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How many years does it take to become a clinical psychologist,what are some skills/education requirements for this career?

I'm a 16 year old female ,currently in junior year who loves to help people who are going through emotional problems and is very empathetic with people and is thinking into going into the path way of psychology but im not sure whats exactly is required to go into that career. #college #psychology


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Claudia’s Answer

I have learned that before I can help others, I need to learn how to help my self.  I volunteer every Monday at my local church to help hurting women to overcome pain and struggles, but before I could do that, I had to attend the program my self.  It is very important to have an understanding how we can best help others, not just by having similar story or situations, but truly understand the cause and ways to heal.  If you enrolled a program like I did and find the healing or how to overcome your struggles, then you will become an amazing candidate to be a therapist or psychologist, there are so many roles in that area that you can study, not necessary by medicating but giving tools or resources to find healing.


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Kayla’s Answer

Hi Cristal!

I have been in the same position. I have always been invested in people's journeys, individuals would often come to me for advice, and I felt a lot of empathy for others in all kinds of situations. We are helpers and want to do what we can to fix issues. This is why I chose to earn a degree in Psychology with a minor in Sociology - I love helping people.

There are many routes in the field of Psychology. I believe you are referring to a Clinical Psychologist which is the typical therapist career. To become a licensed Clinical Psychologist you would need a Doctorate. This also requires experience in the field for so many hours (typically around 2,000 hours), passing a licensing exam, and continued education after you get your licensing. It is a big commitment!

If having a practice and seeing patients day in and day out is not something you would like to commit yourself to, I would suggest looking into sub-fields of Psychology. Some of the focuses are Behavioral, Cognitive, Forensic, Organizational, Environmental, and more. Graduates with a Bachelor's Degree go into work as career counselors, probation/parole officers, childcare workers, social workers, journalists, researchers, sales representatives, human resources - the opportunities are endless. Also look into other careers that focus on people skills. Complimentary fields would be Sociology, Education, Public Health, Criminal Justice, Law, Business, and Communications among others.

I personally did not continue my education into Clinical Psychology as I thought I would when I was a teenager. The schooling was too long and I had too many other interests to narrow down to one subject. Also, if you are truly an empath it can be very hard to take on other people's emotional baggage constantly. I would look into opportunities like Claudia mentioned - maybe offer your services at a church, join some local organizations, volunteer, make connections where you can help others without necessarily having a degree in Psychology.

Find out what your other interests are. After taking a personality test to determine how my likes and needs would match to a career path, I perfectly aligned in 4 of the 6 categories listed. I asked my professor what that meant, and he told me that I essentially need to find a job that can fulfill all of the areas at once or find a job that fulfills one or two areas and pick up hobbies in the other areas. I like to be creative, I am very organized, I like creating efficiencies, I enjoy helping people and being around people. I need a very versatile job to fulfill my needs and that was not being a therapist. I worked in healthcare for a few years and I am now an Executive Assistant at a large company. I work with a Vice President on a team with 1,500 people, my days are never the same, I am the point of contact to help everyone, I get to be creative, I get to organize and streamline processes, I get to use my research and mathematical skills - it is a perfect role to match my personality. Sometimes doing what you love manifests in a role you would have never thought about, so I would encourage you to do some more reflection.

Kayla recommends the following next steps:

Research Psychology degrees and what careers you can do at each level (BA, MA, PhD)
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Make a list of your strengths and interests
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Take some career and personality assessments
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