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I have a dream, but am confused on how to proceed.


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Hi all,

I'd very much appreciate some of your sage wisdom on how I should proceed. Apologies in advance if any of these questions have been posted before, I looked but didn't see any quite like them. Firstly I live in Canada and would prefer to go to school in Canada so advice from Canadians would be extra appreciated (although Americans are more than welcome to chime in). I've decided I want to go back to do a masters program in psychology of some sort with the ultimate goal of one day opening my own private counseling practice, I would prefer a less research oriented program as I have very little desire to pursue a Phd. I am open to pursuing any program that will make me eligible to legally practice as a licensed counselor in Canada (and abroad if possible).

My main hurdles are as follows:

- I have a fairly low GPA. It hovers just above a cumalative 3.0.

- I do not have an honours degree. My degree is a 90 credit hour bachelor of arts with a major in psychology from the University of Winnipeg

- I currently have no research experience

- I currently have no academic letter's of recommendation

On the bright side (gotta keep optimistic:)

- I have a plethora of related work experience. For the past 4 years I've worked in a variety of positions including as a youth care worker, residential counselor, case manager, outreach worker and psychiatric crisis worker. With many different populations, including but not limited to, at risk youth, sexually exploited youth, woman diagnosed with schizophrenia, men diagnosed with axis 1 mental health disorders coming out of incarceration and indigenous peoples.

-Work related LOR's should not be an issue.

With all this in mind, I would love some advice on how to proceed. I'm willing to work my ass of for the next year in order to prepare myself, I just need to know where best to allocate my time/resources.

- For starters, would you recommend I take the GRE in order to offset my less than stellar GPA, or is that only necessary for Phd   hopefuls?

- I've already started emailing possible voluntary research assistant positions in my city, so hopefully I can get both some LOR's out of it and some shiny new research experience for my application.

Also if anyone has any programs they would like to recommend for me I would appreciate it. I have mostly been look at MEd in Counseling programs but like I said above I'll consider any accredited program that results in me being licensed as a counselor. I should mention that I'd be willing to do an MSW with a clinical focus if necessary as well.

It seems that a great many of the MEd in counseling programs i've seen say they require a 4 year degree or honours, and some of them say they require a higher GPA. I'm wondering if I should still apply for them next year and hope my other qualifications outshine the perceived shortcomings. Is this a realistic strategy, or should I not bother with these particular programs at all?

Lastly if you all could give me some words of encouragement I would love you forever, the doubt is strong in me lately and I could use a pep talk haha

Sorry for the essay! and thanks again




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25 minutes ago, dd11 said:

Hi Syedahum,

Thanks for the reply. I just looked up the program it looks interesting. Do you know if it's fully accredited?

I am not sure if it is actually (sorry, I should probably know). But I was able to get a practicum at a well known hospital and a good job now that I'm at the end of the program, so I guess the program has atleast somewhat of a good name. I dont want to give you the wrong info on accreditation! 

Definitely look into speaking with someone from the school about this, if possible for you though. They are very open and helpful.

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13 minutes ago, dd11 said:

I actually just moved to Toronto, so I'll definitely give them a call, thanks! how did you like the program, did you learn a lot?

It's a new school so it has its ups and downs. The faculty is great because they are very experienced and talented therapists. I ended up wanting more research experience so it wasn't great for me but if you are clinically focussed, its a lot of hands on learning, lots of practicum hours, and a few good courses. It's mostly just what you make of it :) 

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It sounds like what i'm looking for, i'll call them in the new year to see if they're accredited. I can't see anything on their website about it. So now that you're done this program will you be applyling for a more research focused one?

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51 minutes ago, dd11 said:

It sounds like what i'm looking for, i'll call them in the new year to see if they're accredited. I can't see anything on their website about it. So now that you're done this program will you be applyling for a more research focused one?

Yep I'm applying to clinical psych PhD programs this year *fingers crossed*

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