Waitlisted. Apply for private or wait for next year or pursue medicine?

hjian

New Member
Mar 15, 2021
4
0
1
I applied for MFT programs this year. Currently waitlisted for CSU Northridge and CSU Sacramento. Still waiting to hear back from four more MFT programs. I feel very demoralized for not having received acceptances.

I was a premed before choosing to go into mental health. I graduate with high honors, but was hesitant to go into medicine because of the amount of work and hours required (80hr weeks during residency). During my last year of college, I went through therapy and it allowed me to heal my emotional trauma. This was my intro into the mental health field and I considered becoming a therapist because I experienced the potential it has to do good for others. I worked as a medical assistant after graduating and decided to do mental health instead because I did not think I would be able to handle the amount of work on the medical path. My interaction with patients there only reinforced my decision. I had an overall positive impact on the patients and staff there as I was able to bring an energy of love and acceptance from healing myself. Some patients wanted to know what I would do and asked for my full name. One of the doctors was looking forward to getting my business card in the future because of her stress from the patient load.

I am currently volunteering for a crisis hotline which has given me some good experience counseling others during crisis. Most of the crisis calls ended with the caller being more calmer and hopeful for a brighter day. However, I don't get to follow up with these callers. I dabbled in life coaching and realized I don't necessarily need to be a therapist to help people with their mental health. Some people have emotional blocks because they avoid their painful emotions. Helping others understand that sort of fulfilled my longing to help others with their mental health.

Here I am now questioning if I should continue pursuing mental health. I know I have four more schools to hear back from, but I feel hopeless. Should I consider applying to private schools? They have spring application cycles, but cost a lot more. Is anyone able to give a good estimate of how long does it take to repay those loans (60,000 - 75,000)? Should I apply again next cycle? Apply for expensive private programs? Some part of me feels like going back to medicine is the safer option, maybe because of its familiarity to me.
 

summerbabe

Full Member
2+ Year Member
Nov 22, 2016
418
698
116
  1. Psychologist
Should I consider applying to private schools?
I know somebody who did their MFT at USF, which is currently $72,900 before living expenses. I think that's a TERRIBLE idea given average salaries.
Is anyone able to give a good estimate of how long does it take to repay those loans (60,000 - 75,000)?
Get familiar with loan calculators & other financial planning tools. Assuming you took out $72,900 and didn't need a cent more for living expenses at 4.7%, grad loans accrue interest the moment they are dispersed. Also assume you won't be paying much beyond minimum payments during at least your first year out of school as you attempt to accrue hours to be licensed. By the time you start working independently, you'll have at least $10,000 more in interest on top of your principle. If you wanted to pay that off in 20 years, you're looking at $550+ per month.
Should I apply again next cycle?
Have you considered MSW programs? It's the most versatile and portable mid-level degree by a wide margin (search old threads). You also seem to be interested in individual therapy whereas the MFT curriculum will emphasize systems interventions. And there is a glut of MFT providers in California, which can make things challenging.
Some part of me feels like going back to medicine is the safer option, maybe because of its familiarity to me.
You seem to have a passion for counseling so I'd ride it out longer during this app cycle and at least consider re-applying and expanding options if things don't work out. Just about everybody working in mental health has had significantly more academic and professional rejections than successes.

If your heart is not in medicine and you're also concerned about the workload, I'd recommend an honest self-eval of whether this is feasible. Good luck!
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 users

hjian

New Member
Mar 15, 2021
4
0
1
Have you considered MSW programs?
Thank you very much for your advice. I feel I have a bit more sense of direction now. :)
I initially ruled out MSW because I saw it focuses on social services outside of therapy. I reasoned that I wanted to focus more on learning therapy so that's why I went with MFT.
I am a lot more open to it now. It sounds like the better option. Is it worth it to wait out another year and apply for MSW even if I did receive acceptances from my four remaining applications (the four are all CSUs)?
 
About the Ads

summerbabe

Full Member
2+ Year Member
Nov 22, 2016
418
698
116
  1. Psychologist
I initially ruled out MSW because I saw it focuses on social services outside of therapy. I reasoned that I wanted to focus more on learning therapy so that's why I went with MFT.
I think it's pretty standard for MSW programs to allow people to focus on tracks and therapy would be a pretty common track and there would be plenty of practicum placements to assist with this training.
Is it worth it to wait out another year and apply for MSW even if I did receive acceptances from my four remaining applications (the four are all CSUs)?
The only cost is literally whatever it costs to apply, send transcripts, and the time commitment to complete the applications so I think it's worth a shot. And you can always apply to these programs again in the future if things don't work out this cycle or you decide you want to go in another direction.
 

hjian

New Member
Mar 15, 2021
4
0
1
I think it's pretty standard for MSW programs to allow people to focus on tracks and therapy would be a pretty common track and there would be plenty of practicum placements to assist with this training.
I'm looking through MSW programs and am being more reminded of why I did not chose this route to begin with. They revolve around social justice, oppression, identity, culture, and similar themes. I just don't see myself being interested in learning this stuff. The road to becoming a therapist is so complicated. A big factor for me in choosing therapy was because I thought it would be less work than medicine, but it seems like MSWs also have to deal with management and being overworked.

I think I would be happier doing medicine. The workload will be much more manageable for me because I have healed my emotional trauma and become more experienced in meditation. Medicine feels a lot more congruent with the identity that I have created from my academic career, as opposed to studying something like social justice. As a doctor with a greater understanding of emotional health and trauma, I can hopefully inform patients of the importance in addressing their emotions.
 

MAClinician

Masters level clinician
5+ Year Member
Mar 19, 2016
354
375
166
  1. Non-Student
ANY competent healthcare provider, whether an MD/DO, PhD, or masters level provider will need to understand how sociocultural factors play a role in a person’s health, both physical and mental. I would caution you against saying you have “no interest in learning this stuff” because you WILL need to be aware of some of these factors. I can understand you may not want it to be the focus of your studies.

Some MSW programs are more macro-focused (systemic issues) than micro-focused (interpersonal or individual issues). The micro-system programs may have tracks geared toward therapy/counseling.

Regardless of which path you choose, it’s important to be aware that there are system level constraints that will have an impact on your day to day work. In medicine it will be hospital/healthcare systems, insurance, and corporate expectations from people with limited medical training. In mental health, it will get insurance, limited providers, and many of the individual factors that come into play. Neither path will be easy. Both will require work and time management skills. Good luck in your decision.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 2 users

hjian

New Member
Mar 15, 2021
4
0
1
ANY competent healthcare provider, whether an MD/DO, PhD, or masters level provider will need to understand how sociocultural factors play a role in a person’s health, both physical and mental. I would caution you against saying you have “no interest in learning this stuff” because you WILL need to be aware of some of these factors. I can understand you may not want it to be the focus of your studies.

Some MSW programs are more macro-focused (systemic issues) than micro-focused (interpersonal or individual issues). The micro-system programs may have tracks geared toward therapy/counseling.

Regardless of which path you choose, it’s important to be aware that there are system level constraints that will have an impact on your day to day work. In medicine it will be hospital/healthcare systems, insurance, and corporate expectations from people with limited medical training. In mental health, it will get insurance, limited providers, and many of the individual factors that come into play. Neither path will be easy. Both will require work and time management skills. Good luck in your decision.
You are correct, I am not enthusiastic about focusing my studies primarily on these topics. The path towards becoming a therapist is not as straightforward as I thought. Thank you for the insights.
 

foreverbull

Full Member
5+ Year Member
Sep 8, 2015
1,269
1,722
176
Master’s level counseling/MFT programs will have a fair amount of multicultural education built into their programs, as they should. Being a therapist requires an understanding of and commitment to multicultural competence, which, in part, recognizes and attends to factors of culture/social justice issues and educating yourself about different types of diversity as a lifelong commitment. It is considered flat out unethical to ignore this in therapy, unethical treat someone from a background you know absolutely nothing about (for example, someone who identifies as transgender who is seeking transition), and unethical if you end up imposing your own cultural values onto the client (ie encouraging them to do something that doesn’t align with their culture values). Many folks will drop out of therapy when they feel like their therapist doesn’t understand them or isn’t willing to educate themselves. There are also a lot of doctors/medical practitioners out there who lack even a basic understanding of diversity and their biases come out when working with patients (it is concerning to see that they aren’t trained better in this).

As an aside, MSW programs with clinical focus and MFT programs can lead to the same career paths, but MSWs tend to have a bit more flexibility career-wise.

In terms of cost, debt will take many years to pay back, and master’s level salaries aren’t great, especially in high cost of living areas, so you may have some rough years ahead of you enter into overpriced programs. I wouldn’t encourage this.

You may benefit from some reflection and further exploration of what you want to do and what is actually involved with these paths in the day-to-day. Doctors do work long hours, but therapists can also burn out with a 9-5 job because of the level of focus and attention required to provide therapy all day every day for full 50-minute sessions. It might help to shadow some folks in these fields. Good therapy requires a high degree of self-awareness, openness, and tolerance of discomfort and ambiguity in addition to knowledge of theory and interventions.

In the meantime, I’d wait another year—this was a very competitive year so I hear, in part possibly because of the pandemic and folks wanting to make themselves more marketable with further education in a tough job market. This happened in 2008 during the recession as well.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: 1 users

chicandtoughness

mental health clinician (LMHC)
5+ Year Member
Dec 7, 2014
408
244
186
  1. Pre-Medical
social justice, oppression, identity, culture, and similar themes. I just don't see myself being interested in learning this stuff
Yikes. With this kind of mindset I would be hesitant in recommending you do ANY kind of healthcare or patient-facing services. Even if you don't address it in your daily facetime with patients, these factors are going to be important when looking at access to care, disposition/discharge recommendations, etc. and it's important that you learn about it.

A big factor for me in choosing therapy was because I thought it would be less work than medicine, but it seems like MSWs also have to deal with management and being overworked.
ANY healthcare career will have to deal with management and being overworked. You will never escape this. The burnout will look different depending on your field, but I would never choose a career based on how easy it is, because it's all full of ****. You just get to choose the flavor of **** you deal with.
 

singasongofjoy

Full Member
5+ Year Member
Dec 4, 2014
941
753
166
  1. Psychologist
I'm curious to know what the OP decided to do in the end.

Private / non-funded degrees of any sort in any area/level of mental health is almost universally a bad business decision.

Fun fact of the day: You can get an associate's degree in Respiratory Therapy and make as much or often more than licensed clinicians at the master's level. Learned that the last semester of my master's program when I was doing some employment counseling. Just looked it up -still true.
 

futureapppsy2

Assistant professor
Volunteer Staff
10+ Year Member
Dec 25, 2008
6,536
3,760
376
I'm curious to know what the OP decided to do in the end.

Private / non-funded degrees of any sort in any area/level of mental health is almost universally a bad business decision.

Fun fact of the day: You can get an associate's degree in Respiratory Therapy and make as much or often more than licensed clinicians at the master's level. Learned that the last semester of my master's program when I was doing some employment counseling. Just looked it up -still true.
I think that RT isn't really the career for a lot of people, though....
 

AcronymAllergy

Neuropsychologist
Volunteer Staff
10+ Year Member
Jan 7, 2010
8,286
3,369
376
  1. Psychologist
I think that RT isn't really the career for a lot of people, though....
Another "RT" that earns a good salary, particularly compared to the length of training, is Radiologic Technologist. But also not necessarily a career for everyone.
 
About the Ads

Your message may be considered spam for the following reasons:

  1. Your new thread title is very short, and likely is unhelpful.
  2. Your reply is very short and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  3. Your reply is very long and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  4. It is very likely that it does not need any further discussion and thus bumping it serves no purpose.
  5. Your message is mostly quotes or spoilers.
  6. Your reply has occurred very quickly after a previous reply and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  7. This thread is locked.