Preparing for Your Career in Clinical Psychology
The Professional School of Psychology's master's-level degree that leads to becoming a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist will take most students about two years to complete. At the end of your educational phase, you will sit for the PSP Master's Degree Comprehensive Examination.
The PSP doctoral-level degree that leads to becoming a licensed psychologist will take most students closer to three years to complete. At the end of your educational phase, you will sit for the PSP Doctoral Comprehensive Examination and be authorized to begin your dissertation. Dissertations are the equivalent of your first book – typically anywhere from 100 to 1000 pages. Many students tremendously enjoy the class phase of their education, dread but deal with the comprehensive examination stage, and have a real problem with the dissertation phase. Are you a person who has "found your voice?" Do you have a desire to add something to the body of work that has been done by clinical doctoral candidates in years past?
If your primary interest is being a psychotherapist, becoming a Marriage and Family Therapist may be the best and most direct route for you to pursue. With the advent of "managed care," many insurance providers do not pay for multi-test psychological evaluations, as valuable as they are for teasing out what is really going on with a patient. On the other hand, a licensed psychologist can typically command a higher per visit fee structure, and is more highly trained in the practice of clinical psychology. Within a mental health organization, the psychologist would typically be placed in a higher level administrative position, commensurate with the higher and deeper level of education.
Even though the licensing boards are separate, both the Marriage and Family Therapist-bound student and the psychologist-bound student must complete three thousand hours of supervised professional experience before being allowed to sit for the state licensing examinations. In truth, it is easier to obtain the necessary supervision if you are Marriage and Family Therapist-bound. In addition, it is most difficult to find a paid internship. Further, both state licensing boards expect that a person will complete the three thousand hours within a limited number of years. Thus, while being a PSP student on weekend days and working a full-time job during the weekdays is a real draw to the PSP program, students have to consider how they will first find, and then build into their post-educational schedule, the time to accumulate supervised clinical hours for which you may not receive any compensation.