback that bruised their ego a little bit, I just shake my head and hope they decide to take a different path in life.

This is invaluable feedback, thank you! I love your emphasis on humility ⁠— something I'm working on personally and professionally. To your point about acknowledging the strengths/weaknesses of prior experience, absolutely ⁠— I'll be the first to critique the field of coaching. My time in this career has highlighted the infinite limitations in this field, and its (almost utter) absence of scientific foundation is precisely what's driving me toward psychotherapy.

"if someone were to come to me with coaching experience AND really solid argument for why they realized they needed to change course and showed they'd really done their research, and also had the ability to be humble about their experience and acknowledge with some accuracy their strengths and weaknesses, I would actually look on that quite favorably as a sign of maturity and ability to admit to a need to change, and willingness to put in hard work to learn more and to engage in honest personal introspection/evaluation even when it is uncomfortable for the sake of ultimately becoming better and more competent."

Thank you for framing it this way. This is exactly what I hope to do in my application. Really appreciate your insights and encouragement, @singasongofjoy!
 
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howardshouse

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Jul 7, 2020
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  1. Pre-Psychology
I think your best bet is option 4. You will find that stats and research design is not particularly difficult to learn and you may actually enjoy it. When you finally do go to apply to Ph.D. programs, I concur with the prior posters who advised you to NOT reveal your coaching background, as it will not be looked upon favorably at all by admissions committees.

Thanks for your feedback! Reassuring to hear that stats and research design isn't particularly difficult to learn.
 

howardshouse

Full Member
Jul 7, 2020
12
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  1. Pre-Psychology
That's not all you asked for though. You asked:



I provided some advice that while semi-harsh, could be helpful. In your posts, you present your experience as net positive. I think it is highly negative. If you choose to try to get formal education, you would be wise to avoid justifying your previous career choices or presenting them as a positive thing. That is an actionable step you could take from that advice. It would be humbling. It would not be pleasant. But it would likely improve your chances at achieving your goal.


@AbnormalPsych their ethics code is basically, "Don't discriminate, try to do good". Their board of directors has zero USA members with ANY degrees vaguely related to psychology.

Thank you for distilling it this way ⁠— I really appreciate the actionable step. I'm grateful I posted here because your comments (and those of others on this thread) framed this in a way I wouldn't have considered on my own. It sounds like the best way forward would be to acknowledge, with humility, 1) the significant limitations of the field of coaching, 2) how I witnessed the negative consequences of those limitations during my career as a coach (I have a few anecdotes that really demonstrate this point), and 3) how I've come to understand that coaching was a misstep en route to my ultimate goal of helping others in a science-backed, data-driven, research-supported way.

For the record, were it not for the semi-harshness of your feedback, I may not have taken your words as seriously, and they may not have informed my perspective as deeply. So thank you for keeping it real, so to speak :)
 
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PsyDr

Psychologist
15+ Year Member
Dec 18, 2005
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Thank you for distilling it this way ⁠— I really appreciate the actionable step. I'm grateful I posted here because your comments (and those of others on this thread) framed this in a way I wouldn't have considered on my own. It sounds like the best way forward would be to acknowledge, with humility, 1) the significant limitations of the field of coaching, 2) how I witnessed the negative consequences of those limitations during my career as a coach (I have a few anecdotes that really demonstrate this point), and 3) how I've come to understand that coaching was a misstep en route to my ultimate goal of helping others in a science-backed, data-driven, research-supported way.

For the record, were it not for the semi-harshness of your feedback, I may not have taken your words as seriously, and they may not have informed my perspective as deeply. So thank you for keeping it real, so to speak :)

Providing direct information allows people to make informed decisions for themselves. Conversely, withholding information because it is emotionally difficult is straight up paternalism, where the giver values his/her emotional state over the long term outcome of the receiver. Medical ethics addressed this a long time ago.

Hopefully you have friends, family, or a Bob Marley album that will tell you everything is gonna be alright.
 
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