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Would a Doctorate Be Beneficial to Me?

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by mrscruff, Oct 26, 2011.

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  1. mrscruff


    Oct 26, 2011
    Hello, Everyone.

    I am an undergraduate Psychology major with a dream to become a licensed professional counselor with mental health service designation (LPC-MHSP) in TN. Currently, I am debating whether or not to go for a doctorate in a counseling-related program. I would appreciate it if you all would advise me concerning my questions:

    1. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, Mental Health Counselor jobs are expected to see 21-24% growth (much faster than average, while Counseling Psychology positions will see only 12% growth (average). In light of this, would it be safe to say that masters-level training is more than adequate to find a stable job?

    2. I have a GRE score of 1200, a GPA of 3.94, and an imminent opportunity to conduct my own research under a professor's supervision. Also, I am a Black male -- a poorly represented group within the counseling profession (according to various sources in my literature review for my experiemental class proposal). In light of this information, how would my application be received if I happened to apply to a doctoral program?

    3. Do clients typically look down upon counselors without terminal degrees? I have heard that sometimes clients think one "gave up" by not getting a Ph.D. of some sort.

    4. How difficult is it to start a private practice with a masters degree versus a doctorate?

    5. *This one is for masters-level counselors* How content have you been with your career? Have you ever had regrets about not having a doctorate?

    Thank you all in advance for your responses! :D
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  3. wigflip

    wigflip 2+ Year Member

    Oct 18, 2010
    This might depend on what region of the country you hope to practice in. You may benefit from searching earlier threads on this as well.
  4. Neuropsych2be

    Neuropsych2be 7+ Year Member

    Nov 13, 2007
    East coast
    The doctorate in Counseling may or may not be worth it. I live in Tennessee and most employers here will not pay an LPC-MHSP more simply because they have a doctorate. The license is the same at either level. BUT if you are considering private practice, those all important referral sources will give you more credence if you are a Ph.D. If you want referrals from physicians, the court system etc... never underestimate the usefulness of the title Dr. and the Ph.D. as a marketing tool. Also understand the the master's degree is the terminal degree for the counseling profession. If you are an African American male living in the Volunteer State, go for the Ph.D.

  5. Psychadelic2012

    Psychadelic2012 PhD Student 2+ Year Member

    Sep 17, 2011
    I'll repeat what Neuropsych said--a licensable masters IS a terminal degree.

    Some clients may think that, but others erroneously call masters-level clinicians "Dr." Most people will only care that you can help them. If they seriously think this, they are mistaken anyway.

    You should probably think about what you want to do. Do you want to do therapy? A master's degree is more than sufficient. A doctorate will enable other career opportunities. Just please, please don't do it (as I have seen before) to have the "Dr." in front of your name--blech!
  6. mrscruff


    Oct 26, 2011
    Thanks for the replies :) Okay, that is a good clarification to make (that the LPC is the terminal degree). I was interpreting the word terminal as "No more degrees are available that are related to your field of expertise" lol.

    Anyway, I agree with you that spending time, money, and energy solely to add a title to my name is a vain pursuit. I guess my motivations to work toward a doctorate include the incentives of teaching credentials, making my folks proud to have a doctor in the family, and using my academic gifts to their fullest degree.

    My dislike of conducting research and statistical analysis, however, leads me to believe that I would get burned out in most doctoral programs quickly.... That is why I am trying to determine if the commitment of earning a doctorate is justified by the benefits such as teaching credentials and more favorable client/organization perceptions.
  7. momto4girls

    momto4girls 2+ Year Member

    Oct 1, 2011
    Have you considered a PsyD? Still a doctorate, and you still have to conduct some research, but it's my understanding that the focus is more applied and the research component doesn't come close to the traditional PhD.
  8. mrscruff


    Oct 26, 2011
    I have considered that option. The closest Psy.D program to me, however, would put me close to $60,000 in debt even if I got one of their elusive assistantships or scholarships ($100,000+ if I should fail to get an assistantship or scholarship, and that doesn't include housing/food!).

    If I were to get a dcotorate, it would probably be the University of Memphis' Ed.D in Counseling (CACREP), their Ph.D in Counseling Psychology (APA), or Trevecca's Ph.D in Clinical Counseling. The Trevecca degree is more up my alley since it has a purer focus upon teaching and in-depth clinical theories (they have classes like psychodynamic therapies, CBT, theories of attachment, etc...). The research for that degree only includes about 6 hours of statistics and technology courses, and then the dissertation hours. Sadly, there is no funding for the degree because it's oriented toward the working therapist who can likely pay in increments as they progress through the program. Regardless, I would feel more justified in getting Trevecca's degree and not feel as though I simply churning out research and publications to bolster some university's prestige. Maybe I'll save up a bit for the costs it will require to go there....
  9. incidental

    incidental rændəm neʃən 5+ Year Member

    Dec 23, 2008
    i know you mentioned cost, but have you thought about going out of state? you may be able to find programs tailored to what you want and possibly get funding for it. either way, good luck.
  10. wigflip

    wigflip 2+ Year Member

    Oct 18, 2010
    that is one cute corgi avatar! i'm wild about corgis!!!
  11. loujack30


    Feb 7, 2012
    I think so
  12. zensouth


    Jan 20, 2012
    If you want to simply practice therapy then a PhD/PsyD may be overkill. They DO allow for more upward mobility sooner IMO, but at the clinic where I work (as an M.Ed. LAPC) the manager is another professional counselor, not a psychologist. However, there is another clinic manager that oversees a different program who has a PsyD and she is about 1/2 the age of the LPC, so maybe the PsyD helped her get up there sooner.

    Also, keep in mind that any PhD program is, at heart, a research program. This means that regardless of race, age, etc., professors typically interview and select people who have a strong research background and an interest in pushing the research in their field further. Typically, if you only want to practice a professor's response will be "So why not just get an LPC?"

    Not to scare you, just to prepare you- Be aware of how very competitive these programs are (just check out the PhD/PsyD thread, we're all in the midst of applying to PhD/PsyD programs and it is pretty intense). You will need to get some serious research chops (which it sounds like you have an opportunity to do) as well as good grades and a good GRE score, then apply to ~10 schools (which will require looking out of state), and hope you get selected to interview out of 150-200 applicants per school for about 7-10 spots per school.
  13. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Oct 6, 2006
    The Beach
    It is best to not make such a generalization because it detracts from the fact that research is an important part of ANY doctoral training. Any halfway decent university-based Psy.D. program will require a significant research effort. This position feeds into the "Ph.D. = research, Psy.D. = clinical" myth, which is not an accurate characterization of the training models. Most Ph.D. graduates go on to be clinicians and most Psy.D. graduates were required to complete significant research requirements prior to their clinical careers.

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