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Switch from OT to PSYD? Need Advice


cgrapids
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Hello, 

I am an occupational therapist - and I am interested in becoming a Psychologist.  I am really drawn to psych, and I have to say I am a bit disillusioned with OT, it doesn't feel right to me.  I would much rather help patients with mental health problems than physical dysfunction.  

I am in my 30s.  Is it sensible to pursue a PhD or PsyD or should I call it quits and stick with my profession? Thank you for advice!

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Hi CGrapids, I've met some "untraditional" doctorate Clinical Psychology students who started pursuing psychology in their late-30s and early-40s after switching careers, so you're not in bad company. It's doable, and I believe there are transferable knowledge and skills from OT that complements Clinical Psychology quite well depending on your clinical/research interests

Edited by JoePianist
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I don't think you can't switch necessarily. 

However, from a pragmatic point of view there are some questions you probably need to ask as someone in your 30s:

-If you want to pursue a PsyD or PhD that is going to be at least 4-5 years of full-time schooling with a clinical internship for a full year after that before licensure. Is that worth is versus a Masters degree with which you can also practice?

-Are you interested in research? If yes, pursue a PhD. If no, pursue a PsyD. (This is a bit of an exaggeration as I've met research-oriented PsyDs and clinically-oriented PhDs, but in general this is how things separate.) 

-Do you have a family/are you geographically restricted for your applications? If so, getting into a good program may be extremely difficult for PhD/PsyDs?

-What draws you to psychology versus OT? You say OT "doesn't feel right to you" but you don't really explain why helping people with mental health problems is a higher calling for you. Some elaboration for yourself may be good. Perhaps you've already thought this out a lot... I just didn't get a lot from the post.

 

Hope this pragmatic view helps.

 

 

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10 hours ago, Clinapp2017 said:

I don't think you can't switch necessarily. 

However, from a pragmatic point of view there are some questions you probably need to ask as someone in your 30s:

-If you want to pursue a PsyD or PhD that is going to be at least 4-5 years of full-time schooling with a clinical internship for a full year after that before licensure. Is that worth is versus a Masters degree with which you can also practice?

-Are you interested in research? If yes, pursue a PhD. If no, pursue a PsyD. (This is a bit of an exaggeration as I've met research-oriented PsyDs and clinically-oriented PhDs, but in general this is how things separate.) 

-Do you have a family/are you geographically restricted for your applications? If so, getting into a good program may be extremely difficult for PhD/PsyDs?

-What draws you to psychology versus OT? You say OT "doesn't feel right to you" but you don't really explain why helping people with mental health problems is a higher calling for you. Some elaboration for yourself may be good. Perhaps you've already thought this out a lot... I just didn't get a lot from the post.

 

Hope this pragmatic view helps.

 

 

Another pragmatic point: if you go a psyd route it a lot of debt to take on. Even a fully funded phd slashes your salary for 5ish years. Not saying that is a deal breaker but it's a very important consideration. A masters would also do this but for a shorter amount of time and for less money.

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Thank you for your input.  I didn't elaborate regarding my desire to pursue a Psychology higher degree; I feel called to help  people work with emotional problems and psychological disorders.  I have encountered people with mental health challenges in my work as an OT.  The debt is a serious concern to carefully consider.

I have some other questions:
- APA internships - what is this issue?  We didn't have any equivalent problem in OT - if one doesn't procure an APA approved match site what does this mean for the person's licensure or ability to practice?
- I had some poor performance as an undergrad which I ameliorated with my pre-requisite coursework for OT (have a 3.8 in the last 90  credits of academic work)
- My graduate work in OT school for my MS is at a 3.8 and I went to a well respected first tier program with an emphasis in research in our field.  I know that most PsyD and PhD programs will not consider your previous graduate work / gpa if i am not mistaken.

I have volunteered for the suicide hotline and rape crisis center here in my city, and I truly found it remarkably rewarding to help people struggling with these issues. 

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I honestly think your work as an OT can be used as a strength in your applications to doctorate Clinical Psychology programs, if you're smart in how you "market" yourself. I think that choosing a Clinical Psychology program that focuses on medical populations will be especially beneficial for you, given your extensive work as an OT. Some good examples of such programs are UAB (the University of Alabama at Birmingham), East Carolina University, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and Virginia Commonwealth University.

It's also important to choose a specific research interest that matches one or two professors in these programs. For doctorate Clinical Psychology applications, it's more about applying for a specific professor to work in their lab, rather than applying for the program itself. Of course, you need to be mindful to apply to programs whose philosophical orientation meets your career goals. Programs range from focusing on almost exclusively with "clinical/counseling" training to solely hardcore scientific research. The program's application website spells out what their training focus is.

About your question with APA-accredited internships, it basically makes you a more competitive job candidate and opens many doors for better opportunities. In relation, you also want to choose to apply for APA-accredited doctorate Clinical Psychology programs too in order to get the best possible training and preparation for actual licensure

Hope this helps!

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