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Anvrchist

dear psych students, what would be the best route

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Hello,

 

Sorry for posting again but I’m having a hard time figuring out if I want to apply for a masters program in psychology for the time being and later see if I’d like to get my PhD but I’ve been seeing lots of posts where it’s easier to apply straight into the PhD program. I graduate next spring with my BA in psych, I want to start preparing myself for my grad school apps. If I do not have any research experience would it be better off for me to apply to a masters program instead to gain some experience? I really want to make the right choice and investment since I probably have to get loans which I really don’t mind since I’ve avoided loans during my undergrad years. But I would like it to be worth it too. Any advice would be helpful or if you have similar experiences, thank you!

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the whole point of doing a master's would be to get research experience. If you can get research experience and get posters or potentially publications, that might be better financially than investing in a master's program. nothing about the master's itself makes you stand out more; however, a strong background in research will.

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Posted (edited)

If you are graduating next Spring with no research experience, your chances of getting into a PhD are very, very low. However, this doesn't mean you have to go and get a master's. The best route to take can often be to get a job as a research assistant/coordinator/etc in a psychology lab after graduation. That is IF you really want to shoot for the PhD.

From the post, you don't seem entirely convinced that a PhD is what you want to do. I think the bigger question here is what are your career goals? Answering that question will help clarify a bit more what path you should take to prepare yourself for what comes after undergrad.

Edited by PsychWannabee

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4 minutes ago, PsychWannabee said:

If you are graduating next Spring with no research experience, your chances of getting into a PhD are very, very low. However, this doesn't mean you have to go and get a master's. The best route to take can often be to get a job as a research assistant/coordinator/etc in a psychology lab after graduation. That is IF you really want to shoot for the PhD.

From the post, you don't seem entirely convinced that a PhD is what you want to do. I think the bigger question here is what are your career goals? Answering that question will help clarify a bit more what path you should take to prepare yourself for what comes after undergrad.

At the beginning I was set on pursuing a masters in mental health counseling. Then after doing some research I was interested in pursuing my masters but in psychology and after getting my MA in it, I’d either continue for a PhD or find a job within the field. Right now, I’m more focused to work in mental health counseling because that’s the area where I’m more interested in. 

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19 minutes ago, PsychWannabee said:

If you are graduating next Spring with no research experience, your chances of getting into a PhD are very, very low. However, this doesn't mean you have to go and get a master's. The best route to take can often be to get a job as a research assistant/coordinator/etc in a psychology lab after graduation. That is IF you really want to shoot for the PhD.

From the post, you don't seem entirely convinced that a PhD is what you want to do. I think the bigger question here is what are your career goals? Answering that question will help clarify a bit more what path you should take to prepare yourself for what comes after undergrad.

+ I was thinking of applying for a masters in mental health counseling and later if I decide to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology. Because I’m interested in wanting to assess and treat people. 

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Posted (edited)
14 minutes ago, Anvrchist said:

+ I was thinking of applying for a masters in mental health counseling and later if I decide to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology. Because I’m interested in wanting to assess and treat people. 

If you're interested solely in providing psychotherapy as a treatment, then you can do all of that with only a masters :)

I'm not sure what you mean by "assess" - masters level clinicians can diagnose, but some specific assessments (e.g. Rorschach, neuropsych batteries) can only be performed by doctoral-level psychologists with proper training.

Also worth noting that many masters in "psychology" (unless they are specifically clinical psychology) are not license-eligible unless you take extra courses. Many of them are geared towards folks who need research experience and GPA boosters for doctoral applications. They will require a research project / thesis and may not include enough hours of internship to meet state licensing requirements as an LPC/LMHC.

Edited by dancedementia

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I am not sure why you needed to open a second thread on the same topic instead of posting in the thread you already made about this topic a couple of days ago...

 

I have nothing to add except that I firmly believe a research assistant position would be wise to apply for and work at for ~2 years after undergrad if you do not have research experience now and want to pursue a PhD in Clinical that from a non-diploma-mill institution. 

 

I am also not sure what you mean by "job in the field" with your MA in psychology. I echo the above in saying that many MA in psych programs are not license-eligible, fundamentally meaning your "jobs in the field" after the MA would be completely unrelated to your training in most cases. 

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1 hour ago, Anvrchist said:

+ I was thinking of applying for a masters in mental health counseling and later if I decide to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology. Because I’m interested in wanting to assess and treat people. 

What experience do you have working in the field? Have you experienced any ‘helping professions’?

Which demographic do you want to work with?

Do you want to focus on psychotherapy, as dancedementia said, or are you interested in testing?

When you look at mental health/substance abuse/clinical psychology, what questions do you have that there aren’t answers to?

In general terms, a clinical psychology PhD wants to work towards answering a research question as well as clinical work; a PsyD wants to focus on clinical work, which can include psychotherapy and both administering and interpreting assessments and tests; and a Master’s level clinician (LMHC, LCSW, LMFT) can fulfill a variety of roles while their clinical focus is typically therapy. Any of those licenses can qualify you for a leadership role in an organization or allow you to start your own practice.

If you can’t answer any of those questions confidently, you might want to consider part-time work in a research lab and a community mental health setting because you’ll work out pretty quickly which aspects you enjoy.

For mental health experience, at the Bachelor’s level some options are:

If you want to work with special needs children, you may want to look into Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), which is a growing field. There is some discussion as to its efficacy, but it is regulated. You can undergo the training quickly to become a Registered Behavioral Technician and start working quickly with minimal investment. You can continue to work and grow, eventually obtaining a masters or doctoral degree in psychology or counseling.

If you want to work with chronic mental illness, psychosis, suicidal ideation, you can work as a behavioral technician (different from ABA) in a locked unit. It’s a hard job but rewarding. You certainly are exposed to a wide variety of patients. You could also work as a case manager or discharge planner. Case management can be extremely demanding and burnout is high.

You can work as an intake coordinator for a variety of institutions, private and non-profit.

You can work as a substance abuse counselor, depending on organization and state regulation. 

You can work in Prevention, educating communities on avoiding issues with substance abuse and mental illness.

There is a lot you can do, but to progress you will need further education and licensure. It’s just a great way to experience the reality of the work. I’ve met many people who were in love with the idea of providing therapy and then found it emotionally draining or enraptured with working with children until the met the parents.

 

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3 hours ago, Anvrchist said:

Hello,

 

Sorry for posting again but I’m having a hard time figuring out if I want to apply for a masters program in psychology for the time being and later see if I’d like to get my PhD but I’ve been seeing lots of posts where it’s easier to apply straight into the PhD program. I graduate next spring with my BA in psych, I want to start preparing myself for my grad school apps. If I do not have any research experience would it be better off for me to apply to a masters program instead to gain some experience? I really want to make the right choice and investment since I probably have to get loans which I really don’t mind since I’ve avoided loans during my undergrad years. But I would like it to be worth it too. Any advice would be helpful or if you have similar experiences, thank you!

my advice to you is to find mentorship. you still have over a year to get involved in a psychology lab at your university. (it doesn't have to be in your desired research area, but it has to be in a productive lab and a lab that provides opportunities for undergrads, so read the RA job descriptions before joining a lab. Keep in mind that productiveness is not all about making posters and publications but it also involves gaining hands-on experience like managing studies, running in-lab studies, programming qualtrics, supervised statistics experience, lit searches and reviews, hypothesis testing, even learning research jargon, etc. ALL OF THIS WILL BE REFLECTED IN YOUR CV AND PERSONAL STATEMENT. iT WILL BE NATURAL AND FLOW EASILY IF YOU HAVE THE RESEARCH EXPERIENCE.)

Build a trust relationship with your PI (the lab owner basically an) and the grad students and share your intentions with them. They will tell you that it is hard, almost impossible, etc (this is very true as it is very competitive), but if you decide to try and apply straight out of undergrad, they will ideally provide directions, and help you. this means helping you read your personal statement, do mock interviews with you, provide legitimate do's and don'ts of the process.  this is 10x better than taking advice from the internet. trust me!  it is shocking what a lot of people do during applications that are a huge NO-NOs and a red flag. remember that these people see applications come in every year and are ideally involved in one way or another in the process. 

Also, if you are going into a Ph.D. program, make sure you are interested in research and joining a good research lab will help give you an idea of what it is like. PhDs are usually 6-year commitments and can be longer if you decide to do a fellowship and go into academia. Otherwise, becoming an LMHC might just do well for you if you can afford it. I know some schools have programs were they cover your tuition but you have to sign a 2 - 5-year work commitment in underserved areas. This is not to say that you cannot go get a PhD if you just want to practice because you definitely can but you have to do a ton of research (which you might hate/or might cause you to drop out which is why programs are wary of admitting people who do not like research because they are losing an investment) even if it is a scientist-practitioner model.

Mentorship is great and it does require a miracle to get into a Ph.D. program straight from undergrad! All in all, stay informed, do a lot of personal research!

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