How To Become a Psychologist in the U.S

How To Become a Psychologist in the U.S.

Ever wonder who’d combat our mental disorders if there’ll be no psychologists? This brings us to understand this vast field of deep understanding and how to become a psychologist to the fore. Irrespective of age, gender, or any other factor, almost all Americans suffer from depression, mental health, phobias, e.t.c. Amid the unavoidable circumstances, run for a good job, broken relationships, and vows, mental health is deploying.

According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention data:-

25% of U.S adults have a mental illness in any given year, and around 50% of them develop one during their lifetime.

In such a mental-havoc, a human tends to develop depression and anxiety to a state that suicidal thoughts trespass their mind for sure. The only hope in such a mental disbalance is the presence of a psychologist who looks into the root of disturbance and helps relieve the pain. So, if you too feel like giving an ear to the mental arrest that a person goes through, the job of a psychologist can help you with it. 

You can set forth  in your career as a pscyhologist from counseling school kids.

Read our blog to know how:-

How to Become a School Psychologist 

Who is a Psychologist?

Some illnesses and injuries remain hidden to another person except to the one who is suffering from it. The reason being this illness and injury is not to the body but the mind. Hence only a psychologist can help someone with a mental problem. They analyze our feelings, our behavior, our action, and reactions in our day to day lives, and help us come out of these mental problems.

Human behavior has always astonished psychologist for years. A human’s insight, individuality, knowledge, behavior, and reaction to situations show certain things. It portrays how a man builds his relationships with other living things based on these developments.

There are various types of psychology, but we would only be focusing on three, which are:-

Forensic Psychology, Children Psychology, and Clinical Psychology

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What is Forensic Psychology and What Do They Do?

First and the foremost thing is that you do not mistake forensic psychology with forensic science. Forensic psychology is the main source of criminal justice you see today, and it is the link between psychology and the law. Whereas, the forensic science one involves investigating and drawing a conclusion based on a crime scene.

Recently this field has been drawing a lot of attention from young prospective psychologist students. The reason for this sudden increase in interest amongst youngsters is because of the television serials, and books on murder. They tell them how a forensic psychologist helps bring justice to a crime victim by studying every move of a criminal’s mind.

Let me give you an example of how forensic psychology connects clinical psychology and the law.

Imagine many crimes were being committed by a criminal who was finally caught and brought to court for justice. The jury and the judge get confused and fail to comprehend why this criminal was committing these crimes and what resulted in him to choose this path. This is when a forensic psychologist will come in the picture to study the criminal’s mind and give his/her testimony that he is insane. So now the judge and jury will pass the verdict that the criminal is insane and needs to visit a clinical psychologist for treatment. Now the clinical psychologist will take over from here and ensure that the criminal gets studied and treated.

So, did you understand the difference? One played an important role by helping the law come to a verdict, and the other is helping the law by treating the criminal.

How to Become a Forensic Psychologist

Becoming a forensic psychologist is very challenging and a busy career choice. But, to become a forensic psychologist, you will need to finish twelve years of education (grade 1 to high school). After that, get into a bachelors degree in psychology. Students get the advice to do a double major in psychology and criminology, which will take about four to five years to complete. Make sure the program that you seek admission to has accreditation by the American Psychology Association (APA).

After graduating from a double major, you will have to apply for a master’s degree in clinical psychology, which would take two years to complete. If you like, you can also pursue a doctorate in psychology after that, which will take four to six years to complete.

If you stop at a master’s degree, you will not be able to self-practice, but under the supervision of a doctorate-level forensic psychologist.

After the completion of a master’s degree or a doctorate, you can add value to these qualifications by doing a two to the three-year internship. Gaining experience under a licensed forensic psychologist will give you all the skills that you’d need in your career.

After the above education and internship, you need to pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). This test is a pre-requisite to begin practicing as a forensic psychologist.

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What is a Child Psychology and How Do They Help a Child?

The term child psychology relates to the study of the mental and social development of children. A child psychologist treats an abnormal child, who suffers from anxiety, mood swings, and mental disorders, e.t.c. A child psychologist’s main focus is to help children of all ages by preventing, diagnosing, and treating development, social and emotional issues.

As a child psychologist, you can work in institutions dedicated to child help who have developmental or behavioral issues. Furthermore, you can also help children dealing with family issues such as parent filing for divorce or separation. Or helping a child cope with the fact that she/he would be staying with a parent they aren’t close to as custody. And children who are unable to adjust to a new family member (step mum, stepdad and stepbrothers, and sisters) in their lives.

How to Become a Child Psychologist

A prospective child psychologist needs to comprehend what exactly their career involves. You will not be working like a typical psychiatrist or a physician who prescribes medication to their ill patients. But, working in a psychologist’s shoes will enable you to help children deal with intricate issues. Also, you’d help them adjust to medications prescribed by a doctor after you requested them for help.

There is no easier route to becoming a child psychologist than doing a four-year bachelor’s degree in psychology. After that, you need to pick up doing a master’s degree in clinical psychology. Some child psychologists choose to do a doctorate immediately after they graduate from their U.G. program. But, a doctorate can take five to six years to complete. Plus, to get into a doctorate, you will need a year’s internship under the guidance of a licensed child psychologist.

The reason why everyone should choose a PhD degree in psychology instead of a master’s degree is that you can, later on, practice on your own. Also, you can teach, or you can do research work and help another psychologist to build a concrete solution based on your research.

Remember three important things before you embark on this journey:

  • The psychology programs you choose should be an APA (American Psychology Association) accredited.
  • Second, after the undergraduate program, you need a good GRE (Graduate Record Examination) score to get into a graduate school.
  • Third, get your license by sitting for the EPPP (Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology) exam. Then, you’ll become eligible to practice as a child psychologist.

What is Clinical Psychology and What Do They Do?

Clinical psychology is the study of human behavior and the human mind to help those with emotional and mental problems.

A clinical psychologist’s job is to identify the route cause and symptoms of the mental disorder in a patient. To do so, they must take the help of documented material, books, manuals, journals, and use their knowledge and expertise on the related subject. As a result, they will chalk out a plan on how to fix the problem in a patient.

On finding the mental problem, a clinical psychologist will hold counseling sessions. You can communicate the factors causing stress, body abuse if any, and unpleasant family issues. These counseling sessions take place b/w psychologist, and a patient is to build a good personal, social, and professional relationship.

As a psychologist is building a comfortable zone, they are also building a strategy on how to approach the problem to fix it. Furthermore, they have to ensure that the patient is cooperating and take therapy sessions. Since the patient needs to cooperate to see better results, it is beneficial to open up.

They can help anyone and everyone who has a problem; ranging from molestation, physical abuse, e.t.c. They need to talk to a professional for a problem; they can’t seem to handle on themselves.

Clinical psychologists work in hospitals along with side physicians and psychiatrists. They also work in other areas such as universities and educational institutions—the majority (40%) of the practice on their own.

How to Become a Clinical Psychologist

Only if you have an interest in psychology should you get into this field? Since in psychology, you have many degrees to go through to finally get a clinical psychologist title?

To become a clinical psychologist, you must take a four-year bachelor’s degree in psychology and two years of master’s degree. The colleges you choose must have an association with the APA (American Psychology Association).

Doing a master’s degree will enable you to work as an assistant to a licensed psychologist. Still, if you want to practice as a clinical psychologist on your own, then a doctorate is a must, and it will take five to six years to complete. Yet, it is not necessary that you first need to finish your master’s degree to get into a doctorate. After your bachelor’s degree, you can do a one-year internship under a licensed psychologist and then get into a doctorate.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Psychologist?

The time taken to become a psychologist depends on you and your speciality. But, the least qualification you need is a bachelor’s degree in psychology, which takes four years to complete. In case you opt for a double major like psychology and criminology, then five years to complete your bachelor’s with a double major.

Now to practice, you will either need a master’s degree, which will take two years to complete or a doctorate which will take seven years to complete. So, you got to decide what is best for you.

Salaries of psychologists:

  • A forensic psychologist’s salary ranges from $68,000 to $120,000 avg per year, which depends on where and under whom they are practicing.
  • A child psychologist’s salary is anywhere between $64,150 to $115,000 avg per year.
  • A clinical psychologist’s salary ranges from $55,000 to $90,000 avg per year.

So finally how many years of school to become a psychologist?

Giving a definite and clear answer to this question is difficult, as in many states, the rules to practice as a psychologist are different. Plus, every institution or organization has its selection criteria for hiring a psychologist. Still, you will need 7-13 years of education to be in a comfortable spot to work in any speciality of your choice, and if you wish, you can also work.

It’s always a good idea to check with your state rules on practising as a psychologist. Or better check with a practising psychologist who’ll provide you with accurate information.

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