Post # 1
How did you decide what you wanted to specialize in?! I’m two quarters away from graduating with my Psychology BA, and I have NO clue! There’s so many things I’m interested in.
I think I’d do great in trauma counselling, because I’m good at compartmentalizing and focusing on the problem at hand vs. getting upset about hearing terrible things.. but even that specialization seems like it has a lot of sub-categories… but I’m not sure.
I love watching the CBT therapists on Obsessed and think their methods are awesome. I’d heard of CBT before but seeing it in action is pretty interesting:)
I also LOVE learning about neuropsychology.. but I’m not sure if I’d find the actual career to be boring if I’m just doing the neuropsych tests all the time.
I just don’t know, and I really don’t know how to narrow it down… and I feel like it should be narrowed before applying to grad school! I applied for an internship at a domestic violence center for some experience with trauma situations.. but didn’t get it 🙁 I’m currently a research assistant, though, which is giving me a decent taste of graduate school:)
I just don’t know how to figure this all out! It’s not a huuuuge rush because I plan to take a year off between undergrad and graduate school to enjoy being married for a bit before being stressed out in a doctoral program:) but it may be longer if that’s what it takes. I’m just scared of wasting my time applying or getting my PhD if I don’t know what I want to do with it in the long run!
Post # 3
Well, there are a lot of things to consider.
PsyD will mean basically you’re trained to do therapy, but it’s less likely you’ll end up in research and even less likely you’ll end up in academia. Truth be told, right or wrong, there is a LOT of elitism against PsyD’s. Other cons….those programs are usually not funded and you have to pay tuition (personally, I think it is not worth the investment in this case, but a few programs are funded such as Rutgers’ program), you won’t really be competitive for careers working with people with major disorders (major depression, PTSD, etc) because PsyD’s emphasize this less in training. It is less likely you’ll be able to work in neuropsych even during grad school just because of the availability of PsyD programs. Pros…they are generally easier to get into, if you are not inclined toward research you’ll be happier in a PsyD program. If you’re interested in a PsyD, my utmost recommendation for good programs are Rutgers and Widener.
In terms of picking a specialty area….what did you learn in undergrad classes that most intrigued you? What left you with the most deep questions that you wanted further answers to? What are you passionate about? For me, I was always interested in social justice and my favorite lectures were those about helping behavior and stereotyping/prejudice/intergroup relations, and also neuropsych. So I applied to a social neuropsych oriented lab and have had an amazing experience as a PhD student (I’m at the dissertation stage so alllllllmost done)
If you want to do therapy you need to go either clininal or counseling. However, if you want to do therapy but no research and aren’t interested in the major disorders you might be better of with an MSW or perhaps masters in counseling. CBT is sort of the gold standard of training so that leaves most programs as options for you (VERY few train under psychodynamic or “neo-Freudian/neo-Jungian” approach and usually these are PsyD programs, I can’t think of any off the top of my head that are radical behaviorist these days)
You’ll need to really have a clear idea of 1. what you want to study and 2. what kind of career you want, because in psych you usually apply directly to a particular lab/advisor, so you are only going to apply to work with faculty who share your interests. One of the most important elements of the application is “fit” or how well your interests complement those of your advisor, as described in your statement of purpose. Some clinical programs also specifically say that they are training people to go into research (although you will be licensed as a therapist) so find that out because if you apply there and talk about how you want to be a therapist and neglect to mention your research interests then your chances of getting in go way down.
A lot of this is pretty general answers though, but if you have a specific question or anything feel free to respond/PM me.
Post # 4
holy bananas. my response was longer than your question. my apologies! I work on the recruitment and admissions committee as the grad rep so I talk about this a lot lol
Post # 5
Haha no problem! I appreciate it! I loved the neuropsychology and abnormal psych stuff, as well as the family violence material.. Which sounds terrible, but I want to make a difference! I’d love to be able to rehabilitate mothers/children coming out of domestic violence situations and find ways to better help them. Which is why I’m SO BUMMED I didn’t get that internship, lol! But those are the three things that really captured my interest.
What kind of stuff do you do in your social neuropsych program?
Post # 6
@Mrs. Puffin: I think that’s awesome…it’s an area we need more people in, but because it’s so sad most people avoid it. I’d try volunteering at a suicide helpline or in a shelter (even for a summer, or a few hours a week)…that would really help your application later because with something so heavy they want to see that you know what you’re getting into and won’t change your mind after 1 client. I’d say you may really want to look into a masters in counseling/MSW, they are frequently the ones who work with those populations because of the social work system and how insurance covers things
I study intergroup relations and how to improve them. I look at things like how trust is maintained within and across groups and how feeling victimized impacts trust, as well as how people remember intergroup atrocities and how memorials affect intergroup attitudes and what not. Then I usually stick people in an fMRI scanner and see how it plays out in the brain to answer some questions about process that you can’t get at by asking or watching behavior lol. I love it! Grad school is hard, but for me at least it has been incredibly wonderful.
Post # 7
I am just finishing up my PsyD is Clinical Psychology. The reason I chose a PsyD program over a PhD program is the focus on actual therapy and becoming a good clinician. I was not interested in the research and academia aspects of a PhD. I want to work hands on with clients and see positive changes in their lives.
My suggestion to you would be to find an APA approved program PsyD program, since you appear to have a similar view to me about directly working with clients. As far as a specialty, you have the option of experiencing many different specialty areas through your practicum and internship placements. After you have some more experience, you may find you don’t like the work in an area you previously liked in study, but really enjoy something you otherwise had never thought of. For example, when I entered grad school, I thought I was going to do outpatient therapy. Now towards completion, I have found that I really don’t like outpatient therapy, but much rather prefer forensic work, including sex offender treatment, competency and risk assessments. In addition, one of the things that really drew me to becoming a psychologist was the fact that I had so many options in specialty and I could with a bit of training start something new if I found the work I was doing boring or too draining.
There was definitely as bias against PsyD’s at one time, but I really don’t see this as an issue now. I have had practicum and internship supervisors state that they prefer to have PsyDs because they are more prepared to work directly with clients in areas of therapy and assessment. In addition, I work at a State-run mental health facility and at least half of the psychologists have PsyDs.