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PhD/PsyD Undoing a Mistake

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by shinydreams, Jun 18, 2018.

  1. shinydreams

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    I'm in a Ph.D. program in a non-clinical psychology specialization (let's just call it "OtherPsychology"). I wanted to go into clinical or counseling, but took the advice of everyone around me who said OtherPsychology would be better for me, pay more, make me happier, etc. I have just finished my 4th year in OtherPsychology and I am really miserable.

    I want to transition into doing clinical or counseling work. It doesn't seem feasible to drop out now and apply to a clinical or counseling program because (1) I have no one to write me recommendations, (2) I have no clinical work, internships or research, (3) I'd need to take the GRE and Subject GRE and (4) I'm almost in my mid-thirties and want to get out of graduate school sooner rather than later.

    I learned that there are respecialization programs if you have a Ph.D. in non-clinical psychology. If I hussle, I can finish my OtherPsychology Ph.D. in three more years. I need to take my qualifying exams and write a dissertation. Would such a program be the best bet for me? Ultimately, my career goal is to do therapy with clients and, maybe assessment work (though I don't have a complete understanding of what assessment work would be like).
     
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  3. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist
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    Honestly, at this point, if you're set on clinical psychology, best bet is to quit and try to get into a reputable program that will lead to licensure. Respecialization programs don't tend to have the best reputations. Also, most areas are saturated. When a job for psychologists gets posted, expect at least double digit applications. In hiring positions, I'm not rolling the dice, I'm sticking with safe options.

    But, you also may be better off figuring out exactly what you want to do. You may be able to do what you want (with the exception of most assessment work) with a masters level degree. Those are what are getting hired these days to do therapy in many larger healthcare systems anyway.

    Either way, it sounds like your current degree is going to leave you with few, if any, viable career options in the clinical realm. I can't possibly see the utility in wasting three more years and however many dollars on it if you're not able to use it in a meaningful way.
     
    ellenew likes this.
  4. Westbound2019

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    Given the amount of work you have left, the time left in your program (3 more years?!) and your career goals-- I would say you might want to consider dropping the phD and getting a Master's in clinical psychology. You would be out and maybe even licensed in the same amount of time (3 ish years) and could do therapy or counseling. You could also do some limited assessment work (psychometrist type stuff) if you wanted to dip your toes in that. You would still have to re-take the GRE, but I'd re-do the GRE any day over doing a full on dissertation plus 3 more years of doc grad school all for nothing!
     
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  5. psych.meout

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    Three more years "if you hussle?" Yikes.

    I'd second dropping the PhD and going for a master's in counseling, MFT, social work, or school psych.
     
  6. EmotRegulation

    Psychologist Faculty 5+ Year Member

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    Does your department have a clinical or counseling program? Have you talked to them about this? Do you have the option of "switching" (which will definitely mean kinda starting over, but many of the courses should count, like basic stats courses, breadth courses, etc.)? I echo the others that getting your PhD in OtherPsychology in 3 years isn't going to be super helpful if you don't want to do the work in that area.
     
  7. Fan_of_Meehl

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    What makes you think that you'd enjoy doing professional psychotherapy?
     
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  8. foreverbull

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    Ouch, that is rough. It's concerning that your program of "other" psychology would take 7 years total and this is without a clinical practice component! Makes me wonder how you were convinced go into this niche/program if you ultimately just want to practice clinically, and this route can't take you there.

    I'd suggest the social work route for portability if you even hope to move or suspect you might end up practicing in another state someday. Master's degrees in counseling or clinical psychology are very limiting in terms of licensure state by state.

    Going back to start over for a doctoral degree will take at least 5-6 years, assuming you get in the first year you apply.

    Is there literally nothing you want to do with your current track at all? It just seems unfortunate to put in 4 years and walk away. If you do decide to cut your losses, I'd suggest the LCSW route as I mentioned.
     
  9. shinydreams

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    Thanks so much to everyone for your responses!

    The problem I see myself facing in trying to get into another program is that master's and doctoral level programs all require three recommendations and I have no way of getting even one. For the past 4 years, the only thing I have been doing (other than classes) is research for my advisor so I don't have anyone from outside of my program who could write me recommendations. None of the faculty in my program would write me a recommendation because they would be mad over me dropping out. I know only one woman who left with her master's a few years back and she needed references for getting a job, but not one of the faculty members would serve as a reference for her. They were open about doing this. Guess it's a kind of warning not to drop out...

    I went to two local schools to ask about their MA programs (one in social work and one in counseling psych) and explained to an admissions counselor (without details) that I was in another graduate program and it is unlikely those professors would write me recommendations due to hard feelings over me exiting the program. In short, they both said I'd need to figure out a way to get recent recommendations and couldn't be considered without them. I finished college 8 years ago at this point so those are considered too old, even if I could convince a former professor to write one this many years out.

    They don't, unfortunately. :(

    I like reading clinical psychology journal articles in my free time and I get excited about reading books for leisure that deal with mental health issues. I also spent 3 years in college volunteering on the school's suicide hotline and it wasn't easy, but I felt so full of purpose. I liked helping the person de-escalate and see possible options for changing their situation. I know it's not the greatest exposure to practicing psychotherapy, but the glimpses I have gotten have me interested.

    Yeah...they kind of hide the fact that no one completes it in under 7 years at the open house. We were all told it was a 4-5 year program, like every other PhD program in this domain of psychology. The current students felt obligated to perpetuate that idea when asked. It would have been nice to know that it would take forever to finish coursework since half the courses you need to graduate aren't regularly offered. Only found that gem out in my first semester.
     
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  10. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist
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    It sucks that this was not up front in conversations, but this would have been evident in looking at the mandatory Student Outcomes data.
     
  11. futureapppsy2

    futureapppsy2 Assistant professor
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    That isn't required or at all common for non-clinical/counseling/school/combined programs.
     
  12. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist
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    Ah, yes, I forgot that this was a non - clinical/counseling degree.
     
  13. shinydreams

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    Yes, sadly all I had to go on was their website where they report a maximum of 5 years to completion and Linkedin profiles of other students, where they.tend to fudge how long it took them. For example, I see several of my fellow students listing a 2018 completion when I know for a fact they still have not finished coursework.
     
  14. CatLover&PsychEnthusiast

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    Wow it sounds like they really mislead you. You finished your masters correct? Because I wouldn’t leave until at least finishing that part. Could you look into joining a research lab in a clinical area on the side to gain references? It sounds like you’re really busy, but I can’t think of a better option. It sounds like your stuck between a rock and a hard place. I 100% believe you about the being vindictive thing if you drop out. I have friends in experimental and their expressed similar issues.
     
  15. Sendtrees

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    This is insane. The four years are sunk cost--I wouldn't waste another three. If you decide you agree, you have nothing to lose in asking your advisor and whatever profs you feel are most likely to support you for recommendation letters. If they like you personally, they might say yes even though the program seems to run like a crime family. If not--well, sunk cost. You'll have to get your letters from supervisors, managers, volunteer coordinators--all of which you'll meet as you shake this mistake off and move on with your life. You'll find a job, you'll find some volunteer work, you'll start again. You can do that in a few years. Finally...don't rule out completely that professors from undergrad, or former supervisors in former volunteer positions, wouldn't be willing to write a letter for you. I know it's been a long time, but if you made real connections with them at the time, they might remember you, and they might want to help. Good luck.
     
  16. smitten

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    Agreed with all of the above. Also, I'm assuming you needed letters to get into your current program--whoever wrote them for you may still have them saved somewhere, and those should be easy to update. Certainly couldn't hurt to ask!
     
  17. psych.meout

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    Anyone else here think it's a bit concerning that OP doesn't have (or at least doesn't feel they have) any recommendation letter opportunities at their current program?
     
  18. shinydreams

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    Yes, I just got my MA this past semester, though there's really not much good it will do me in terms of work. I like this idea of joining a clinical lab though. It sucks that there's this vindictiveness. I know for this program, they worry about funding because the uni keeps giving them less and less money so they get upset that someone dropping out reflects poorly on the program.

    There are 2 professors who actually seem like genuinely nice people, but the issue is the head of the program who they don't want to cross. She's the one who dictates what classes we can take, who can work with what professor for thesis/dissertation and when someone can take qualifying exams. She would not be happy with them if they went against what she believes. It would really be nice to move on from this. I just thought the re-certification program could be my way of fixing my mistake.

    I know at least two of my undergrad professors would edit their recommendations, but they can't speak to anything I have done in the past 8 years. Do you think such recommendations would still be useful?

    Do you mean that I may not have good relationships with the faculty? I have professor who could recommend me for a job/internship in my field. This is as long as I'm staying in line and following program "guidelines" and "expectations." The moment I step out of line (i.e. exit the program), I wouldn't be in their good graces anymore.
     

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