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To current students: Research vs. clinical training

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So as I understand it, PhD programs in clinical psychology are ideal for students interested in both research and clinical training. I am wondering if current students (or anyone really) can comment on the best way to achieve this balance in practice during the PhD? Also what is the role of the supervisor in helping the student with this balance? Is it a bad thing to have a supervisor who is more on the scientist side of the scientist-practitioner model???

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I'm not a PhD student, I'm a psych masters student and I am doing research with both PsyD and PhD students. I also have friends in the program. Also I will be applying to PhD programs during the fall of 2016. So far from what I've gathered is that for PhD programs- you want to focus on research experience and getting publications/poster presentations. Now thats not to say having volunteer/clinical internship experience is bad- however a PhD is research based so they want to know you can handle the work and think like a scientist. A supervisor is a supervisor whether they focus on clinical work or research, they are there to help guide you into what you want to do. I joined a research lab with a professor who focuses on creativity and adolescence. I like forensic psychology -__-! The point is I was able to use his data collection on creativity and apply it to more my area & look at creativity in juvenile delinquents ;). If your looking into PsyD programs then more volunteer/clinical internship hours is your main concern with some research on the side. I suggest focusing more on research and if you can fit in a part time internship of experience it wouldn't hurt either. I am filling up my CV with Research all year even if its data entry and over the summer I'll be working as counselor for a trauma center. Hope this helps 

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I understand @Emely Moreta's point but I don't agree. I think it's based on your goals and the mission of the program. I would check to see if the program has a big emphasis on research. I think most schools that are research based are supposed to have the research-scientist model but I've came across some programs that have a scientist-practioner model and focus more on the scientist part. Like you said a scientist-practitioner model is supposed to be a balance of research and applied experiences so I don't think it's anything wrong with maintaining that balance if you want it.

Also, a PhD in clinical psych doesn't always lead to a research career. A good percentage of people with those degrees don't end up doing much research at all after graduation. Research is important so you should have the experience and know how to do it well but I think it's more important to tailor what you emphasize the most based on your future career. Your advisor should be supportive in helping you create the path that will best suite your needs while helping you fulfill the requirements of the program as well. I'm going into my PhD program hoping to get an even balance of research and clinical/school training as well but in school psych. My advisor is very supportive of this.

The PhD vs. PsyD comparison isn't always as clear cut as people make it. PhD's aren't just for research and you can have PhD and want a research or clinical career. That's the beauty of having a degree that'll train you for multiple careers vs. having a PsyD that mainly focus on the applied experiences. 

Edited by Love3

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On March 14, 2016 at 3:04 AM, clinpsyc said:

So as I understand it, PhD programs in clinical psychology are ideal for students interested in both research and clinical training. I am wondering if current students (or anyone really) can comment on the best way to achieve this balance in practice during the PhD? Also what is the role of the supervisor in helping the student with this balance? Is it a bad thing to have a supervisor who is more on the scientist side of the scientist-practitioner model???

Hey
I'm in a clinical psychology program, and I will be very honest in saying that it's hard to be a super productive researcher in such a program because we take many more classes than students in a research-only program, and we also have to do approximately 2 days of clinical work/week. That's not to say that it can't be done, but you definitely have to want to make the time for it. The supervisor plays a huge role in this. Some supervisors area all about research, and so they'll push you to get your research out and provide you with data/opportunities to get involved in their own research, whereas others acknowledge that some students just want to be clinicians and understand that the masters thesis and dissertations are just something you have to do to graduate. My supervisor is research oriented, and I really like it, because I'd like to keep my options open post graduation. Also, I'm not sure if you're Canadian or American, but in Canada a good research record goes a long way in terms of getting scholarships, so it's really helpful to have someone who helps you and encourages you to publish and present. 

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13 hours ago, Love3 said:

I understand @Emely Moreta's point but I don't agree. I think it's based on your goals and the mission of the program. I would check to see if the program has a big emphasis on research. I think most schools that are research based are supposed to have the research-scientist model but I've came across some programs that have a scientist-practioner model and focus more on the scientist part. Like you said a scientist-practitioner model is supposed to be a balance of research and applied experiences so I don't think it's anything wrong with maintaining that balance if you want it.

Also, a PhD in clinical psych doesn't always lead to a research career. A good percentage of people with those degrees don't end up doing much research at all after graduation. Research is important so you should have the experience and know how to do it well but I think it's more important to tailor what you emphasize the most based on your future career. Your advisor should be supportive in helping you create the path that will best suite your needs while helping you fulfill the requirements of the program as well. I'm going into my PhD program hoping to get an even balance of research and clinical/school training as well but in school psych. My advisor is very supportive of this.

The PhD vs. PsyD comparison isn't always as clear cut as people make it. PhD's aren't just for research and you can have PhD and want a research or clinical career. That's the beauty of having a degree that'll train you for multiple careers vs. having a PsyD that mainly focus on the applied experiences. 

I totally agree with @psychgradstudent, a PhD degree doesn't always lead to a research career. In fact there are people with PsyD degrees that go on to do research. But I never said it did lead to this. Each program is very unique to the other. However, you will find that PhD programs have a larger emphasis on research during your time in grad school than a PsyD programs which emphasize clinical experience. But you can expect to do a little of both in BOTH programs. Meaning if you decide to go for your PhD, expect to conduct research and do clinical work- same goes for a PsyD. After attending numerous grad school open houses and speaking to current students at the schools of my interest, many of them had years of research experience (PhD programs) or worked as RA's prior to applying to the program. And for those who didn't have any research experience, had 1-2 years of clinical experience along with near perfect GRE's, grades, and letters of recommendations, etc. Each application is seen individual but It will ultimately boil down to what you want to do and whether you are a good fit. I am applying to PhD programs because I like the research emphasis rather than the hands on approach. But I still very much plan on doing clinical work. If you apply to both PsyD's and PhD programs, then yes balancing out the two areas is very important. But figure out what it is you want and most importantly where you FIT. I was simply referring to getting into the school, what sets students apart are poster presentations, national conferences, and the letters of recommendation for PhD programs. I applied to one PsyD program last year and found that it was not a good fit, however I had little to no research experience and many good internships and clinical work. That goes to show you can possibly get in without research but for PhD its rare.  

I would email some professors/students of the schools of interest and find out what students they usually accept and the overall environment. Also on most websites they have the curriculum- Do your research. I have several internships in my resume but I'm trying my hardest to get some work published for research. In many PhD programs you have to decide on a Professor of interest to work with or someone that matches your research interest. And so their decision is often based on students they feel will be an asset to the school. But let the school tell you yourself because again all programs are different. 

 

 

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It's a very hard balance to achieve. If you break it down a Clinical Psych PhD is essentially two programs mushed into one. You have the research aspect which is the exact same as what someone in the Experimental Psych Phd program would be doing - dissertation, lab work - conferences, pubs, collaborations, undergrads etc. etc. , but then you also have the clinical side of the program which can be compared to a PsyD (I'm not that familiar with PsyD programs since there are only 1 or 2 programs in Canada, but from my understanding it's a focus on the clinical aspect of the program and not much research) which not only entails many hundreds of hours of practicum experience it also entails coursework as well. So regardless, it's hard and everyone struggles with the balance. however... what I noticed in most students is they generally lean towards one end or the other of a choice ... and that's deciding at the end of the day, what do you want out of the program? if your intention is to try to become a researcher/academic ect. then you would focus a lot on the research aspect all the while plowing through the clinical side. On the other hand if your intention after the program is to primarily work in clinical settings then you can focus more on gaining more clinical hours and skills etc. while still having to achieve all the research milestones expected but won't be as 'into it' if you will as someone else would be.. ie. not as many conferences, pubs etc. In my experience, supervisors whether they are primarily researchers or clinicians in an academic setting focus on the research aspect of the program - because that's their role and responsibility towards you which is to supervise your research throughout the program... They do understand and obviously know how much work it entails because they been through it but, will attempt to ensure that you don't fall behind in the research as things get busy very quickly with many deadlines but the research is just a thing that is continually ongoing so hard to keep track of it as concretely. 

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Thanks to everyone for the input! I am going into the M.Sc. program this fall, and it is assumed I will continue onto the PhD. I had some reservations at first because when I interviewed with my POI, there was a heavy emphasis on the research side of things. I even heard the phrase: I dont think you need a PhD to become clinicians. I was afraid that meant research work will come first, at the expense of time that should be spent on clinical training, which is why I wanted to know how the experience has been for previous and current students. I love research, but wouldnt want to be doing only that..hence the choice to sign up for double the work...

It does sound like it will be what I make of it, and that achieving the right balance is up to me more than on the program or supervisor...

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Guest joshw4288
3 hours ago, clinpsyc said:

Thanks to everyone for the input! I am going into the M.Sc. program this fall, and it is assumed I will continue onto the PhD. I had some reservations at first because when I interviewed with my POI, there was a heavy emphasis on the research side of things. I even heard the phrase: I dont think you need a PhD to become clinicians. I was afraid that meant research work will come first, at the expense of time that should be spent on clinical training, which is why I wanted to know how the experience has been for previous and current students. I love research, but wouldnt want to be doing only that..hence the choice to sign up for double the work...

It does sound like it will be what I make of it, and that achieving the right balance is up to me more than on the program or supervisor...

With that, I can only assume you are joining Elizabeth Hayden's lab. 

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