PsychologistThis is a non-medical doctor (PhD) whose specialization is human mind and behavior. The main duty of a psychologist is to assist you overcome fear, anxiety, relate better with people, etc. Psychology is a very vast field with diverse specializations, theoretical inclinations and different clientele. Here is a simplified step by step description of how to become a psychologist.
- Go to school- because of the importance of mental health, psychologists are required to be highly trained. They must also be licensed upon verification of their training. You need to earn a bachelor degree in psychology. Some of the areas you expect to cover include experimental and developmental psychology, statistics and the basic principles of psychology. There are numerous colleges offering these programs.
- Look for experience- supervised experience is very crucial for licensing purposes. Furthermore, psychology is an extremely practical discipline. Volunteering and internship will provide you with necessary supervised exposure hours while you still learn. Volunteer in a mental health clinic, engage with handicapped children, assist your professor with research, etc.
- Research on Graduate Programs- there are different specialties that will be the basis of your Masters studies. Find an institution or university that has a good reputation in your area of interest. It helps you prepare early for your Masters program.
- Identify your degree and specialty- this means choosing the best field for you. It could be clinical or counseling psychology. Learn more about industrial organization and the job opportunities available. Depending on your findings, you will identify whether you need an MA, MSc, PsyD or PhD. Check licensing requirements from regulator websites.
- Take your doctorate in psychology- a doctorate is the minimum requirement for most fields in psychology. Most schools have placed GRE requirement at 1200 points or more. You also need GPA of 3.3 and above. You must have worked as a volunteer or in paid internship related to your field. It will take several years to complete the doctorate.
- Internship- practical experience is crucial in psychology. As such, internship is mandatory before you get any license. Internship also helps you get a feel of different fields for career choice purposes. The approval of APA for the internship is required considering the sensitivity of mental health. The internship could be two years or so.
- Get a license- apply to be a psychologist by presenting your papers and credentials for verification. It is impossible to practice without this license despite your academic qualification.
CounselorCounseling is also a broad discipline with numerous specializations. There is clinical counseling which involves health issues and other forms like career counseling that is about academic and work. Their requirements are also different especially in regards to experience hours. However, all counselors must have a Masters degree to get a license. Some of the common counseling specialties include marriage and family therapy, addiction and school counseling. Here is a career path you can follow to become a counselor. Basic personal qualities
- You need to relate easily with people of all caliber without judging and with the aim of providing a solution
- You need an empathetic, warm and open heart that can gain the trust of people and make them feel comfortable
- You need to be sensitive tolerant and patient as well as exercise a lot of impartiality
- Discreet and trustworthy with high levels of ethics and personal integrity
- An incredible sense of self awareness that enables you to understand your limits and constantly examine your values and thoughts
Counseling or Psychology?The decision will depend on your envisaged career path. Based on personal traits and compatibility with the working environment, choose the most comfortable career path. Consult a career specialist to help you analyze your options based on available opportunities.
TJ is a managing partner of USA-LEADS. USA-LEADS creates comprehensive and informative websites for individuals looking for educational information about the requirements and certifications needed in a given field. He has been in the digital space since 2009 and quickly went from having ZERO knowledge of all things internet to becoming the Director of Web Services at a custom software development company. Prior to entering the space he taught children with learning differences for 9 years.