This article will discuss the Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) degree program, some of the courses and subjects that you will need to take, and why you may want to consider completing the degree as part of your career advancement strategy. It will also present one high-quality online PsyD program that you may want to consider.
What Is a PsyD?
A psychologist is an important mental health professional, who is responsible for diagnosing and treating patients through group and individual therapy, in an effort to help them achieve good mental health. In order to be able to call yourself a psychologist and practice as such, you must hold a doctorate degree, such as the PsyD. This degree usually takes five years to complete.
It is common for the PsyD program to have a concentration, such as forensics, child psychology, health psychology, and so on. As part of a PsyD degree, students must also take part in clinical training, during which time prospective psychologists receive real world training while being supervised by a trained and licensed psychologist.
To be accepted into a PsyD program, students must have completed at least a bachelor’s degree, although many programs require a masters degree. Furthermore, they must usually have relevant work experience, and they must have letters of recommendation.
During the degree program, students take part in a research section that includes statistical analysis, design, and psychological methods. It should be noted that each university sets its own core curriculum, although most schools ensure that the courses cover the broader topics of psychological practice. Meanwhile, through elective courses, students are able to obtain a degree that focuses on their own particular fields of interest. It is common to see courses in subjects such as:
- Assessment of Children
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Developmental Psychology
- Group Psychotherapy
In every state, psychologists need to be licensed if they wish to deliver clinical care. The requirements for that license vary from state to state, although a doctorate degree, supervised clinical experience, and an examination are always required. Licenses can usually be transferred from one state to another, so long as specific requirements are met.
Those who wish to become licensed in a specific area of psychology do so through the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP). Each of the different specializations have their own requirements. They are transferable across the country.
Why Earn a PsyD?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has reported that those who hold a PsyD degree can be employed in a variety of different settings, including private practices, state governments, outpatient settings, schools, and more. In these settings, they help clients to identify the causes of their behavioral issues or mental ill-health. They often work as part of a multidisciplinary team of law enforcement, education, and health professionals. Completing a PsyD can lead to a variety of positions in various fields, such as clinical psychology, behavioral psychology, child psychology, forensic psychology, and more.
The BLS has also reported that the median salary for psychologists was $75,230 per year as of May 2016. They have also estimated that from 2014 to 2024, there will be a 19% growth in demand for these practitioners, which is much higher than the national average. This will translate into 32,500 new jobs.
Online Option for PsyD
If you wish to complete a PsyD and want to do so online, you may want to consider the PsyD in Behavioral Health Leadership program offered by Walden University. This program has been found to develop leaders in a cross-disciplinary field that enhances the delivery of integrated behavioral health care and mental health care across the board. There is a significant need for people who have the skills and knowledge to develop and deliver high quality mental health care as part of integrate health services.
This is a leadership program, but it does not lead to a licensure. Rather, it is about equipping students with cross-disciplinary skills and knowledge, focusing on practice experiences, management, and business skills. This particular degree program is respected for its applicable content, suitable in particular for behavioral health professionals who are already licensed and practicing. These include behavioral health agency administrators, nurses, social workers, therapists, and counselors. This doctorate degree provides them with advanced skills in program evaluation, entrepreneurship, instruction and training, procurement, financial management, and leadership.
While the degree is available online, it also requires two residencies for completion. Uniquely, one of them is virtual. Students take part in a variety of real-life, interactive case studies, which enable them to apply their skills to real-life situations. The degree also offers six specializations that students can choose from if they wish. This requires them to complete three additional elective courses. The specializations are:
- International practice
- Healthcare management
- Public health
- Health psychology
- Industrial and organizational psychology
Graduates are expected to be well-versed on the foundational elements of behavioral health leadership and the uniqueness of this specialty. They are able to assess behavioral health in the context of economics, politics, social situations, and cultures. Indeed, they are able to evaluate whether existing behavioral health programs are suitable for the populations they are meant to serve. A strong focus is placed on ethics, and also on regulatory and legal practices and on promoting positive social change.
The core curriculum of the degree includes:
- Foundations of Graduate Study in Behavioral Health Leadership
- Behavioral Healthcare Management
- Consulting for Organizational Change
- Research Theory, Design, and Methods
- Behavioral Health Social Entrepreneurship and Advocacy
- Governance, Law, and Policy for Healthcare Leaders of Behavioral Healthcare
- Leadership and Leader Development
- Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis
- Strategic Planning: Collaboration, Cooperation, and Coordination
- Doctoral Research Project Lab
- Program Evaluation
- Grant Writing
Graduates are also expected to be prepared to take on a variety of professional positions, being respected for their skills in leadership and management. Positions are available in public and private organizations alike, and many start their own private practice, working as consultants. They can work in social service agencies, nonprofit organizations, hospitals, health care agencies, and group homes, to name but a few. Some of the potential job roles that a graduate could take on include:
- Behavioral health manager
- Behavioral health leader
- Project manager
- Consultant/business owner
- Research manager
Obtaining a PsyD is a great way to advance your career in improving the mental health of patients. You can do this by completing a licensing, clinical degree, enabling you to work directly with patients with problematic mental health. Alternatively, you can obtain a degree such as that offered by Walden University, which enables you to improve the practice of other professionals. Either way, you will have advanced leadership and practical skills that will enable you to find employment in a variety of settings.
- Psychologists. (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm
- PsyD in Behavioral Health Leadership (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.waldenu.edu/doctoral/psyd-in-behavioral-health-leadership
- American Board of Professional Psychology. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.abpp.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3285