I had a meeting today after class with my Counseling professor about my grad school plans. I've been feeling a lot of confusion about what, exactly, the best route is for what I want. So many Counseling Master's degrees are different from one another, and have different specialties, and some are in Psychology departments, some are in Liberal Arts & Sciences departments, some are in Education departments.
So I reiterated exactly what I want (I just want to have my own little practice someday, with my own little office with a plaque on the door where I have clients that come and see me for average developmental and personality issues, like anxiety or depression. I'm not too interested in working with the seriously ill like schizophrenics or people with bi-polar disorder or whatever. As noble as that is, it's just not in me.)
After expressing my complete disinterest at this point in getting a PhD due to my complete and utter disinterest in research and science, she asked me if I'd ever considered a PsyD.
Well no, actually, I hadn't. I wasn't even sure what a PsyD was.
So she explained that it was very similar to a PhD in that it was a doctoral degree, and took about the same amount of time to attain (an average of 5 years), but instead of focusing so heavily on research and science, it focuses on clinical/counseling work. In other words, hands-on counseling training instead of working in a lab or spending all day in libraries. And you still get to be a doctor!
I have to say, the idea is extremely tempting. And as she said, simply getting a Master's is perfectly viable and legitimate for what I want to do, and there's no shame in it, but that having that "Doctor" in front of your name really does set you apart. And opens lots more doors, including professorial opportunities. Which, she added, can be very helpful in cushioning your income and skills a little bit while you practice, especially when you're starting out. Because just up and starting your own practice isn't as easy as people think it is.
She then went on to tell me that she truly believes I'll make a great therapist. I really put people at ease, she said, and I was open, and warm, and approachable. She added, "You're very real," and honest, and that makes people want to open up to me. She also said that there was not a single doubt in her mind that I was capable of doing excellent doctoral work, and that she would recommend me to anyone.
It was such an awesome thing for her to say, I was sort of flying all day. And I know she wouldn't say it if she didn't mean it. She's not one to blow smoke.
(Can I also just add that it feels so incredible to finally find that thing that really makes me tick. That thing that I feel confident about excelling in, that I have no problem seeing in my future, and that makes me feel secure and sure of myself, and inspires people to say things to me like what my professor said. People don't say that to people who haven't found what they were meant to do yet. It's like a huge load being lifted.)
So anyway. All of this has really got me thinking, and after spending months narrowing down grad school options, I've now begun all over again with a separate list of schools that offer PsyD programs (which are very few, I might add; most just offer PhD's). In fact, I spent about 2 hours this afternoon on Google looking at schools. With a new Excel spreadsheet open. The idea of 6(!) more years in school (including one more year at St. Eds) is a daunting prospect, but I think in the end it would pay off. And you start practicing your second year of graduate school at most places. And teaching. So, I've got some serious decisions to make. And fairly soon.
Also, I offically registered for the GRE today. I'm taking it on May 30th. Oy.