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What major is best for becoming a rehabilitation psychologist?

I am interested in becoming a rehabilitation psychologist (working with people with learning and/or physical disabilities). However, I am unclear if a degree in social work or a degree in psychology is best for creating a path to my goal. I know you it seems like psych is the answer, but I've read info that says entry level positions can be obtained with a general social work degree and general psych degrees don't seem to offer enough options to build a specialty like disability studies (but some social work degree programs do). I am having a hard time figuring out a path to this profession. #psychology #social-work #disabilities

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David’s Answer

You can do Psychology, Recreational Therapy (RT), Social Work, and related disabilities or helping major. I am not sure if your school have Recreational Therapy (RT) major but what I am seeing from your interest that this will be the major you are looking for because it does include social work, psychology, working with people with disabilities from developmental, learning, physical, mental, and more. You can try looking it up other than that will be working in the field with the organization. With the course work will be better because you have the theoretical method of what the field is like, but you also need the field, the on hand experience to develop your experiences and create case study report for any future reference.

Try asking you school first such as your college adviser or counselor and see if they can guide you to the pathway you need to be earning the degree or profession you want to be while in college.

Hi, Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my question. Your answer was thoughtful and helpful. Saci M.

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Maurita’s Answer

Hello Saci!

You are in the perfect position to go in many directions. Sooooo, let's break this down. The path you desire to take has a base that allows for many add-ons (i.e., general or specific areas of expertise). What do we know? We know the base should always be psychology. Now here is where it gets interesting. Depending on your desired college/university and the programs they offer, you can complete minors, complete concentrations, and earn certifications.

Some examples:

Your degree is a psychology degree with a minor in sociology and concentration in physical therapy. This will provide an understanding of how the mind is connected to healing the body. It will also allow you to find or create opportunities to assist your client outside of your office (e.g., the family, the community partners, etc.).

You also can look into a dual degree in psychology and social work, allowing you to take courses related to holistic well-being on a micro (individual), mezzo (community), and macro (global) level.

I'm also going to encourage you to look at the arena the degree will allow for opportunities to serve your population on various levels. That is, you never want to pigeon hole yourself into only one type of position. Think of how you want to use your degree one year after you graduate, five years after you graduate, and ten years after you graduate.

Good luck!

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Jessica Sera’s Answer

It is great that you have already looked at what some entry-level positions require, whether it be a social work degree or a psychology degree. Each job is different and may have different requirements. That being said, both the psychology major and social work major seem to align with the work you want to pursue. I would recommend looking at the major requirements for each major and see which is more of interest to you and more aligned with your potential career. If you are interested in becoming a rehabilitation psychologist, I would also recommend looking at graduate programs in this field. There is a possibility that there are certain prerequisite courses you need to take in order to apply for a certain graduate program. You may save yourself some time if you take these classes during undergrad. Overall, aside from your major choice, relevant experience will always be important when applying for a career. Try to look up an internship or volunteer opportunities in rehabilitation psychology and gain insight from professionals in the field. Best of luck!

Jessica Sera recommends the following next steps:

Look up major requirements for each and choose the classes that best align with your goals
Search possible graduate programs and take any prerequisites when you have the chance
Gain experience in the field through volunteering or an internship
Network with professionals to learn about their career path

Thanks. I appreciate you taking the time to answer my question . Saci M.