What Is Counseling Psychology?

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1 What Is Counseling Psychology? A Brief Description of the Discipline and Comparison to Other Psychology Professions Student Affiliates of Seventeen (SAS) University at Albany April, 2011

2 In This Presentation, You Will Learn more about counseling psychology Develop an understanding of the differences and similarities between counseling psychology and other psychology disciplines (especially clinical psychology) Gain information to help you make informed decisions regarding your career path

3 Psychology Is Very Broad There are many different subfields of psychology: Clinical Psychology, Counseling Psychology, Forensic Psychology, Sports Psychology, Health Psychology, Industrial/Organizational Psychology, School Psychology Social Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Experimental Psychology Neuropsychology the list goes on and on Additionally, the type of degree earned can differ: Ph.D., Ed.D., Psy.D., M.S., M.A.

4 Applied Psychology Counseling Psychology is considered to be an applied subfield of psychology Applied Psychology Focuses on the research and application of psychological knowledge to solve practical problems e.g., I/O Psychology, community psychology, school psychology, clinical psychology, counseling psychology Basic Psychology Branches of psychology that tend to be less applied and focus more on fundamental research e.g., social psychology, developmental psychology

5 Counseling Psychology Is One Specialty of Psychology According to the website of the Society of Counseling Psychology, Counseling psychology as a psychological specialty facilitates personal and interpersonal functioning across the life span with a focus on emotional, social, vocational, educational, health-related, developmental, and organizational concerns (www.div17.org). Counseling psychology is a broad and diverse discipline Can lead to many different careers

6 Scientist-Practitioner Model Counseling psychologists are usually trained to be scientists as well as professional practitioners Science and practice are integrated Learn how to understand and conduct scientific research Learn how to conduct therapy Doctoral level degree is required to be a counseling psychologist Source: Gelso & Fretz, 2001

7 Typical Requirements to Become a Counseling Psychologist Two Methods of Entry to a Doctoral Program: Post Bachelor s Degree Frequently in psychology, but may be in another subject Post Master s Degree Credits may transfer to a doctoral program Graduate School Full-time study in a doctoral program At least 5-6 years post bachelor s, 4-5 years post Master s Some programs accept students with a Master s degree only, while other programs accept Bachelor s and Master s students Length of time to graduate depends on the program, the degree already held by the student, etc.

8 Typical Components of Doctoral Programs in Counseling Psychology Class-work counseling theories, research and statistics, assessment, etc. Practica clinical practice (e.g., seeing clients, performing assessments, facilitating groups) Comprehensive exams (a.k.a. doctoral qualifying exams) completed when the majority of courses are finished Internship one complete calendar year of fulltime clinical work, typically completed at the end of the program Dissertation an independent research study that is needed to complete the Ph.D.

9 Typical Requirements to Become a Counseling Psychologist Post-doc one-year of supervised postdoctoral practice is usually required to become a licensed psychologist Can provide more training in a particular area of research or practice after graduation as well There has been a movement toward eliminating the requirement of post-doctoral training in order to be licensed as psychologist Model is not yet adopted in all 50 states, though Licensure differs per each state; at minimum passing a nationally administered exam is required to be a practicing psychologist

10 What Do Counseling Psychologists Do? Counseling psychologists participate in a wide range of activities (www.div17.org): Psychotherapeutic and Counseling Practice Teaching Research Career Development Testing, Assessment, and Evaluation Supervision Consultation Administrative Activities

11 What Do Counseling Psychologists Do? The majority of counseling psychologists have described their primary role as either a clinical practitioner (working with clients) or an academician (faculty member at a college or university) (Watkins et al., 1986). However, many counseling psychologists participate in a large number of the previously listed activities.

12 Where Do Counseling Psychologists Typically Work? Setting % College or University (Faculty Member) 35.2 Independent Practice 20.1 College or University Counseling Center 17.2 Hospital 7.4 Clinic 4.4 Human Services (nursing home, rehab facility, etc.) 4.2 Government (military, government, criminal justice system) 2.1 School/Education Setting 2.1 Medical School 1.7 Business and Industry 0.9 Other 4.5 Source: Gelso & Fretz, 2001 (Based on the 1995 APA Directory Survey)

13 Counseling Psychology Trends May be likely to work with clients who are closer to the normal range of functioning This is not always the case, as many counseling psychologists work with clients with more severe psychopathology Focus on strengths instead of a focus on psychopathology only May focus on taking clients past normal functioning to an optimal level of functioning Sources: Gelso & Fretz, 2001, & Society of Counseling Psychology Website

14 Counseling Psychology Trends Focus on career-related issues Vocational choice and development are often studied Often work with clients who have problems in the career realm Place an emphasis on multicultural research, practice, and training The role of culture in therapy and in society is explored Sources: Gelso & Fretz, 2001, & Society of Counseling Psychology Website

15 Counseling Psychology vs. Related Disciplines Clinical Psychology There is much overlap between clinical and counseling psychology (this will be discussed further in a moment) More emphasis on psychopathology in clinical psychology Community Psychology Focuses on person-environment interactions Moves beyond the individual and examines community settings Not likely to involve direct counseling / therapy Source: Gelso & Fretz, 2001

16 Counseling Psychology vs. Related Disciplines School Psychology Primarily work with children in schools Much time is spent on assessment (e.g., testing for ADHD) Industrial/Organizational Psychology (I/O Psychology) The study of behavior in work settings Has the goal of helping an organization become more effective Client is a company or organization, not an individual Source: Gelso & Fretz, 2001

17 Counseling Psychology vs. Related Disciplines Psychiatric Social Work 2 year Masters degree (MSW) Conduct counseling and psychotherapy Mental Health Counseling Master s Degree Provide counseling and psychotherapy More limited career options than with a doctoral degree Can be licensed as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) or similar Licensure is available in all states. Exact title may vary slightly. Source: Gelso & Fretz, 2001

18 Counseling Psychology vs. Related Disciplines Psychiatrist Medical doctor Much time is spent monitoring symptoms and prescribing medication Conduct counseling and therapy Often not as extensively trained in psychotherapy Many psychiatrists no longer provide psychotherapy and instead focus exclusively on medication management Source: Gelso & Fretz, 2001

19 Overview: Counseling Psychology vs. Clinical Psychology Clinical psychology is most similar to counseling psychology, and so the two will be compared/contrasted in detail here Most of the differences between counseling psychology and clinical psychology are based on the historical emphases in each field Traditionally, counseling psychology has taken a more whole-person approach (e.g., vocational work, strengthsbased, developmental, and contextual focus), whereas clinical psychology has taken more of a psychopathology approach (e.g., focus on diagnosis and abnormal functioning). However, although differences still exist between clinical and counseling psychologists, they have become more similar, and psychologists from both fields work in mostly the same settings

20 Clinical Psychology vs. Counseling Psychology The following information comparing clinical and counseling psychology is derived mostly from the following source: Norcross, J. C. (2000). Clinical psychology vs. counseling psychology: What s the diff? Eye on Psi Chi, 5(1), As we tease out the differences, keep in mind that Clinical and Counseling Psychology are very similar overall! In reality, there are many more similarities than differences between the two fields. Lead to similar job opportunities Both require a doctoral level degree

21 Clinical Psychology vs. Counseling Psychology Size There are more clinical psychology programs than counseling psychology programs Approximately three times as many clinical psychology programs More Clinical Psychology graduates each year than Counseling Psychology graduates Location Clinical Psychology: Department of Psychology Counseling Psychology: Usually Department of Education Also can be in Department of Psychology, Arts and Sciences. and others

22 Clinical Psychology vs. Counseling Psychology Theoretical Orientations Percentages are the same for most theoretical orientations, with a few exceptions: Clinical Psychology Slightly more psychoanalytical and behavioral orientations Counseling Psychology Slightly more humanistic/client-centered orientations

23 Clinical Psychology vs. Counseling Psychology Professional Activities Clinical Psychology In some cases, focuses more on clients with more severe psychopathology Counseling Psychology In some cases, focuses more on clients with less severe psychopathology More vocational assessment e.g., help with career decision-making, focus on managing work-related problems

24 Clinical Psychology vs. Counseling Psychology Employment Settings Similar overall, with a few differences Clinical Psychology More often employed in hospital settings Counseling Psychology More often employed in University Counseling Centers More diverse work settings than any other field However, it is important to keep in mind that you can work in virtually the same settings with either degree

25 Clinical Psychology vs. Counseling Psychology Research Areas According to Norcross (2000), for all programs (clinical and counseling combined), the most frequently listed areas of faculty research, in descending order, were: 1. Behavioral medicine/health psychology 2. Minority/cross-cultural psychology 3. Psychotherapy process and outcome 4. Family therapy/research 5. Child clinical/pediatric psychology 6. Neuropsychology 7. Mood disorders 8. Anxiety disorders 9. Eating disorders 10. Assessment

26 Clinical Psychology vs. Counseling Psychology Research Areas: Largest differences occurred in minority/cross-cultural psychology and vocational assessment: 69% and 62% of counseling psychology programs listed these, respectively, as areas of faculty research, compared to 32% and 1% of the clinical programs

27 Clinical Psychology vs. Counseling Psychology Counseling psychology programs more frequently provide research training and mentorship in: career processes and vocational assessment human diversity e.g., gender differences, sexual orientation, cultural differences professional issues e.g., ethics, professional training, supervision

28 Clinical Psychology vs. Counseling Psychology Clinical Psychology programs more frequently provide research training and mentorship in: psychopathological populations e.g., attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, affective disorders, chronic mental illness, personality disorders, etc. hospital/medical settings e.g., neuropsychology, pain management

29 Clinical Psychology vs. Counseling Psychology Admissions GRE scores: similar overall with a few differences favoring the clinical programs (on average, slightly higher GRE scores may be needed for clinical programs) GPA needed for admission is similar across clinical and counseling doctoral programs Clinical programs receive more applications (270 vs. 130) but acceptance rates are the same

30 Clinical Psychology vs. Counseling Psychology Admissions (cont.) In both programs two thirds accepted are women Ethnic minorities: Counseling - 25% vs. Clinical 18% For both programs, approximately two thirds of applicants accepted are baccalaureate and one third are masters level Please bear in mind that there are some programs that only accept students with a master s degree, though!

31 Clinical Psychology vs. Counseling Psychology Both Division 12 (Clinical Psychology) and Division 17 (Counseling Psychology) of APA have specific sections for specific interest areas within each division: List and summary of Division 12 sections List and summary of Division 17 sections

32 In Conclusion Counseling psychology is a very broad degree that can lead to employment in many different settings. forensics, managerial consultation, private practice, private and public hospitals, VA centers, military, college counseling centers, community mental health centers, academic-teaching positions, administration, residential treatment facilities, neuropsychological settings, research oriented positions, etc. Although this PowerPoint may be a good starting point, you will probably need to learn more in order to determine if earning a degree in counseling psychology is the best fit for you.

33 For More Information On Counseling Psychology Student Affiliates of Seventeen (SAS) Website: You can use the SAS message board to communicate with other students who are or may be interested in counseling psychology. Division of Counseling Psychology website Look for resources under the Student subheading. List of APA Accredited Counseling Psychology Programs: cred-counseling.aspx

34 For More Information On Counseling Psychology Find counseling psychologists (and other mental health professionals) and talk with them For example, you could talk with a few counseling psychologists and a few clinical psychologists to get more information on the similarities and differences between the two fields Consult the resources listed on the following references pages

35 References and Additional Resources: Fitzgerald, L. F., & Osipow, S. H. (1986). An occupational analysis of counseling psychology: How special is the specialty? American Psychologist, 41, Gelso, C., & Fretz, B. (2001). Counseling psychology (2 nd ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. Norcross, J. C., Sayette, M. A., Mayne, T. J., Karg, R. S., & Turkson, M. A. (1998). Selecting a doctoral program in professional psychology: Some comparisons among PhD counseling, PhD clinical, and PsyD clinical psychology programs. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 29,

36 References and Additional Resources: Norcross, J. C. (2000). Clinical psychology vs. counseling psychology: What s the diff? Eye on Psi Chi, 5(1), Society of Counseling Psychology (2010). Society of counseling psychology, division 17. Retrieved from Watkins, C. E. (1983). Counseling psychology versus clinical psychology: Further explorations on a theme or once more around the "identity maypole with gusto. The Counseling Psychologist, 11,

37 References and Additional Resources: Watkins, C. E., Lopez, F. G., Campbell, V. L., & Himmell, C. D. (1986). Counseling psychology and clinical psychology: Some preliminary comparative data. American Psychologist, 41, Watkins, C. E., Lopez, F. G., Campbell, V. L., & Himmel, C. D. (1986). Contemporary counseling psychology: Results of a national survey. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 33,

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