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Speech Pathology (alternative to clinical psych)

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by Rosemary, Dec 9, 2005.

  1. Rosemary

    Rosemary New Member

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    Hello everyone,

    I just wanted to write a brief message to any student considering an alternative to clinical psych. If you know its what you want to do and its workin for ya, great. But if you find that the admission criteria is daunting and you don't want to spend another 6 years in school, I offer a humble suggestion. I was SURE I wanted my PhD clinical psych throughout undergrad and did all the necessary prepartions. I had research experience, good grades, a publication, participated in conferences. I found however that I was very unhappy, and stressed. I felt like the students were hyper-competitive and we didn't celebrate each others success, we just eyed each other with jealousy. All my life I have just wanted to work with children and it seemed like in my psych major, "clinical aspirations" were viewed with much less respect than research ones. Professors continued to urge me to spend less time with my volunteer work and more with my research. It just wasn't me, and it took almost 3 years to figure that out.

    The field I finally found to match my passions and aptitudes was Speech language pathology. I would reccomend this field to anyone who has a passion for one on one clinical work, and interest in psychology. I find the overlap with psychology to be immense and my former training in psych to be very applicable. All kinds of psychological disorders involve lang. as many of you probably know including aphasia, parkinsons, autism, brain injury, and other motor disorders such as cerabal paulsy. You do assessment diagnosis and therapy, and can have a private practice. The pay is actually comprable to a psychologists (in certain sectors of speech path) and only requires a masters. The jobs are plentiful and varied, you can work in schools, hospitals, early intervention (my fave), and long term care facilities. I find the speech pathology field to be much more organized, if you want to do speech therapy the qualifications are very clear unlike in psych were you have all kinds of therapists, psychologists, counselors and social workers doing similar work. The admissions criteria for speech pathology graduate programs is MUCH more manageable. Average GRE scores are around 1000 for verbal and quantitative, though they will be higher at the most selective programs. You are not pressured to do research if it is not your interest. If you want to see grad admissions data, check out www.asha.org/gradguide. You'll see that most schools admit at least 30 percent and many are well over 50%. The only downside I can think of is that there are many specific required courses, so now I have to go back and make them up and add extra time onto my bachelors, but I think its worth it.

    In closing, I don't mean to dissuage anyone who is really into clinical psych or is already in grad school for clinical psych. Way to go for you guys cause I know how hard it is to get there! I just wanted to tell people about how closely speech path relates to psychology for anyone who feels lost within psychology. I LOVE speech pathology and feel so much more relaxed now. I probably sound like an advertisement for speech pathology but I don't care cause i believe in the field and am proud to be a part of it. I really wish someone had told me about the field earlier so I didn't have to waste all that stress on clinical psychology. Good luck:)
     
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  3. 50960

    50960 Guest

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    Good commercial!! LOL. I agree with you that it is a good career and a good option, especially for those interested in working with kids and/or developmental disabilities.
     
  4. Delvonik

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    I'm actually very glad to see this as I've had an interest in clinical psych for a while but have also recently been thinking about SLP as a fresh alternative. Thanks!
     
  5. clinpsychgirl

    clinpsychgirl Senior Member
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    I thought this was a great post. My roomate/closest friend from college is going into speech pathology and loves it. One thing I'll note for interested parties: She found it somewhat difficult to gain solid clinical experience prior to entering graduate school. For example, as an undergraduate, she shadowed other speech therapists- but did not actively engage in the therapy. Rosemary, any suggestions for how one would gain relevant clinical experience as an undergraduate?
     
  6. Rosemary

    Rosemary New Member

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    Hey clinpsychgirl, thanks for the great question.
    I may have mentioned earlier that I had to transfer schools in order to major in speech pathology, because my old school did not offer it. My new state school actually offers many undergraduate clinical experiences, I will be taking 2 clinical courses in the on-campus speech and hearing center, and will see mostly children (yay!). Then in my senior year I will spend a full semester student teaching at an elementary school and will gain more clinical experience. I think that I'm very fortunate in the amount of clinical experience as an undergrad, so if you are applying to undergrad now or are thinking of transferring, I would look into what sorts of undergrad clinical experiences your department provides and factor that into your decision. I have also had a positive experience volunteering at a center for children with autism. I worked with all sorts of therapists and did get to aid in some speech therapy sessions, though most of my work was basically restraining hyperactive kids! You may also be able to find part time work in a facility that offers speech therapy as an aid. You probably wouldn't get to do much direct therapy but you could help prepare therapy materials and observe testing. I actually think all of my years as a psych research assistant paid off, because I learned how to administer all those children's IQ tests (I worked for a cognitive development dude) and speech pathologists use those exact same tests, like the WISC. So if you are so inclined, being a research assistant to a professor in psych or speech pathology may reallly help you. Job shaddowing is a good idea, though you're right it is harder to get direct experience, but there may be some clinicians who would be willing to let you set up for testing and prepare materials and games for the kids. Summer jobs are a good way to get hands on experience, I've heard of many students who really enjoyed things like being a counselor at a center for children with special needs.

    One more thing I wanted to add is that its not crucial to have undergrad clinical experience, at least from what I've read. I think what grad schools want to see is that you have seen what a speech therapist does in real life, not just from textbooks. They don't want to admit students who have no clue what they're getting into, applying to speech path programs on a whim. I think most graduate schools well prepare you to be a great clinician even without previous experience, though it would be a smoother transition if you aren't a total therapy virgin.

    Wow I write really long posts, it's not intentional! I hope I've been able to share some of what I've learned in my long journey towards finding a career that actually fits me. :)
     
  7. Rosemary

    Rosemary New Member

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    I recently learned of one more thing that I wanted to share. I have emphasized the clinical opportunities in SLP cause that's what I'm mostly interested in, but there are buttloads of research opportunities as well. PhD programs heavily recruit students because there are just far fewer students interested in going the research route than the clinical one. For this reason, and because many professors are retiring, there is a MAJOR shortage of professors in speech path. My own university has been searching for two new professors for a few years now, and have been unable to find anyone. Because there is such competition for the relatively few PhDs out there, private universities lure in the new professors with larger grant money and so on. I feel like someone should also be telling this to linguistics students, its like this little niche where there is actually a shortage of professors.

    Sorry, again not trying to convert anyone, just wanted to share what I've learned.
     
  8. clinpsychgirl

    clinpsychgirl Senior Member
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    Thanks for sharing all of the great information. It sounds like a wonderful career opportunity. And a field that has a SHORTAGE of college professors is pretty unheard of!
     
  9. Sanman

    Sanman O.G.
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    Well there a few fields where there are a shortage of professors; business, engineering, CS,nursing, essentially any field in which one can make a stable, well-paying career for oneself with a lesser degree.

    According to this USNews article speech path is a good choice, apparently better than psych anyway:

    http://www.usnews.com/usnews/biztech/articles/060105/5bestcareers.htm
     
  10. clinpsychgirl

    clinpsychgirl Senior Member
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    Ok, so I'll use this space that I accidently posted in to make some comments about that article. Thanks for posting it Sanman.

    Overall, I thought it was a good review. Did you notice the authors background as PhD earner in educational psych? I felt like his review seemed to be based off of his personal experience rather than an objective review of the career prospects for a psychologist. I tend to disagree with his perspective on graduate education in psychology (he thinks the doctoral degree reqs are mostly for financial gain of the degree-granting institutions). For a clinical psychologist anyway, I think graduate training is instrumental for both practice and research. I also think that the author is underestimating the efficacy of evidence-based psychotherapies.

    On the other hand, I thought the authors point on audiology was well taken. My speech pathology buddy was considering going down the audiology route. Apparently, many universities combine speech therapy and audiology majors into a single undergraduate degree, but then most student go on to pursue speech therapy. So audiology seems to be one of those hidden (or now not so hidden) gems!
     
  11. clinpsychgirl

    clinpsychgirl Senior Member
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    Point taken, Sanman.

    I was referring to fields where doctoral degrees were more the norm. And I come from the city of Boston- apparently we have the highest percentage of PhD taxi cab drivers in the nation. So, here's to job prospects (for some of us hopeful PhD earners) post-graduation!
     

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