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Mental health Pro's-Grad school question

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  • Mental health Pro's-Grad school question

    Hi everyone!
    I plan on attending grad school as soon as I am finished with my BS in Psychology. Now here is the thing, I am at a loss of the best course of travel. Originally I wanted to go to grad school for sports psychology but now I am wondering if it would be wiser to complete a counseling program so I have more options. I have been working and riding as a professional (dressage) for the past 5 years, so I though eventually that could be a great combination. Also, not sure if I should try for PhD or PsyD or will I be ok just getting a masters? I would love to hear of others experiences! How important is it that the program is APA approved? I thought it was extremely important, but some have told me it really doesn't matter as long as its a good program. I have my eye on UT knoxville at the moment...currently going to school in Florida.

    As far as riding goes, sold my last sales horse so am horseless for the first time since I was 6! Just relocated and transferred to a new school, so trying to get school sorted out first before finding out about all the barns around here. I have been teaching mainly the past couple of years, so as I finish school want to scale back on that, and be able to focus more on my own development as a rider.
    Any advice,words of wisdom, or suggestions much appreciated!
    It\'s not the color of the ribbon that counts,but the color of the ride.
    Oh My!

  • #2
    I am not a clinical psychologist, but I have spent about 20 years working with the profession, part of the time with the American Psychological Assocaition.

    If you want a career as a clinical psychologist, your terminal degree MUST be a PhD or PsyD. Forget the masters. There are licensing issues, insurance reimbursement issues and the best you can be is a counselor. Generally speaking, PsyDs are awarded by professional schools and are more focused on clinical treatment. A PhD program can havea wider range of focus, for example neuropsychology, research, as well as clinical treatment. Pick the program that has the best options for you. Just don't aim for a masters.
    Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule


    • Original Poster

      Thanks so much for responding! So I don't need to bother getting a masters first? I have heard conflicting reports on that. Also, should I avoid even applying for schools not on the APA approved grad school list? I think a psyd would be the best option for me, but that seems to really narrow my choice of approved schools.
      It\'s not the color of the ribbon that counts,but the color of the ride.
      Oh My!


      • #4
        Because of your horse background, have you already looked into equine assisted therapy, for example look at http://www.narha.org/component/conte...lp-definitions

        this is also a very interesting book that might spark some ideas...
        Last edited by sdlbredfan; Jun. 4, 2011, 03:08 PM. Reason: add a link
        RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.


        • #5
          I have an MA in Clinical Neuropsychology (1993). I have worked as a psychometrist, in one capacity or another, for the past 18 years. Currently, I work doing psychoeducational assessments with children and adolescents with significant internalizing disorders. My advice, for what it is worth, is to go as far as you can with your education. Do not do a terminal Masters.

          What kids of jobs are you interested in down the line? Perhaps think of a few and call around to ask what the hiring qualifications are. Or cruise some jobs sites - such as the employment pages of hospitals and schools. Is there an APA link for employment opportunities?

          Keeping this horse related - pick something that pays WELL.

          ETA: AND has very flexible hours with generous vacation time.
          Last edited by Come Shine; Jun. 4, 2011, 03:46 PM. Reason: Can't forget the time off needed for horse shows.


          • Original Poster

            Thanks, I will check out all of the links provided, thank you guys so much!

            My main interest in psychology has been sports psychology,PTSD, and relationship therapy. There are really so many more though I could be happy with as well. I have one more year of undergrad to go so I am planning to narrow down in the meantime! There are so many avenues its hard to even explore them all fully. I do need to look into all those careers those as far as growth and such.
            Speaking of horses, I do want something where I can have a flexible schedule, money would be great, and still have time to train on my own. I would really like to have my own practice one day.
            Thank you again!
            It\'s not the color of the ribbon that counts,but the color of the ride.
            Oh My!


            • #7
              Yes, you only want to go to an APA approved school. Some programs award masters, but as Come Shine says, don't go into a program with a terminal masters. If you want to do clinical practice, the standard is the doctorate. Masters degree people get treated like second class citizens. Not saying it is fair, just that is what happens.

              There are lots of different career options in psychology. Private practice is one of them. My niece and her husband are both psychologists, but went industrail organizational route and work for large corporations.
              Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule


              • #8
                I have my MA in counseling. I provide psychotherapy to a myriad of individuals and love my career. I chose not to go for my PsyD for many reasons. Mostly, I realized I can do the same thing as a Master's level that I could do with a PsyD.

                I truly do not feel treated as a second-class citizen. I am doing exactly what I want to do. I have worked for one of the top psychiatrists in the nation, and I have been offered jobs I have not even applied for.
                Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people.
                W. C. Fields


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Eye in the Sky View Post
                  I have my MA in counseling. I provide psychotherapy to a myriad of individuals and love my career. I chose not to go for my PsyD for many reasons. Mostly, I realized I can do the same thing as a Master's level that I could do with a PsyD.

                  I truly do not feel treated as a second-class citizen. I am doing exactly what I want to do. I have worked for one of the top psychiatrists in the nation, and I have been offered jobs I have not even applied for.
                  Please tell us more! What state are you in? Are you licensed in some way? What kinds of services can you provide? Are your services supervised? And if you're comfortable, what's a typical salary range?

                  I'm a psychologist who often gets the OP's questions, and I give the same responses everyone else before you gave. So I'm interested in learning more about what you do.


                  • #10
                    Having a masters degree and being licensed in the field (meaning that you worked in the field for about 2 years) will give you a huge edge when applying. Not only will you be older and more mature than the other people applying right out of a bachelor's program, but you can also say with confidence that counseling is the field you want to be in. Even just getting through the master's degree, with all the internships, will give you a big insight into the field and your place in it. Undergrad psych courses have very little to do with counseling theory.

                    Some PsyD programs actually require the masters degree first.

                    Additionally, at least in my area of the world, masters-prepared counselors get jobs no problem and have a loooong waiting list of clients, both in clinics and private practice. Why? Because insurance pays less out of pocket for the work of a masters-prepared counselor, so more people can afford to see them, so more places hire them.

                    If I were you (because I was you), I would apply to both levels of programs after you determine which ones suit your needs best. It is insanely competitive to get into a doctoral level program in psych/counseling- it's nice to have a back up plan already in place for what you will do to strengthen your application next time around (that is, you will have pursued the masters degree, assuming you get in). And it is nonsense about "don't apply to a terminal masters program". Ideally, it would be great if you could do a masters program at a school with a doctoral program available, too, that you could apply for and transition into after successfully completing a masters, but, like I said, many doctoral programs expect you will have a masters already, and they aren't all offering masters level programs, so they accept LOTS of people from terminal masters programs.

                    I'm really glad I did my master's first. Despite the fact I've always wanted a PhD, love school, would be a great applicant, etc, I realized that the life of a counselor is much more solitary and slower-paced than I like. Some days it drove me crazy- 2 cancellations on an already lightly-scheduled day, sitting alone in my office, was more than I could take.

                    So, I'm taking my master's degree and doing an accelerated bachelor of nursing program at a local university so I can continue working in hospital-based psychiatry. My counseling skills are coming along for the ride, of course, but the setting is MUCH more in line with my strengths and eventually, when I have an NP, I can do more individual counseling work (if I want) and if I get a DNP/PhD (which I surely will aim for), I will happily teach

                    To keep it horse related: when applying to programs, make sure you take the cost of living in the area. That will greatly influence the cost of riding. If you do a fellowship, it may be in a different area (it's a match system, just like residency for doctors), so know that you may be relocating. And there are fewer PhD level jobs to be found, so again you may need to relocate after school again to move where the jobs are.

                    Additionally, if you ever think you want to incorporate horses into your counseling, do check out the EAGALA website. Much better model for counseling, in my opinion, than any other system using horses. And, as I did my thesis on equine assisted psychotherapy, and did an exhaustive literature review, I feel pretty comfortable saying that out loud


                    • #11
                      LOL! I never expected anyone to take such an interest in what I do!

                      While I am not comfortable divulging my location (you can PM me for a more comprehensive explanation), I can tell you that I am a licensed psychotherapist. I work with depression, anxiety, PTSD (esp. with those traumatized by violence), relationship concerns, addiction...and a myriad of other issues.

                      I, like all other licensed therapists, had to be supervised for a certain number of hours - mine was 3000. Other states require less and occasionally require more. I no longer have to be supervised, but like any good therapist, I seek the advice of colleagues when faced with a particularly difficult case. I have recently been asked to provide supervision, and am debating whether I have the time.

                      I take insurance, and OOP payments. I make a good living, and according to colleagues with their Ph.D or PsyD, I apparently make around the same amount once you take into consideration the additional loans needed for the extra 2-3 years of school, maybe a few thousand less/yr.

                      I think what caused me to stop at my MA was a discussion with a professor of a post-grad class I was taking. The class was for MA's as well as PsyD students, and I made an "A" - the professor was quite interesting and was primarily focussed on PTSD. I asked him if I was selling myself short if I chose not to pursue my PsyD - he asked if I wanted to offer testing as part of my practice - I told him "no". He then imparted that he felt strongly I would be better off stopping at an MA and pursuing a private group/solo practice when I was ready.

                      I was trained in the medical model by a prominent hospital, where I worked in community psychiatry. I left this position approximately one year ago to go into private group practice. I absolutely LOVE my career! I used to work with a PsyD at the hospital, and I truly valued the aspect that she was able to provide me for my patients with the testing. She taught me quite a bit, and we often shared/traded techniques. The psychiatrist I worked for trusted me enough to make medication recommendations for our patients. This both shocked and amazed me. I felt truly valued as part of the treatment team. I also was trained by FEMA for crises response and was chosen to be part of the hospital's crises response team. Oddly enough, the building I practiced in at the hospital was one of the few places in our city that would be safe if a dirty bomb went off. It was safe due to the incredible amount of lead in the walls!!

                      Oh, I forgot to mention, I am ADD, and did not take my Concerta today, so I apologize if this post was all over the place!
                      Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people.
                      W. C. Fields


                      • #12
                        In our area, many years ago, having a Master's was enough to be competitive in the job market.

                        However, now, in this era of cutbacks, if you only have a Master's, people can hire someone with a BA to do the same job for half the cost or hire an actual psychologist. To become licensed to be competitive with a Master's, you have to have a number of hours to supervised practice and write the same exams as someone doing their PhD but you cannot call yourself a psychologist (in THIS area). There is a huge debate going on about this in Canada right now because, in some provinces, you can be called a psychologist with only a Master's.

                        It sounds like you have some amazing options open to you. That was a great point about the cost of living and access to barns. All the best!


                        • #13
                          For an idea of what may be available in Federal government jobs (for example VA, HHS, OSHA are some agencies that might need people in this field) take a look at www.usajobs.com
                          RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.


                          • #14
                            I know No Such Agency hires MA level therapists - one of my friends keeps trying to get me to apply - um, NO! LOL!

                            I left my previous job because between COMAR and JCAHO paperwork plus the hospital paperwork, I was doing more paperwork than people work - no thank you!!
                            Last edited by Eye in the Sky; Jun. 4, 2011, 11:54 PM. Reason: an additional letter in "JCAHO" ;-)
                            Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people.
                            W. C. Fields


                            • #15
                              Here is a list of all the state boards:


                              Hope it helps!
                              Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people.
                              W. C. Fields


                              • Original Poster

                                Thank you all so much Lots to look at and think about. While we are at it, any one have any school suggestions or ones to stay away from? Obviously where ever I am accepted is a major deciding factor, but I am trying to keep in mind a place that is in a good horse area as well.
                                It\'s not the color of the ribbon that counts,but the color of the ride.
                                Oh My!


                                • #17
                                  While it's amazing the range of topics you can get good feedback on here, as this topic isn't horse-related, we're going to close it.

                                  Feel free to continue this discussion via PM.

                                  Mod 1