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How exactly does one go about becoming a registered Clinical Psychologist? What can you do from there?

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Hi, I adore psychology and I someday aim to become a clinical psychologist. However I’m not sure what to do to get there; what high school and university / college courses to take, which countries would have the best opportunities, etc. My 3 main goals are to volunteer in the UN, work in a mental hospital, and start my own private therapy clinic. Will all this be possible with being registered as a clinical psychologist? I hope to work in PEI Canada but I want to move to wherever has the best opportunities for me and my career. #psychology #college #counseling #career #clinical-psychology

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Clint’s Answer

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Hi Alex, I can't give you specifics for Canada, but maybe I can help for the U.S. Also, I am not a psychologist, but I did pursue a master's degree in marriage and family therapy for a little while which is a similar track to clinical psychology.

Which high school courses you take doesn't matter that much, but your grade point average and test scores affect what university you can attend. From there, you would finish a 4-year university degree and then pursue a Masters degree at graduate school. As far as courses to take, you can major in Psychology and take psychology courses for your undergraduate degree, but no matter what you graduate with, you will have to apply again to your master's program and a psychology-related degree is not always a hard requirement. During undergrad, you can also volunteer or work in the mental health field (behavioral therapy, suicide hotlines, etc.) which will help your candidacy for graduate school.
During your master's program, you will participate in a practicum where you will practice under the supervision of a credentialled professional. After you graduate, you need a certain amount of hours practiced before you become fully licensed. I hope that helps!

For undergrad, you can look at this ranking of schools with top psychology programs: https://www.socialpsychology.org/gunder.htm
Thank you!! Alex K. Translate
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Tatiana’s Answer

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Great question! Most people who I’ve met who are psychologist have started with internships. If you’re willing to relocate it will help to expand your opportunities. You may also want to search for internships in a specific zip codes. You can search psychology organizations in your area and join at a student level. It will allow you to meet/network with people in your career area. I hope this helps.

Some links I found by searching: Internships + Psychology:
https://www.psychology.org/resources/internships-and-practicums/

https://www.internships.com/psychology
Thanks for the advice! Alex K. Translate
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Erin’s Answer

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Hi! I can definitely give you some guidance on this. I have my masters in Clinical Psychology and have been working toward my PhD and doing research in this field for 12 years. I also did some work with the UN and worked in a mental health program within a hospital. These are all very doable things for you, too.
I would make sure you take some psychology class or at least sociology (preferably both, if possible) at your high school. Then do a good amount of research into psychology programs in undergraduate schools wherever you want to go. I do think the programs in the US are similar to those in Canada, but look into the specific program requirements at each school. Let me know if you need help in researching this. I’m happy to help.
I would recommend reaching out to the psychology departments at these schools to find a good internship. In my undergraduate program, this is how I found multiple internships. This is much easier to do once you’re in college.
While in high school, I would ask any teachers you have in this field to point you in the direction of any organizations that accept applications for internships from high school students in mental health.
It’s a good idea to figure out what you want to research in your PhD program (a PhD or PsyD* is necessary to be a clinical psychologist; you can be a therapist with a masters in the appropriate field, or a psychiatrist with an MD, etc.).
You can try out as many different internships as you can find that interest you. You can then find some internships in mental health hospital programs if you find a hospital whose program you like. This can be just reaching out and asking if there’s a need for any intern help. Keep in mind that the privacy laws for patients make internships trickier in hospitals, but they are definitely out there.
For the UN, I would recommend trying to talk with an NGO and offering some internship help in research. There are many that are working on the mental health goal of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN. This was easier for me in NYC, but look into how you can do this virtually or with NGOs in your area. It is a very long and significant process to get a job with the UN and is generally a career so an NGO could be a more direct way to get this experience. You can also make wonderful connections in getting policy changes made this way.

Remember that you likely will not get paid for any internships you find, even in college, but if you prioritize these goals, your determination and tenacity will pay off.

*As a side note, you can choose to do a PhD and go the research route (with therapy oversight) or do a PsyD with the emphasis on only therapy with oversight. Keep in mind that a PhD will be longer, but more competitive and the program will be paid for by the school while a PsyD is something you pay for yourself and is less competitive, but you cannot do much research with this degree.

Erin recommends the following next steps:

  • Sociology/Psychology classes in high school
  • Research mental health organizations that accept high school intern applications
  • Research college programs
  • Talk to psychology department at your university about internships
  • Look at PhD programs and decide your research interests
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Hugo’s Answer

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Clinical psychology is a subfield of the psychological discipline concerned with the mental and emotional health of the human population. Professionals who work in this area are tasked with using their finely honed analytical and communication skills to help clients increase their quality of life and work through burdensome issues. Clinical psychology roles are well-suited to individuals with a strong work ethic who are able to show empathy while also being very oriented to solving problems.


ref: https://www.learnhowtobecome.org/psychologist/clinical-psychologist/
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