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what should i consider before going into a career in psychology, especially in dealing with mental health?

Salary? Specific difficulties? Pros/cons?

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Michael’s Answer

The field of mental health is very challenging, in that one has to deal with the most hidden secrets of man kind! The mind is the most complex system in the universe. One advantage an individual has to understanding the mind is to understand oneself. That one insight is critical when one is talking about the mind of others! Reading and studying to understand all of the complex knowledge that speaks to how the mind works is essential. There is no cookie cutter that is associated with the human brain. Most of the work that one does in mental health is as easy as being a good listener. People know who they are and what they want but some are unable to articulate their emotions! When you become a psychologist, you will already have acute understanding of yourself and your personal mental health is positively intact. Then you’ll be able to assist, guide and direct those you are compelled to help! Best of all in your study and commitment.
Thank you comment icon I appreciate your input, it was really helpful! Adilay
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James Constantine’s Answer

Hello Adilay,

I bring a unique perspective to mental health issues, backed by a solid foundation in biochemistry. My personal experience includes growing up with a mother who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia for the first 11 years of my life. Additionally, I have an academic background in this field, having lectured on medical biochemistry to medical students 42 years ago.

Considering your interest, I would suggest pursuing an undergraduate degree in psychology or training to become a mental health nurse. However, if you're aiming higher, I would recommend pursuing a Doctorate with a major in Psychiatry at prestigious institutions like Harvard or John's Hopkins. Afterward, I encourage you to explore orthomolecular psychiatry, a method pioneered by Dr. Abram Hoffer in the 1950s. His approach achieved a remarkable 90% success rate in therapy, but was controversially disqualified.

Best,
James
Thank you comment icon That's something to look into, thank you! Adilay
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Barb’s Answer

Hi Adilay,
Psychology is a very interesting field and I considered this when I began in college as I love to help people and I also like to try and figure out what makes people "tick". I took psychology classes in college but when I really thought about having this career every day and listening to individuals with many different issues and circumstances, I felt it could be very depressing. I am a very positive individual but I felt this field would be too upsetting for me. Everyone is different and you know "yourself" the best, so my recommendation is to go with your "gut" and see if this is what you would like to do each day. If you didn't major in this field, maybe you could do some "volunteering" rather than your full-time job. I ended up getting a degree in Accounting since that field encompasses many different companies. :)
Thank you comment icon That's definitely something I'll consider, thank you for your input. Adilay
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Amit’s Answer

Hi Adilay,

Before going into a career in psychology, especially in dealing with mental health, there are several factors you should consider:

Salary: The field of psychology can be a high-paying field, providing career options in many different industries. However, salaries can vary widely depending on factors such as location, experience level, and specific industry.

Specific Difficulties:

Emotional Stress: Working in mental health can be emotionally taxing as you’ll often deal with sensitive issues.
The complexity of Billing and Record-Keeping: Especially in private practice, the financial expenses to cover liability insurance, the need for continuing education, and the complexity of billing and record-keeping can be challenging.
Compassion Fatigue and Professional Stresses: The work can be stressful and lead to compassion fatigue. Support from peers is crucial to help manage these stresses.

Pros:
High Demand: There is an increasing need for trained mental health professionals in today’s society as depression and anxiety rates rise.
Helping Others: If you enjoy working with others and helping them achieve better overall wellness, pursuing a degree in psychology makes sense.
Broad Range of Fields: The field has good growth potential and also provides the opportunity to be employed in a broad range of fields1.

Cons:
Lengthy Education Process: Becoming a licensed psychologist with a doctoral degree requires many years of education.
Financial Considerations: Many graduate school applicants discover that most scholarships and grants are not available to cover a master’s program and that most fellowships and assistantships are only part of doctoral-level programs.

Remember, these are just some considerations. It’s important to do thorough research and perhaps speak with professionals in the field to get a comprehensive understanding of what a career in psychology entails. Good luck! 😊
Thank you comment icon This was super helpful info, thank you! Adilay
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David’s Answer

Hi Adilay -- As a person who had a career in clinical and community psychology, I learned there are several practical considerations to be aware of if you're thinking about working in mental health as a psychologist. In most cases, becoming a clinical psychologist means earning a Ph.D. or Psy.D. in psychology, plus a year-long internship. Clinical psychologists are trained in how to do clinical research and also in the use of a range of psychological tests for all ages and developmental stages. This includes assessments of intellectual ability, aptitude, personality variables, learning and memory, neuropsychology, and other specializations. They also are trained in the diagnostic assessment of mental disorders and the use of research-based psychotherapeutic interventions.

In my experience, most clinical settings designed to assess and treat mental health disorders have inter-disciplinary teams of professionals including, for example, case managers, clinical or medical social workers, masters-level counselors or psychotherapists, and maybe clinical psychologists, and usually a psychiatrist (who is a medical doctor and who can prescribe psychotropic medications). Clinical psychologists and psychiatrists have the most years of education and training and therefore are usually higher paid members of staffs. Partly because of that, but also because they can contribute some highly specialized services (testing and medication), usually there are only a few on multidisciplinary treatment teams.

If you have a good understanding of what doctorate level psychologists can do, and how much (expensive) education and training is required, that may be the best choice for you. On the other hand, if your goal is to be able to assess and treat people with mental disorders, there are a number of masters-level professions that would allow you to do that with a two year masters degree plus another year of supervised clinical training (an internship), which would lead to state licensure. This is a less expensive route that could qualify you for a wide range of work opportunities, and sooner.

All the above information applies to a wide range of ages and developmental stages (children, teens, adults, etc.), severity of problems (outpatient, inpatient, day treatment programs, etc.), settings (clinics, mental health agencies, hospitals, schools, etc.), and independent private practice.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much! This was so helpful! Adilay
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