Just a little intro to get started...
I'm a first year student in the Clinical PsyD program, with a concentration in CFAR (Children and Families of Adversity and Resilience). I’m a Jamaican student who’s lived and studied in Massachusetts for many, many years (as well as living in a few other countries) – but I will always identify as an international student. I have a MA in Teaching (Pre-K to 2nd grade), and love working with preschool-age children, so taking part in the CFAR concentration seemed like the appropriate option for me.
Deciding to enroll in a doctoral program was a huge deal for me, so I thought that in this initial post I could share a little info about what my application and decision-making process was like. This blog and similar blog posts (as well as endless conversations with people who were “in the know”) were instrumental in my being able to make a confident and informed decision, and I only hope that I can help even one person who might be struggling in weighing his/her own pros and cons for going back to school.
There were a few big things I had to consider in deciding what school to go to. Money, of course, was an issue. But I also needed to be sure that I would be getting what I wanted at this point of my life, in order to advance my career. It was a decision that was also based on the prospect of experience; would I be in a challenging new environment that would offer me new experiences? Would I get a full range of opportunities in order to broaden my understanding of psychological and personality development and mental health? (To be quite honest, CFAR wasn’t even on my radar at that point. I had enough things to think about, and I figured that I would be able to focus my learning on children wherever I went.)
The other program I considered was an MSW (Master of Social Work) from a really excellent school (my alma mater, actually). Everyone I spoke to about the MSW said that I’d end up in the same place with an MSW as I would with a PsyD – that I could do private practice, focus on children and families, focus on social justice and multicultural issues, and really come to understand the therapeutic process. And I’m sure I could have done that program and got all those things. But in the end I decided I wanted a longer program, one that would be in-depth and thorough and technical, and have all the trappings that would give me the confidence to practice independently at the end of it all.
One thing I would suggest in making your decision is to really research the different programs and what they have to offer. Some might have more of a research component, or emphasize cross-cultural learning, or focus primarily on blending clinical practice and theory. I ended up talking to Mario Murga who connected me to a current MSPP student who was simply amazing in her wealth of knowledge, and I don't know that I would have got all that information from statistics or simply reading up about the school. Know what it is that you need at this point, whatever that point is in your career. Go to Open Houses (MSPP has a bunch), read the literature, ask past professors, talk to current students, even talk to past students!
I’m only at the beginning, but so far this has been a good start to what’s sure to be a rather long journey, but hopefully fulfilling journey! I’ll certainly keep updating on that process as the year continues, but in the meantime – feel free to post comments/questions!