Question by xyzl: Majoring in clinical and developmental/child psychology?
Should I major in clinical or developmental/child psychology?
Any tips on majoring in psychology?
Answer by Jan
I decided to major in Psychology my first quarter freshman year. It was the first class I took, and fell in love instantly. I went through my four years, and graduated with my BA in psychology. It may be different at your school, but my university only offered one Psychology Bachelors degree – a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. You don’t specialize in one field until you get to a Master’s level. Maybe that’s where you are right now, so forgive me for stating the obvious. If you are working on your bachelors, that’s 60 Psych credits, and however many basic requirement credits. They also offered a 45 credit major, usually for people who double majored, but to me that seemed like cheating yourself. Why take 9 classes when you could take 12? Anyhow, for me there were basic psych classes that you were required to take and their credits:
Psy 101 – Intro to psych (5)
Psy 300 – Research methods (5)
Psy 301 – Learning (5)
Psy 362 – Intro to Statistics (4)
Psy 363 – Intermediate Statistics (4)
Psy 461 – History and systems of Psych. (5)
Then there were required categories, and you had several classes to choose from within each category: The clusters were:
1.Social, tests and measurements, industrial and organizational psych
2.developmental psych, psych of adolescence, adult development and aging
3.Sensation and perception, cognitive, thought and language, physiological
4.Clinical, counseling and community, abnormal psychology, theories of personality
These were all 3-5 credit classes.
And then depending on whether you took the 45 or 60 credit major, you would have to take some electives to make up the rest of your credits (0-2 for 45, and 14-17 for 60). There were MANY options for this.
So… once you decide what classes to take from each cluster and which electives, this gives you a foundation for what direction you want to take in grad school. As long as you get all of your credits and you get them in the right place (basic requirements, required psychology, one from each cluster, and electives), you’ll graduate with your BA in Psychology.
You can take counseling classes, but you can’t “major in counseling.”
Just a heads up, there is not a lot you can do when you only have your BA in psych. I got pretty lucky – I started working at a mental health facility about 4 months after graduation. I started at a 24 hour residential facility for clients with Schizophrenia. If you start working at a residential facility – EXPECT TO CLEAN A LOT OF TOILETS! Also expect to clean rooms, sweep floors, make beds, and cook/clean meals. You will NOT get a lot of client interaction. This is true for every 24 hour facility I have ever looked into. It will be advertised as having a lot of interaction, but really, there’s not. After working there for a year, I moved to a new facility in the company. Here, there is 99% actual therapy-type interaction, and 1% helping clients clean, and that’s only if needed. I got into this line of work to be with the people, not be a glorified janitor.
Anyway, as a case manager I assist people with everything – their illness, their meds, appointments with medical doctors and the psychiatrist, social security/DSHS (there’s a lot of that), etc. But for the most part, I just get to talk with people. And help them where I can.
I am getting into this, because depending on what stage you are in your education, you’ll want to get some experience in between your BA and MA. Without the foundation of practical skill, the education is all theory. Also, who would want to be counseled by a therapist who has not even stepped foot in a mental health facility? That was my reasoning.
When you get your BA and your experience out of the way, you’ll have a fantastic foundation for your Masters Thesis, and you’ll have skills to build on once you get your Master’s in Counseling. There are a lot of residential facilities for minors, so you can work at a place like that, however, keep in mind the cleaning you may face.
Once you get your MA, you can go to basically any mental health organization and not only have the practical skills, but the education to back you up.
But like I said – if you already have your BA and you’re asking about getting your Master’s degree in counseling, please excuse this entire answer :) And it’s good to see someone who has a shared interest. Best of luck!
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