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I graduated with a BA in Psychology last December and am trying to find the right program to suit my intended career goals. My biggest interest is to do conduct research concerning mindfulness and meditation practices. I would love to be able to collect both brain data as well as human behavioral data to support the use of these methods with those with both clinical and non-clinical mental health needs. 

My interest is to show changes in the brain as well as daily behavior after I have worked with participants. I would like to be able to work with people to teach them mindfulness methods as well as meditation, breathing exercises, possibly yoga or qigong, myself either with individuals, couples, families, or groups. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction programs such as these have already been used in other studies.  Teaching them these skills myself caters to my initial desire to be a counselor/therapist.

My subsequent desire is to complete controlled experiments to show the changes in brain activity and structure possibly using EEG, MR, fMRI, basically what I am able to get my hands on. I would like to be able to pair this data with behavioral data collected from self-reports, peer-reports, surveys, or observation.

Now, I am willing to settle/begin with doing research around types of neurocounseling methods, mindfulness is just my end game, hopefully. I want to be able to directly work in teaching these skills as well as gathering, cleaning, and analyzing the brain data collected.

I am having a difficult time choosing a graduate program to fit my desires. Should my masters be counseling or clinical? Should I look for a cognitive, neuroscience, mental health, behavioral, or research program? Is it more important that the course work covers areas I'm looking into or should I be more concerned with finding a lab/professor to work with? Do I still need to become a licensed counselor/therapist to work with people on these skill sets and exercised or since it is for research are there different requirements? 

While my desire to do research is new, it is strong and I am willing to work hard to feed both my scientific and social curiosity, I just really want to make the right decisions about my education if I can help it. 

Thank you!

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Well... 

 

You want to use these methods of yours to help people, so obviously it should be narrowed down to either clinical or counselling. You want to do a lot of research also it seems, and if that is in fact the case, you should probably pursue clinical because you will dealing with the more 'science-like' side of psychology. What is your UG GPA?

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18 hours ago, PsychedelicExplorer said:

Well... 

 

You want to use these methods of yours to help people, so obviously it should be narrowed down to either clinical or counselling. You want to do a lot of research also it seems, and if that is in fact the case, you should probably pursue clinical because you will dealing with the more 'science-like' side of psychology. What is your UG GPA?

GPA 3.1

GRE 
Verbal: 152
Quantitative: 145
Writing: 3.5

I have considered retaking the GRE, however these scores meet some of the program requirements that I have reviewed while other programs note they do not require GRE or similar test scores. 

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34 minutes ago, ClinicalHopeful said:

What programs have you reviewed?

Palo Alto University

Emporia University

Bradley University

Illinois Stat University (not accredited)

Those are just a few. I have looked through many others online. Some program requirements I meet, some I don't.
 

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Given your GPA, if you want to get into a psych PhD with funding, I would study for and retake the GRE if I were in your shoes. But that's because I wouldn't do a PhD without funding so I'd need to make sure I'm competitive for money and not just admission.

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So you're right that your interests fall into multiple categories and honestly I think you can take multiple paths and still reach the same place. Since you really want to work with brain data then cognitive, clinical neuropsych, or neuroscience would probably be the most straight forward path. A more research oriented counseling program could work but you'll have to comb through their class offerings and find a POI who explicitly does this work. If you enter a grad program to leads to some sort of licensure (clinical neuropsych, counseling, clinical social work, mental health counseling) then it'll probably also be easier to work with people on these skill sets (essentially taking on clients). If you follow the cognitive or neuroscience path then you won't be able to practice (unless you get a lcsw first or something) but you can consult to teach people about the practices you develop/adapt. But it sounds like you want to provide treatment rather than just train other clinicians in an intervention and for that you definitely need to be licensed or risk getting into a lot of trouble.

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Try a simple Google search with those key words you mentioned and see who in the field is researching these topics, and then, the programs in which they are involved in.

For example, the name that comes to mind when you speak of mindfulness, meditation, and looking at its relationship will cognitive neuroscience and the brain is Zindel Segal. He pioneered and founded MBCT (Minfulness-based Cognitive Therapy). I believe in recent years his clinical research has also delved into looking at the relationship of mindfulness and how it evokes activation within the brain. If his work is of interest, you may consider a clinical route OR a cognitive neuroscience route.

Hope this helps!

 

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