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Narrowing down Psych Counseling PHD programs.....Where do I even start?

Comrade Mikey

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I am a psych BA graduate and I have take the last 2 years off to work off my loans (at the vaguely relevant work of case management involving the homeless for a nonprofit grant type program) and I am gearing up to try for this fall. After pondering my options I have decided to pursue counseling PHD programs as I feel the lens they use would suit me well (from talking to professors and reading about it.).

My goals are to both research and practice as a way to merge my two passions. I love practical hands on work that I would have as a practitioner/clinician and care greatly that what I am doing has tangible effects. I worry about getting stuck in my ivory tower whenever I get involved with research but also care about making sure my methods are solid. I was in a quantitative psychology lab so it was drilled into me how important methods and stats are and how severe the methodological crises really are in psychology.

With that said I do not have a particular theoretical area or approach of passion as I find it all very extremely interesting. The only topic that I care about would be disparities between disadvantaged groups and finding ways to close those gaps.

I do care about making sure I am practicing with appropriate rigor specifically in regards to statistics (I had limited experience doing posters with mixed effects modeling, learned about different kinds of LGMs and HLMs, and became extremely enthralled with the tools structural equation modeling could offer.)

So to get to the point : how do I find a place I have a good fit for if the only thing I have is some slightly higher than average stats experience. Secondly how do I even determine what counseling PHD programs will have that level of rigor (it is my understanding that usually clinical programs are the ones do this).

Any advice or direction would be appreciated!


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Even though you find many areas of research interesting, you need to narrow down something more specific. Following that, you look at which faculty are doing that kind of research. Your statement of purpose, regardless of whether it's a clinical psychology or counseling psychology program, is by and large going to focus on your fit with an individual mentor's program of research. While there are a few minor philosophical differences between counseling psychology and clinical psychology, those differences have shrunk significantly over the years. The end license is identical and the work settings are about the same as well. For instance, you can find a counseling psychologist in an inpatient psychiatric unit and a clinical psychologist in a college counseling center. 

However, if you don't have significant research experience, including posters or even a publication, you may need to get some more research experience to make your application more competitive. 

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