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Hello!

I was wondering if anyone had any advice or experience on beginning a career in psychology with an arts background. I graduated in 2019 with a BFA in Design and Production from a university with a conservatory teaching style. My degree is focused specifically in Wig and Makeup Design. I work (when it's not a pandemic) in NYC as a wig builder for broadway and have built wigs for individuals with medical related hair loss. I have a real desire to work in a helping profession specifically as a therapist or psychologist. I started college with a range of AP credits so I wasn't required to take a Math or Science so I have no science classes on my transcript. I would love to complete a postbac focused in Clinical Psych and Research but after looking into several programs I just don't see how I could qualify for those. I don't have the money to apply to programs without a general confidence in my success. It feels like psych graduate studies is a bit of a closed loop. Research experience is necessary for grad school/post bacc, can't get research experience without prereq academic or outside of formal academic structure. I've considered UC Berkeley EXT. Psych program(cost $4,000) but would it be worth it to do an online postbac then apply to another on campus postbac for research experience and professor interaction?  Short of getting a second Bachelors degree (which really isn't an option I'm considering) I'm at a lost. I just want to clearly convey my interest and show that I am diligent and passionate student that can handle academic rigor. 

Edited by Samjacobs
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While tricky, I don't think it's impossible. Initially, my 1st question is why the switch? Why do you want to be a clinician and what do you want your day to day to look like? If you strictly want to do therapy, then a masters in counseling or social work may be an easier and faster path to get you to where you want to be. 

Also, if you are dead set on a clinical psychology PhD the key is research research research. Is there a university nearby? See if you can volunteer as a research assistant in a psych faculty's lab. If you're in the NYC area, there are tons of schools such as all the CUNYs, NYU, Columbia, etc. If you happen to live in NJ, you have your pick of Rutgers, Montclair State, William Paterson, Seton Hall, etc. You can also try to find paid research assistant/research coordinator positions, but that may be trickier since you don't seem to have a research background. I would also recommend you take some basic psych courses at a community college. A. You'll need these as pre-reqs anyway, and B. You will have an easier time with research if you've at least taken an introductory research methods/statistics course for psychology/social science. You also want to think about what your particular area of interest is for research. Ideally, you want to gain experience doing that kind of research prior to applying with a few posters and maybe even a publication. When applying to Clinical Psych PhDs, the research match with a faculty member is a big component, as you typically enter with the expectation you work in that person's lab and they serve as your research mentor. You want to have a fleshed out idea of what kind of research you want to do in order to convey that fit. 

That is all I can think of for now, but please feel free to ask any follow up questions!

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1 hour ago, Lewis-H said:

Before beginning the PhD, students must complete either coursework in the department’s MA program or the equivalent coursework within another accredited university’s MA or MFA program. Students may transfer up to 30 credits from MA/MFA level work, pending departmental review. The following is the approved normal course of study for students pursuing the PhD in Theatre and Performance. In all cases, a student's particular program should be determined in consultation with his/her academic advisor.  Students may also take cognate courses outside the Department of Theatre and Dance to augment their areas of interest. These must be planned in advance with the advisor.

This is not the case for the majority of US based clinical psychology PhD programs, which is what OP was asking about. 

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On 5/20/2020 at 10:23 PM, PsyDuck90 said:

While tricky, I don't think it's impossible. Initially, my 1st question is why the switch? Why do you want to be a clinician and what do you want your day to day to look like? If you strictly want to do therapy, then a masters in counseling or social work may be an easier and faster path to get you to where you want to be. 

Also, if you are dead set on a clinical psychology PhD the key is research research research. Is there a university nearby? See if you can volunteer as a research assistant in a psych faculty's lab. If you're in the NYC area, there are tons of schools such as all the CUNYs, NYU, Columbia, etc. If you happen to live in NJ, you have your pick of Rutgers, Montclair State, William Paterson, Seton Hall, etc. You can also try to find paid research assistant/research coordinator positions, but that may be trickier since you don't seem to have a research background. I would also recommend you take some basic psych courses at a community college. A. You'll need these as pre-reqs anyway, and B. You will have an easier time with research if you've at least taken an introductory research methods/statistics course for psychology/social science. You also want to think about what your particular area of interest is for research. Ideally, you want to gain experience doing that kind of research prior to applying with a few posters and maybe even a publication. When applying to Clinical Psych PhDs, the research match with a faculty member is a big component, as you typically enter with the expectation you work in that person's lab and they serve as your research mentor. You want to have a fleshed out idea of what kind of research you want to do in order to convey that fit. 

That is all I can think of for now, but please feel free to ask any follow up questions!

Thank you so much for your response! 

I am interested in doing therapy, but I think the societal impact of research is greater. Especially research focused on minorities. I'm very interested in researching how race effects the psychology of people of color with a specific focus on African Americans. I'm not quite sure about the direction of that research but I'm hoping to look at the Black family and how familial pressure and jaundiced perception of mental health care can affect teens and young adults seeking counseling. 

Since my original post I have relocated to NC. Covid related job loss made living in NY a luxury I couldn't afford. The closest University with a research lab is UNCG. Something that is beneficial is that UNCG has a research lab that is very closely related to what I hope to study at the graduate level. My plan for right now is to enroll in the Spring as a non degree seeking student take some prereqs and possibly some graduated level psych courses while I try to get some research experience. Maybe a Postbacc after that? I'm a black woman and a first generation high school and college graduate. I've come across a few postbacc programs dedicated to diversifying the field.

Should I just start taking the basics and as I do that reach out to faculty? I don't want to jump the gun and start spamming potential mentors especially since I don't have a CV. However I do want to make sure I'm taking the classes that will directly help me gain the appropriate experience. I've just been reading a lot about the etiquette of contacting potential Professors and don't want to start off on the wrong foot.

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I think that sounds like a good plan. Most faculty will want research assistants to have taken a research methods course at minimum. The research lab's website may have an application process that they explain for those interested in joining the lab. When you do reach out, make sure you have looked at the research the faculty member has put out and familiarize yourself with the current projects listed on the website. It's always good to show you've done your due diligence. I don't think you necessarily need a formal postbacc or anything. Really, just try to get some research posters and the undergrad psych pre-reqs. I literally cannot stress enough how much faculty care about research experience. That and a clearly written statement of purpose which explains your goals and POI fit are probably the biggest factors of your application. 

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Before beginning the PhD, students must complete either coursework in the department’s MA program or the equivalent coursework within another accredited university’s MA or MFA program. Students may transfer up to 30 credits from MA/MFA level work, pending departmental review. The following is the approved normal course of study for students pursuing the PhD in Theatre and Performance. In all cases, a student's particular program should be determined in consultation with his/her academic advisor.  Students may also take cognate courses outside the Department of Theatre and Dance to augment their areas of interest. These must be planned in advance with the advisor.

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