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What are PhD counseling psych programs REALLY like?

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by psychgirl44, Aug 17, 2017.

  1. psychgirl44


    Apr 22, 2017
    What is it REALLY like to be in a Ph.D. Counseling psychology program? I'm trying to do online research to get some insight on people's different personal experiences, but I can't seem to find much. Is it really gruesome and tedious and miserable as everyone makes all PhD programs out to be? Or is it actually enjoyable? Of course I know everyone's experience will be slightly different. I am just curious and would like to get some perspective and specifics about what an average day/week is like being in a program like this.
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  3. erg923

    erg923 Regional Clinical Officer, Cenpatico National 10+ Year Member

    Apr 6, 2007
    Louisville, KY
    Gruesome and tedious? Why would be people be doing that to themselves? I don't think its usual for people to get impatient at times (to make more money, to have a big boy job, to have start their family, etc.), but not sure how or why people would hate it that much.

    Its hard, and there are long hours and some stress. But why would one expect any different?
  4. biscuitsbiscuits

    biscuitsbiscuits 2+ Year Member

    Oct 27, 2015
    There's a thread somewhere on gradcafe about this. It was started a few years ago (I think) and people have continued to add their own experiences and perspectives. I found it very interesting/helpful/reassuring. I don't have the time to search for the exact thread, but it's somewhere in here: Psychology
  5. psychgirl44


    Apr 22, 2017
    Man I'm having trouble finding it. Do you remember how old it is?
  6. MCParent

    MCParent Faculty Bronze Donor Classifieds Approved 5+ Year Member

    Jan 10, 2012
    Of course it will be tedious at times. It's unrealistic to expect that a job won't be.

    I loved grad school. One of the best times of my life (other than a few other times, including presently, which is nice). I would never describe it as gruesome. That's ridiculous and anyone who says that needs to take a close look at their circumstances. You aren't toiling in a North Korean labor camp. It's just grad school, itll be fine.
  7. MamaPhD

    MamaPhD Psychologist, Academic Medical Center Psychologist 7+ Year Member

    Aug 2, 2010
    psychgirl44 likes this.
  8. foreverbull

    foreverbull 2+ Year Member

    Sep 8, 2015
    Depends on the program, but as someone who knew I wasn't going to pursue research in my career yet entered into a 50% research/50% practice program, I managed fine through a predissertation and a dissertation plus a bit of manuscript help with colleagues on the side. I really valued my program for its multicultural emphasis/research and faculty. It was a big time commitment (anywhere from 50-80 hours per week of classes, practicum, research, assistantships, and homework/research), but I didn't burn out on it because I was using different skill sets in each setting and had a relatively independent assistantship with a little downtime. I also managed to keep up an active social life, as well. The more busy I got, the better I got at managing my time and balancing work/life.

    Every experience is different, though, with a high level of within-program variability as well as between-program variability. Ask one of my colleagues about the same program, and you might hear a different story. Being very self-motivated/driven, keeping your word, and being independent were key to being successful in my doc program.
    modestmousktr and psychgirl44 like this.
  9. psychgirl44


    Apr 22, 2017
  10. psychgirl44


    Apr 22, 2017
    This was very helpful and insightful. The exact type of answer I was looking for. Reading it made me feel really good! Thank you!
  11. Justanothergrad

    Justanothergrad Counseling Psychologist Psychologist Faculty 2+ Year Member

    Mar 2, 2013
    As MCParent said, it can be a lot of work. It's graduate school after all. I really enjoyed my training in counseling psych. Its my goal to allow my students enjoy their training as well. This doesn't mean that there wont be frustrations or long days that can be tiring. There will be. That is also life more generally. I think there is a bit of a culture of complaining about how bad graduate school is for whatever reason. In all seriousness, if its miserable you probably picked a program that doesn't fit well with who you are as a person. It's fine and many love the experience (and miss it when they leave).
    MCParent likes this.
  12. ProfoundSpirit


    Feb 24, 2017
    Current Counseling Psychology PhD 1st year here! :D It varies depending on your program, but I would say most Counseling Psych programs will keep you busy throughout the course of your program. My current schedule right now: Classes Monday through Wednesday from 10am to 5pm, an hour seminar on Thursdays, Teach for my grad assistantship on Fridays. In between said times, I hold office hours for students and work front desk in my department clinic (a combination of 4hrs roughly for both). While it may seem like a lot, I have considerable gaps in my schedule that allow me to get stuff done, and evenings (after 5pm) are almost always free for me. The key to grad school is time management. Look over your schedule and figure out how you can manage school work and your personal life.

    As a first year, majority of your classes will be foundation courses (research methods, counseling skills, etc.) and you will have a TON of articles/chapters to read (I think I read a total of 100 pages in one week for 3 courses :arghh:), but like I said, prioritize and allocate time approrpriately and you should manage just fine.

    If you truly love what you're studying, then it won't feel miserable, but you will feel stressed at times. After all, it is a PhD you're pursuing, it's gonna take hard work to achieve ;)

    My advice, try to keep your passion alive for the profession, it will help you get through the hard times. While it's not easy, it's very much doable :cat:

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