So, I Want to be a Therapist in CA, Part II: The Credentials

Welcome to the chair.

In the previous installment, I discussed the difference between master’s-level and doctoral-level credentialing in California.

Here, I’ll discuss the kinds of non-school-based credentials you might seek and why (or why not), as well as the licensing boards for each.

PhD In Clinical Psychology (CA Board of Psychology)

A PhD tends to be more academic and research-oriented than a PsyD. Students receive intensive training in psych research and assessment. After graduate school, individuals often seek work in hospitals, research organizations, or other arenas where their specialized skills will be put to good use.

Despite the strong academic focus, persons in clinical PhD programs are also expected to gain clinical competency, which means that they complete coursework and do internships (totalling about 3000 hours) that focus on working directly with clients.

PhD students are required to complete a dissertation, participate in an approved internship, and pass a credentialing exam before becoming licensed.

Post-credential, PhDs can work in private practice, as well as agencies, universities, and other research settings.

PsyD in Clinical Psychology (CA Board of Psychology)

PsyD programs are often similar in content and scope to their PhD counterparts. The difference? PsyD programs feature a stronger focus on preparing students to become clinicians instead of research. Although research methodology and assessment are essential elements of a PsyD curriculum, the primary focus is on building clinical knowledge, both theoretical and practical.

Like their PhD counterparts, PsyD students engage in extensive clinical training and supervision. They, too, must complete a dissertation and sit for a licensing exam. Although some PhD students obtain grants and tuition wavers, such is rare for PsyD students. Both tend to take 4-5 years from the first class through completion of the dissertation.

After credentialing, PsyDs work in private practice, agencies, hospitals, academia, and more. Continue reading

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