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Certification in Clinical or Counseling Psychology Essay

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Updated: May 12th, 2021

For the majority of the students who acquire a Master’s degree in Psychology, the further career path has two main directions. They either continue to study in order to obtain their doctorate or start to pursue the careers of general psychotherapists.

An individual with a Ph.D. in Psychology may pursue both counseling and clinical psychology. The education one acquires studying for a Ph.D. involves theoretical and practical knowledge of various types of psychotherapy, psychological assessment, ethics, and diagnostics (Grohol, 2015). One of the primary tasks of the course is preparing and defending a doctorate dissertation. The overall time needed to obtain a Ph.D. comprises about six or seven years. During the course, the research skills of the candidates are emphasized and exercised. It is rather common for individuals who have a doctorate degree to continue their career in the research or academic sphere. There is a difference between the professionals who have a Ph.D. in counseling and their peers with a doctorate degree in clinical psychology. Namely, the professionals working in the field of clinical psychology mainly specialize in the severe issues of mental health such as depressions, anxieties, or schizophrenia; at the same time, the counseling psychologists have everyday life problems as their main focus (relationship, career, or academic issues, for example) (Grohol, 2015).

When it comes to the therapists and specialists with a license but without a doctorate degree, they can use their Master’s degrees as the terminal bases for the acquisition of licenses and begin to practice counseling. Compared to the therapists with the Ph.D., the professionals of Master’s level tend to focus on the techniques of psychotherapy whereas their theoretical and practical knowledge of such spheres as research and psychological and clinical assessment (Grohol, 2015). In other words, the practitioners of Master’s level who decide not to pursue a doctorate degree become psychotherapists of a general specialty.

Discussing which degree is more suitable for a professional to begin practicing substance abuse counseling, it is important to mention that in the United States, a counselor is to undertake two examinations –state and federal, which should not be confused (Counselor License, 2015). Besides, the requirements of various states may differ. All in all, both Master’s and Ph.D. are sufficient degrees for one to start practicing substance abuse counseling. For the specialists of either level, the specialization or permission to specialize in substance abuse is necessary. Besides, some of the licensing exams may be comprised of multiple stages. Moreover, the national credentialing process requires the practitioner to obtain a certain number of practice hours under supervision (two years after obtaining a Master’s degree and three years in total with a frequency of at least twenty hours a week) in order to be allowed to take the examination of a national level and become Master Addictions Counselor or MAC (Counselor License, 2015).

Choosing which path to undertake pursuing a career in substance abuse counseling, I would prefer to gain a Master’s degree and then focus on obtaining the required number of supervised practice hours required for the examination and the acquisition of MAC. In my opinion, the doctorate level is absolutely great when it comes to career opportunities in research or clinical psychology. However, a Master’s degree that initially specializes in addictions therapy is sufficient for a career in substance abuse counseling and an overall, shorter path towards higher levels of professionalism. As mentioned above, the acquisition of a Master Addictions Counselor requires many hours of active counseling practice help under professional supervision, and that is why I believe that obtaining a Master’s degree and getting into practice right away is a shorter way for a professional who has already decided which specialty to focus on.

The primary drawback of obtaining just a certificate and starting to practice immediately is the limitation. In other words, the professional with a Master’s degree who decided not to gain a Ph.D. is limited to practice in general therapy. The main limitations include the lack of deeper knowledge of wider fields of theory and practice, psychological and clinical assessment. All in all, a professional with a Master’s degree is to follow the chosen path and work in a narrower field than the practitioners with a Ph.D. One could say that this choice allows fewer career opportunities.

The main drawback of pursuing a doctorate degree is the time required for one to complete the education and obtain it. To be more precise, the acquisition of a Ph.D. takes between six and seven years of active studying. The academic aspect of the program would prevent one from gaining many hours of counseling practice and thus slow down their practical side of the professional development. Ph.D. opens multiple doors for a professional in terms of career opportunities and available spheres for self-actualization and career development. However, there has to be a practical necessity in the acquisition of a doctorate degree. Otherwise, the years spent in the program could turn out a major slowdown on one’s professional path resulting in a diploma that is not used in a practical manner.

Reference

Counselor License. (2015). What are addiction counselors? Web.

Grohol, J. M. (2015). Web.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Certification in Clinical or Counseling Psychology." May 12, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/certification-in-clinical-or-counseling-psychology/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Certification in Clinical or Counseling Psychology'. 12 May.

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