David J.’s Answer
Clinical psychology and neuroscience (especially cognitive neuroscience) are wonderful fields! I am an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist by education. This field is not as intense as clinical psychology or neuroscience so you are asking some excellent questions! One recommendation is to explore volunteer opportunities at community agencies or mental health service providers to make sure that you would enjoy the field. There are two routes to becoming a clinical psychologist: Bachelor's degree and Master's degree or Bachelor's degree, [Master's degree], Ph.D. or Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology. The most important factor is to identify a program that has been accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA). The APA has an entire section of their website dedicated to education. This includes information on undergraduate and graduate education. One area that is highlighted on this site is community service. This is a great way to build experience and add to your resume before you enter college.
Once you are in college try to work with faculty who are conducting research in the areas you interested in. My middle daughter is an undergraduate and wants to be a clinical psychologist. She volunteered to travel to Thailand to help work with young children and teach them English. She also assisted with prison inmate exit interviews for prisoners, diagnosed with a psychological disorder, who were going to be released. These types of opportunities and activities will look great on your applications to graduate school in the future.
David J. recommends the following next steps:
- Identify community service and volunteer opportunities in your area related to psychology.
- Visit the APA's website on education. https://www.apa.org/education/
- Start to build your resume now and also research potential graduate programs that are APA-accredited (this is very important for clinical psychology).