Career paths & prospects in field of therapy?

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texasdiver
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Career paths & prospects in field of therapy?

Post by texasdiver »

I have an 8th grade daughter who already thinks she wants to study psychology and become a therapist some day. In fact, she already knows that she wants to attend the UW in Seattle and follow that path.

This is totally outside of my area of expertise. And I'm just curious if there are any here who are close to that sort of profession who might have advice for youngsters looking to get into this sort of field. She is an extremely intuitive kid and spends time analyzing all of her friends and peers with much more insight than anyone her age deserves to have. She is a good student but I'm not sure she really has the interest in the hard sciences to pursue a medical school career and specialty in psychiatry. Psychology seems much more up her alley.

So what would people in the field advise to a bright young 13 year old who thinks she wants to pursue a career as a therapist? What kind of educational track and career path would you advise? Is this a growing field? shrinking? Are there subsets or specialities that are trending upwards and show more promise than others? I don't imagine it is a career path subject to be made obsolete by automation any time soon. But I really have no idea.
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Re: Career paths & prospects in field of therapy?

Post by Dottie57 »

texasdiver wrote: Thu Dec 05, 2019 2:30 pm I have an 8th grade daughter who already thinks she wants to study psychology and become a therapist some day. In fact, she already knows that she wants to attend the UW in Seattle and follow that path.

This is totally outside of my area of expertise. And I'm just curious if there are any here who are close to that sort of profession who might have advice for youngsters looking to get into this sort of field. She is an extremely intuitive kid and spends time analyzing all of her friends and peers with much more insight than anyone her age deserves to have. She is a good student but I'm not sure she really has the interest in the hard sciences to pursue a medical school career and specialty in psychiatry. Psychology seems much more up her alley.

So what would people in the field advise to a bright young 13 year old who thinks she wants to pursue a career as a therapist? What kind of educational track and career path would you advise? Is this a growing field? shrinking? Are there subsets or specialities that are trending upwards and show more promise than others? I don't imagine it is a career path subject to be made obsolete by automation any time soon. But I really have no idea.
She will need at least a masters if not Phd. I don’t think therapists make a lot so how will she pay for education.
It is a worthy job, but might be depressing.
oldfatguy
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Re: Career paths & prospects in field of therapy?

Post by oldfatguy »

There would be 3 major educational/credentialing pathways to explore, each with a variety of sub-categories, specialties, and work environments: Counselor, Social Worker, and Psychologist. The first 2 would require a master's degree to be licensed for doing mental health therapy, and the last would be a doctorate (PhD or PsyD).

Social Workers: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-s ... orkers.htm

Mental Health Counselors (lumped into a broader group): https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-s ... selors.htm

Psychologists: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-a ... ogists.htm

Therapy probably won't be made obsolete by technology, but definitely changing with teleheath and even AI.
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leeks
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Re: Career paths & prospects in field of therapy?

Post by leeks »

I know several therapists with the phd-type training who seem to have a good thing going. They are either self-employed in their own private practice or share an office with a few others. All are able to set their own schedules (work part time after having children if desired) and seem to make good incomes. Some take insurance-paid clients, others take self-pay clients only. Several worked in nonprofit settings after their education but eventually switched over to private practice and seem content with that arrangement.

But I would say your daughter is too young to worry about career planning too much. It's cool she has something she is interested in, but she doesn't need to decide an undergrad major yet, let alone what type of graduate training she might want. Encouraging that she continue to do her best in school and gifting her some psychology-related books is probably enough reinforcement of her interest at this age.
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Re: Career paths & prospects in field of therapy?

Post by texasdiver »

leeks wrote: Thu Dec 05, 2019 3:01 pm I know several therapists with the phd-type training who seem to have a good thing going. They are either self-employed in their own private practice or share an office with a few others. All are able to set their own schedules (work part time after having children if desired) and seem to make good incomes. Some take insurance-paid clients, others take self-pay clients only. Several worked in nonprofit settings after their education but eventually switched over to private practice and seem content with that arrangement.

But I would say your daughter is too young to worry about career planning too much. It's cool she has something she is interested in, but she doesn't need to decide an undergrad major yet, let alone what type of graduate training she might want. Encouraging that she continue to do her best in school and gifting her some psychology-related books is probably enough reinforcement of her interest at this age.
Oh, I agree. But knowing which career path she is interested in does inform us to some extent as to what kind of colleges we should be exploring in a few years, which comes very fast. I think she is more likely to be interested in a PhD therapist type career and training than something in social work which is a very tough and thankless career. So setting her up in an undergraduate institution that is well positioned to launch her into a good graduate PhD program does seem in order.
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Re: Career paths & prospects in field of therapy?

Post by oldfatguy »

texasdiver wrote: Thu Dec 05, 2019 3:18 pm
leeks wrote: Thu Dec 05, 2019 3:01 pm I know several therapists with the phd-type training who seem to have a good thing going. They are either self-employed in their own private practice or share an office with a few others. All are able to set their own schedules (work part time after having children if desired) and seem to make good incomes. Some take insurance-paid clients, others take self-pay clients only. Several worked in nonprofit settings after their education but eventually switched over to private practice and seem content with that arrangement.

But I would say your daughter is too young to worry about career planning too much. It's cool she has something she is interested in, but she doesn't need to decide an undergrad major yet, let alone what type of graduate training she might want. Encouraging that she continue to do her best in school and gifting her some psychology-related books is probably enough reinforcement of her interest at this age.
Oh, I agree. But knowing which career path she is interested in does inform us to some extent as to what kind of colleges we should be exploring in a few years, which comes very fast. I think she is more likely to be interested in a PhD therapist type career and training than something in social work which is a very tough and thankless career. So setting her up in an undergraduate institution that is well positioned to launch her into a good graduate PhD program does seem in order.
Just to be clear, a social worker who is a LCSW (licensed clinical social worker), a licensed counselor, and a psychologist can all be therapists. All of them can open a practice, take insurance payments, etc. ... but the psychologist will get paid more for the work. But becoming a psychologist is a lot more difficult. PhD programs in clinical/counseling psych are extremely competitive. Licensed counselors and LCSWs only need master's degrees.
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Re: Career paths & prospects in field of therapy?

Post by JAZZISCOOL »

Per Ziprecruiter (one of many career websites), the national average for a Psychologist is over 6 figures ($107k/year; Phd/PsyD level trailing). I'm sure there are more sources out there.

https://www.ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/P ... ist-Salary

On the demand side, based on what I read, there is a big national demand for therapists and many new online video or online therapy apps, etc., for mental health of all types.

Psychiatrists (which would require one to attend to medical school/MD) who can prescribe meds are in huge demand in my state. Many are cash-pay only and don't take insurance which means it is much more lucrative and fewer administrative headaches. Many psychologists have also gone to the cash-pay model if they have a strong client base and are in demand.

There is a great national need for RURAL mental health care based on what I have read. That is one reason tele-medicine is increasing to serve those needs.

LCSW and Master's Level therapists probably don't make as much, generally, but I think the demand will continue to grow on the clinical side.

There are also many psychologists who go into non-clinical specialized areas, e.g. organizational psychology (Adam Grant is one I've heard on podcasts; Univ of PA Prof), and many other areas of research. Scott Barry Kaufman (Columbia Prof) has a very interesting podcast with many interesting guests (iTunes, etc.).

https://scottbarrykaufman.com/podcast/

One website/magazine to check out has very interesting articles as well on many topics (clinical psych mostly):

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us

I do think there is a lot of career burnout in medicine overall and probably mental health even more so ("compassion fatigue"). That said, there is a lot of career burnout in many industries.

If you run your own practice, you would have more flexibility and autonomy IMO.

:happy
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Re: Career paths & prospects in field of therapy?

Post by Sandtrap »

Dottie57 wrote: Thu Dec 05, 2019 2:40 pm
texasdiver wrote: Thu Dec 05, 2019 2:30 pm I have an 8th grade daughter who already thinks she wants to study psychology and become a therapist some day. In fact, she already knows that she wants to attend the UW in Seattle and follow that path.

This is totally outside of my area of expertise. And I'm just curious if there are any here who are close to that sort of profession who might have advice for youngsters looking to get into this sort of field. She is an extremely intuitive kid and spends time analyzing all of her friends and peers with much more insight than anyone her age deserves to have. She is a good student but I'm not sure she really has the interest in the hard sciences to pursue a medical school career and specialty in psychiatry. Psychology seems much more up her alley.

So what would people in the field advise to a bright young 13 year old who thinks she wants to pursue a career as a therapist? What kind of educational track and career path would you advise? Is this a growing field? shrinking? Are there subsets or specialities that are trending upwards and show more promise than others? I don't imagine it is a career path subject to be made obsolete by automation any time soon. But I really have no idea.
She will need at least a masters if not Phd. I don’t think therapists make a lot so how will she pay for education.
It is a worthy job, but might be depressing.
+1
DIL has a Masters, also needed to have "x" hours of documented work in the field (not all companies or jobs do this) before qualifying for certification as a counselor. As stated, PhD is better. Field is competitive. Pay is not as high as other fields with commensurate education (ie: engineering, etc).
There is a also differentiation between clinical psychiatry vs counseling psychologist, something to look into as far as related fields.
There are a wide range of educations, degrees, and fields, for someone that is socially intuitive.
Consider testing for the MBTI as far as type and what fields might fit well for job/career satisfaction.

It is yet a very long path from 8th grade to career choices.

j :happy
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Re: Career paths & prospects in field of therapy?

Post by campy2010 »

My good friend just finished the professional clinical psychology licensing process. Here are the steps she went through. It is my understanding that the masters degree is becoming less accepted for professional licensing as more people do PhDs. My friend has $100k+ in student debt and works for a public school system making $60k/year and is hoping that the PSLF program pays off her loans. I obviously only know a bit about this second-hand but one would have to have a true calling to go down this path successfully. It seems like a long, expensive road.

-Undergrad in psych
-PhD in clinical psychology (with unpaid clinical rotations). Professional degree so you're paying full-freight
-1 year work experience/clinical fellowship/internship. Match program like physicians with an interview process. High probability of being placed far from home. Quick google search turns up post-grad internship jobs earning $14/hr, which is better than nothing.
-Professional exam and licensing process
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Re: Career paths & prospects in field of therapy?

Post by texasdiver »

Thanks guys.

Who knows where she will be but in the next few years it seems the most prudent course of action to support her when we start the college search would be to focus on colleges and universities in our region that have good psychology departments and good history of placing undergrads in PhD programs. It isn't a rare major so shouldn't be too hard to do. There are lots of options and it seems her current preferred school UW has a top psychology department for both undergrad and grad. But we have lots of time to figure things out.
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Re: Career paths & prospects in field of therapy?

Post by livesoft »

Did you ask your school psychologist why they ended up where they did?
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texasdiver
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Re: Career paths & prospects in field of therapy?

Post by texasdiver »

livesoft wrote: Fri Dec 06, 2019 5:01 pm Did you ask your school psychologist why they ended up where they did?
We haven't gotten deep into any of it. My wife is a physician and works with psychologists and we can find plenty for career advice. My wife actually doesn't want any of her daughters to go into medicine, which seems sort of a common attitude in the medical community. But she thinks that working as a therapist is a reasonable career goal.

I was more looking for macro-level advice on the future prospects of the field as a whole, rather than micro-level advice on how to get there. As in, is this something I want to encourage my daughter to pursue? If psychology was a dying field with minimal prospects for a bright young student then that would be good to know before encouraging her down that path.

It sounds kind of a middle of the road field. A quite competitive field with median pay and satisfaction but one that isn't going to vanish anytime soon due to automation and technology making it obsolete. Nor is it likely to be taken over by Indians and Chinese working in overseas sweat shops.
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Re: Career paths & prospects in field of therapy?

Post by stoptothink »

campy2010 wrote: Thu Dec 05, 2019 5:05 pm My good friend just finished the professional clinical psychology licensing process. Here are the steps she went through. It is my understanding that the masters degree is becoming less accepted for professional licensing as more people do PhDs. My friend has $100k+ in student debt and works for a public school system making $60k/year and is hoping that the PSLF program pays off her loans. I obviously only know a bit about this second-hand but one would have to have a true calling to go down this path successfully. It seems like a long, expensive road.

-Undergrad in psych
-PhD in clinical psychology (with unpaid clinical rotations). Professional degree so you're paying full-freight
-1 year work experience/clinical fellowship/internship. Match program like physicians with an interview process. High probability of being placed far from home. Quick google search turns up post-grad internship jobs earning $14/hr, which is better than nothing.
-Professional exam and licensing process
I have three friends (former colleagues) in the same position, they focus specifically on autism spectrum disorders (which is how I met them). 2 tried to open their own practice, but it wasn't financially viable so they went back to working with schools. Incredible amount of education and work experience required for about comparable compensation to a ~5th year public school teacher in our area. You better absolutely love what you do because it is in general one of the lowest compensating industries when taking into account the barriers to entry.
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Re: Career paths & prospects in field of therapy?

Post by scubadiver »

I think it's great that at such a young age your daughter has clear sense for the profession she wants to pursue. My understanding from the few individuals that I have known who work in the field is that it does not pay well. I mention that not as discouragement against pursuing such a career but as a basis for emphasizing the importance of minimizing educational related expenses to the extent possible.
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Re: Career paths & prospects in field of therapy?

Post by ram »

The BLS data showed $45 to 50 K/yr. Clinical psychologists working in the medical field with Phd's make twice as much. Lesser if you work as school councillor or social worker. Master's is probably enough for a social worker.
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Re: Career paths & prospects in field of therapy?

Post by Aku09 »

I have a friends wife who actually completed her doctorate in psychology about 3 years ago. I think she makes around 80k and has north of 200k in student loans. Had to do some traveling to clinical rotations that were a year or more each in areas. Personally for the income it isn’t worth the debt burden to me.

I know you said your wife is a physician and would steer her away from that path (understandibly). Possibly look at a psych nurse practitioner as well. After nursing school would be an additional 3 years and she could treat/diagnose as well. Would be a quicker return on investment than med school and probably pay better than a psychologist.
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Re: Career paths & prospects in field of therapy?

Post by BarbBrooklyn »

Being an LCSW is far from a depressing career if what you love is doing therapy and you get good training in it. I'm a recently retired school psychologist; assessment is far more interesting to me than counseling or therapy, but the folks I know who do talk therapy with skill are all well-trained social workers.

Becoming fluently bilingual is likely to be a very good way for a person who is looking to enter a clinical field to make themselves more employable. There are often loan forgiveness programs specifically for bilingual clinicians.

Majoring in Psychology is probably not necessary if she decides not to go the PhD or PsyD in psych route; there are a well-defined group of prerequisite courses for grad school that she can complete without doing a major. Encourage her to take lots of history, anthropology and maybe behavioral economics which will help her understand folks from backgrounds different from her own.
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Re: Career paths & prospects in field of therapy?

Post by warner25 »

texasdiver wrote: Fri Dec 06, 2019 5:25 pmMy wife actually doesn't want any of her daughters to go into medicine, which seems sort of a common attitude in the medical community.
I don't think I've heard of anyone recommending their own career path to their kids, whatever it is. Suggestion of any career path here on Bogleheads will be met with negativity, skepticism, etc. Something about seeing how sausage is made...
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Re: Career paths & prospects in field of therapy?

Post by darkhorse »

You should encourage her
She is choosing a career that has at minimum above average pay and if successful, you can run your own practice and make top dollars

In addition, and perhaps more importantly, she would learn skills that would allow her to take good care of her emotional health and cultivate balanced relationship with those around her.

It's a win win.
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Re: Career paths & prospects in field of therapy?

Post by ohai »

I've seen too many washed out PhDs to ever recommend that someone commit to this education-career path without the explicit goal of being a career academic. In addition to the input of people who have succeeded on the PhD track, you should get the opinions of people who have pursued PhDs, but have become disillusioned, as the career track they envisioned initially while in their early 20s does not reflect the reality 10 years later when they actually need to realize their ambition.
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Re: Career paths & prospects in field of therapy?

Post by texasdiver »

ohai wrote: Sun Dec 08, 2019 4:09 pm I've seen too many washed out PhDs to ever recommend that someone commit to this education-career path without the explicit goal of being a career academic. In addition to the input of people who have succeeded on the PhD track, you should get the opinions of people who have pursued PhDs, but have become disillusioned, as the career track they envisioned initially while in their early 20s does not reflect the reality 10 years later when they actually need to realize their ambition.
I think a professional PhD that is part of the career path for professional therapists is markedly different than an academic PhD in something like history where the only career path is in academia. At least that's my understanding. I do agree though, I would not encourage my kids to pursue academic PhD careers these days.

But there are a LOT of PhDs or doctorates in professional fields that are quite different than the academic path and really more a form of leverage into higher level professional jobs. A lot of high level administrators in public education and nursing have doctorates in their fields. For example, school principals and superintendents, heads of nursing at large hospitals, that sort of thing.
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