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What counts as clinical hours on a MA or PsyD application?

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Hi guys,

Long time reader, first time poster. I will be graduating with a BS in psychology next spring (May 2022), and I've decided I will definitely be furthering my education. Depending on my GRE scores and GPA, I will be applying for either a masters program or PsyD program in clinical psychology. I am leaning towards an MA program because I feel that I would benefit from the extra 2 years of graduate school (plus, I'm unsure if my future GPA/GRE scores will be good enough for a PsyD program). I have been pouring over forums and articles about graduate school and I understand that experience in the intended area of study is as important or can at least help applicants with lower than OR average grades/scores.

The question: will my current job as an RBT (registered behavior technician) count as clinical hours or at least boost my application over those with no psychology related experience? Just a quick overview, as an RBT I work in a clinic that provides therapy to autistic children (although our oldest client is 21). I implement treatment plans that my supervising BCBA creates. I use psychology every second of my work shift. Does this job qualify as the type of experience clinical psychology programs look for? I've heard that they only care about experience in a hospital setting or experience where one would shadow some type of doctor (MD, PhD, PsyD). 


Edited by psychkidd
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I don't think they would expect you to have in-depth clinical experience yet at an undergrad level, so certainly anything is a plus. idk about PsyD but I personally don't think PhD want you to shadow doctors. A licensed Psychologist will be more than good enough I think (but if a doctor is whom you want to shadow then that's ofc up to you). 

Edited by venus rose
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If your ultimate goal is to apply for a PsyD programme, can you hep me understand the benefit of spending two additional years on a Masters?

Clinical experience is clinical experience. I don't think it would hurt you to get some more diverse work experience, if you are able. It's about you demonstrating interest in the field of clinical psychology. I was accepted to a PhD programme without a Master's, but I had worked for a psychologist in private practice, as an intake clinician in community mental health, as a discharge planner for a crisis unit, and as a substance abuse counselor.

As an aside, anyone who wants to stand out as a candidate should be able to illustrate their maturity, be introspective, and see the 'big picture'. My experience of both interviewees and accepted candidates thus far suggests that the better students  have spent some time in personal development, reading widely, developing their world view, and showing clinical or academic curiosity. Graduate school is an extremely poor substitute for direct experience. It's just not reality.

Honestly, work on yourself, not just to look good on an application, but to be a fully realized, well-rounded, curious and competent individual. Those people are rare, and if you're able to get even close to it, you'll stand out, I promise. I'm a middle-aged 2nd year clinical psychology PhD student and I spend plenty of time talking to faculty about this subject, the quality of students, the importance of personal growth and self-exploration. Maturity is not lost on them.

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I think that your experience is helpful for sure because you can better articulate your interests and have experience that may help you form a thesis/choose a practicum. I would say you should apply to both clinical PsyD's and Masters. Just make sure you know why you want to go on to grad school and what your end goal is because both of those types of programs typically don't have much or any funding.

As far as your experiences boosting you over someone with no experience- depends on the program. Lots of places value research experience and don't expect much on the way of clinical hours. If you were looking at a master's in social work or counseling however, clinical experience might mean more. 

So ask yourself what your end goal is, what these programs prioritize insofar as stats/work history, and if you would benefit more from gaining more work experience or going into one of these programs next year.

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