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Why do MA's in Mental Health Counseling even exist? Is it just a scam to make people think they're

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by whereisit96, Apr 15, 2018.

  1. whereisit96

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    saw someone from my high school is going to pursue an MA in Mental Health Counseling next fall. Given that the average salary for a mental health counselor is $40k, this career seems like a huge, unnecessary scam to me. What are mental health counselors even trained to do? At least counseling psychology seems to lead to an actual useful and important career. He claims that he's ultimately going to pursue a doctoral degree in psychology, so why not just work in a research lab or get an MA in psych? The school he's going to doesn't even have any active research, so I don't think he'll be able to get involved with a lab and get decent research experience. Seriously, why does this career even exist?
     
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  3. foreverbull

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    Not sure why you have such strong feelings about this, but plenty of folks want to provide therapy but aren't interested in a doctorate for one reason or another (not interested in doing active research, teaching grad classes, assessment, supervision, etc.), hence we have master's programs that train you in the therapy basics/counseling theories/practice. Not all master's programs are poor quality, just as not all doctoral programs are high quality. Master's level therapists provide much-needed services in the field.
     
  4. Temperance

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    It sounds like there are two separate issues here. The MA in Mental Health Counseling can lead to licensure as a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC). Unfortunately, the expense of the degree does not necessarily correlate with eventual earnings, as that depends on supply and demand. Counseling psychology provides different services and has higher requirements for entry into the field, so comparing the two is akin to apples and oranges. Because it's a terminal degree intended for people who want to pursue a clinical career, there may not necessarily be a research component.

    Your acquaintance may be pursuing the incorrect degree for his eventual career goal, but that has nothing to do with the existence of the program. There are some misconceptions that one needs clinical experience in order to get a doctoral degree, but, as you said, research experience means more.
     
    mypointlesspov likes this.
  5. blakjak12

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    I think master's level degrees, including those in social work, actually are a good route for many people to pursue if their primary career goal is to be a therapist and see patients. The salaries in some cases might not be great, but I am guessing they can get to be much better than 40k/year in many situations and regions of the countries. Plus, you have way less of a life commitment/opportunity cost for pursuing a master's.

    A lot of potential grad students see PhD programs as appealing based on prestige and having potential funding, which is understandable, but I think there are a lot of people pursuing this route who shouldn't be for various reasons (namely these two reasons, prestige and funding) if they are not super interested in research careers. It's created a huge backlog for applicants it seems, where really good potential applicants are now doing post-bacc positions for two years before even applying. When you think of the whole process of doing a post-bacc, a PhD, plus a postdoc, it's pretty insane what people are asked to do to make it in research-oriented careers. And the PhD system, although in some cases funded, still doesn't always end up being a super awesome route financially. There is a huge opportunity cost for making nothing but a graduate stipend that is at best barely liveable for 5-6 years, plus an often very costly short-term move and series of very expensive interviews for an internship system at the end of it all that greatly favors the wealthy/people who have family or partners who can support them.

    So, I could see many cases where it would make a lot of sense for someone to go the master's route, even if that involves incurring a (reasonable) amount of debt for a shorter master's program that would allow you to make money sooner.
     
  6. Justanothergrad

    Justanothergrad Counseling Psychologist
    Psychologist Faculty 5+ Year Member

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    Your estimated MA salary is also too low.
     
  7. DynamicDidactic

    DynamicDidactic Ass of Prof
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    MA in MHC is similar to other programs that prepare you for masters-level licensure. The salary you quote is generally about the starting salary for those degrees and will grow over time.
     

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