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Professional Development Plan Essay

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to review and discuss state licensure and certification requirements for the professional practice of psychology. It will address the different occupations within psychology that are regulated by state licensure and certification; the specific requirements for a master’s and doctoral level clinician; intended emphasis area, interested in this area; any anticipated potential career opportunities and ultimate goal for future degree. It will address strengths and weaknesses at this time and to enhance your areas of strength and address any areas of weakness. Furthermore it will discuss techniques widely utilized include multiple association memberships, advanced/continuing education courses, and association with and in both student and professional resource groups.

This paper will identify and discuss two professional membership organizations and explain why each would be beneficial as a psychology professional. It will also identify and discuss one potential resource to utilize as a networking element and explain the steps to realize the opportunity so presented. Lastly this paper will evaluate and discuss the benefits presented by networking among such groups and how they might support vocational goals and objectives.

Introduction

I took an undergraduate class called Positive Psychology and it empowered me more than I thought it would. One supplemental book that was used: Strength Finders 2.0 (Rath, 2007). Not only did it put me in the right mind-set but it also allowed me to make the right decision career-wise. I was trying to decide whether or not to pursue a MSW or M.A. in Psychology. After reading Rath’s book and applying it to my personal life, I finally stuck to what was in my heart; counseling. No coursework actually influenced me to pursue a Masters in Psychology degree. I was attending Morehouse College attempting to pursue Pre-Med Biology and was required to take a few psychology classes, after having a deeper understanding of what psychology was, I was hooked and changed my major. My passion for helping individuals has directly and indirectly influenced the career field I’m pursuing. It has always been a passion of mine to help youth. As I became older and matured in life over the years, I’ve been able to direct what I want to do in life in a more concrete direction.

I started from wanting to be a pediatrician, because I wanted to help kids, to now in the process of becoming a therapist, still helping kids. At 29, I’m still learning that I don’t know as much as I think I do. I’ve learned that in order to be the best at what I’m trying to do, I need to apply myself much more than I’m doing now. The various theories I’ve covered thus far has given me a greater outlook on the past and what the future can be. Everything that I’m learning can be used in some aspect and I won’t fully know the extent of what I’ve learned until I have to use it in practical application career-wise. I’m learning to be thoughtful and respectful of theories and ideas that do not appeal to me or that I don’t agree with. When it comes to interest, goals and values, it is something that I do not compromise on, especially my values. I use to work at a youth residential mental health facility. My job was to look at the client’s treatment plan and come up with something that will help them start the process of discharging in the future. Kind of like a therapist but without the therapy part and licensure aspect.

I have clients ask me things, ask for things and tell me thing that are far from my values. What I have to remember is that, “I’m not here to teach my values, I’m here to make transformations”. It’s hard sometimes because I’m dealing with clients from all walks of life and they’ve been through hell and back. What it does for me is allow me to appreciate the values that I do have that have allowed me to make it to where I am now. Goal wise, the field that I am in now is where I want to be for the rest of my life. As I stated before, I initially began with wanting to be a pediatrician but as reality set in for me I decided that I can still “help” people but just in a different facet, that being through psychology.

The things I’ve learned over the years and the experiences I’ve have, whether positive or negative are all “tools” that I’ve acquired that will allow me to help others reach and overcome the issues that they may be struggling with. That is why I love working with youth because I seem to relate to them and I can interact with them on a level that is not belittling or degrading. The overused cliché “The Children Are Our Future”, is something that I take seriously and that is why I love doing what I do and I will continue to fine tune my craft and gift that I believe was given to me for a reason.

Different Occupations

There are a plethora of occupations within psychology that are regulated by state licensure and certification but for the purpose of this paper only two will be addressed; clinical and counseling.

Clinical Psychologist

This area includes interviewing, observation and testing; all clinical psychologists need to be thoroughly trained in this area and should be able to choose the correct type of testing/method when conducting this with the client. They test such things as intellect, cognitive processes, and social functioning along with this, being able to interpret the test is also essential to clinical psychologist. As well as being able to conduct test, a major role also includes the ability to diagnosis using multiple models. Giving the client the inner strength to acclimatize themselves to change and gain a sense of power in everyday living. The ability to implement and conduct different programs both basic and applied. This is a fundamental function of clinical psychologist in both clinical and academic formats. Working with peers who work with clients, interacting with peers, contributing their services for the bettering of the program, and obtaining supervision. Clinical psychologists have a skill set which provides a much needed service to society. They use it by practicing, creating and evaluating applied and scientific skills (Vallis & Howes, 1996).

Specific requirements for a Master’s Level Program

An individual with a master’s degree cannot call themselves Psychologists because they have not obtained the degree level (Ph.D or Psy.D) to have that title. Those at the master’s level can only call themselves clinicians or therapist. This is granted only after successively completing an accredited master’s level program then passing the exam to become licensed in a particular state(s). After taking the exam they will take on the title of LCPC and after a year or two under a clinician who holds a LPC.

Many individuals stop at this level for various reasons such as not wanting to go back to school for the doctoral level degree, their job does not require a higher level of education than the LCPC/LPC, or they feel comfortable at the level of credentials and education they currently hold. There are plenty of careers for therapist/clinicians just in the master’s level such as academics, counseling centers, independent practice, human service agencies, hospitals, medical centers, and business/industries (Sternberg, 2007) position it depends on the direction an individual wants to take.

Specific requirements for a Doctoral Level Program

Obtaining a Ph.D or Psy.D is a slightly different route that requires more years of education and allows you the option to become a psychologist or psychiatrist. There are only a couple of states that allow you to prescribe medication as a psychologist. Many individuals take this route because of the higher level it allows one to begin at, others for the particular specialized area of career one decides to get in. These individuals are held to a higher level of standard and their expectations are also higher due to the lengthy amount of education and experience they bring.

In a study done at Rutgers University they found that “A greater number of Ph.D. alumni received “other honors and awards,” and Psy.D. graduates did not out-perform Ph.D”( Biondo, 2010). The study in itself, although just one study, shows that the only difference lies in the choice that an individual wants to take. There are few differences in the Ph.D and the Psy.D but the main question is what direction you want career moving toward. Most Ph.D programs focus more on research while most Psy.D programs prepare for psychology practice (Tartakovsky, 2011).

Vail Model

The Vail Model formed in 1973 in Vail, Colorado at a conference because of the ongoing levels of disagreement from the Boulder conference. The supporters at the Vail conference believed that psychology was broad enough to have another designator other than the Ph.D (Norcross & Castle, 2002). They suggested that there should be a difference between practitioners and scientist so they formed what we now know as Psy.D. Unlike the Pd.D program, the Psy.D could be housed in one of three different settings: (1) University Departments (2) University Professional Schools and (3) Freestanding Institutions (Norcross & Castle, 2002).

Boulder Model

The Boulder Model was founded in 1949 at a clinical psychology conference in Boulder, Colorado. The purpose of the conference was to provide training and was the first of its kind. Duality was given to clinical psychologist as “scientist-practitioners” (Norcross & Castle, 2002). Two other milestones were crossed; (1) the required degree established was the Ph.D and (2) they wanted the training to be within the department and not a stand-alone establishment (Norcross & Castle, 2002).

Personal Strengths and Weakness

Many of my strengths come from personal experiences and workplace experiences because many of the jobs I’ve held and many of the areas in which I’ve volunteered in were of the mental health aspect or dealt with community services and counseling. My outgoing personality and willingness to go out on a limb for my fellow man is a huge strength of mine. I’m able to empathize with other peoples’ emotions and experiences. This aspect allows me to quickly and honestly build a rapport with those who I am working with. Some of my weaknesses are the field itself. I’m a rookie and hopefully the mistakes I will make will not be costly. Another weakness of mine is stubbornness to accept new ideas which are outside of my personal beliefs.

Let me say that I love learning new things that will further enhance and expound my profession but I know that for me personally, other ideas outside of what I feel comfortable with, is an area that I struggle in. This is something that I know I would need to work on because it could hinder my ability to learn things beneficial to me.

Techniques and Growth

The American Psychological Association and the American Counseling Association are just two of the many outlets that are available. These organizations hold conferences and publish material to provide resources to those in the profession. Graduate and post-graduate schools are also a good resource because of the seasoned staff, forums, mini conferences, and meetings related to those in the profession. It is also good to become involved in various organizations to assist with networking and gaining knowledge.

Summary and Conclusion

I feel blessed to have taken this course and to be apart such a growing field which changes the lives of so many people each day. I am learning much and I will always reflect on what I’ve learned in this course and future ones as well. Each day I’m continuing to take what I’ve learned and apply it to my personal everyday life. The enjoyment I’ve experienced and the trials I’ve been able to overcome are a direct result of this course and other. All I can say is that this has been an unbelievable journey and I’m continually looking forward for what comes next.

References
Biondo, K. M. (2010). Careers of professional psychologists: A comparison of the career experiences of the graduates of the clinical psy.D. and ph.D. programs at rutgers university. (Order No. 3427768, Rutgers The State University of New Jersey, Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses,134. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/816337928?accountid=39364. (816337928). Miller, A. (n.d.). Master’s Level Clinician Vs. Psychologist | Everyday Life – Global Post. Everyday Life – Global Post. Retrieved September 6, 2013, from http://everydaylife.globalpost.com/masters-level-clinician-vs-psychologist-4551.html Rath, T. (2007). StrengthsFinder 2.0. New York: Gallup Press. Norcross, J., & Castle, P. (2002). Eye on Psi Chi. PSI CHI, 7(1), 22-26. Tartakovsky, M. (2011). Choosing Between the PsyD and PhD Psychology Graduate Degrees. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 6, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/choosing-between-psyd-phd-psychology-graduate-degrees/0007876


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