Careers in Psychology

The Professional School of Psychology prepares its students for careers in two fields of professional psychology: (1) Clinical Psychology (including clinical with a health emphasis) and (2) Organizational Psychology. Many of our mature and accomplished students will blend clinical and organizational psychology in their degree program, so that they might serve in a leadership role within a human service organization. Nevertheless, there is an important distinction to be made between the fields of clinical and organizational psychology that a prospective student should keep in mind.

Who Goes into the Field of Clinical Psychology?

Clinical students tend to be people who (a) work in the general health services field, (b) people who have imagined themselves in the role of a psychotherapist, and (c) people who are masters-level psychotherapists who would like advanced training at the doctoral level.

While most organizational psychologists (those who complete the doctoral program) do not seek formal licensure, almost every clinical student does seek formal licensure. Why? Because the practice of psychotherapy is regulated by the State of California and most every other state. This distinction is important because the decision to seek graduate education in clinical psychology is only the first step in the process to be licensed.

What Work Is Done by Clinical Psychologists?

Masters-level psychotherapists work with individuals, couples and families. Their State of California licensing examinations tend to focus on family systems theories – those psychotherapeutic methodologies that frame the presenting problem in a larger, family context. Yet, in their actual, day-to-day practice, many Marriage and Family Therapists work as individual-oriented therapists. It often depends on what one enjoys.

Doctoral-level psychotherapists work with individuals, couples and families as well, though they tend to focus more on individuals. With a doctoral degree in clinical psychology, one can become a State-licensed Psychologist. In addition to their work as psychotherapists, a Psychologist is trained to administer psychological evaluative instruments, such as the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, the Millon Multiaxial Clinical Inventory, the Thematic Apperception Test, the Rorschach Inkblot Test, and others. Note that one can achieve the Psy.D. and license with the Board of Behavioral Sciences as a Marriage and Family Therapist. Many people with the Psy.D. dual license operate as a Psychologist and as a Marriage and Family Therapist.

It may be helpful to note that the managed care environment in which we all live has led to cost containment measures which, as a practical matter, have limited the number of treatment sessions allowed by the insurance company. These limitations have added influence to and prompted the further development of brief psychotherapeutic methodologies. Notably, what is known as cognitive-behavioral therapy is of critical importance in contemporary practice. Indeed, many people would argue that cognitive-behavioral therapy is efficacious in ways that traditional psychotherapies are not.

Who Goes into the Field of Organizational Psychology?

Organizational students tend to be (a) people who want to gain skills and competencies that will allow them to advance within their current corporate environment, (b) people who are or hope to be internal consultants within their current corporate environment, and (c) people who are part of a private firm in which ‘you’ function as an external consultant to business enterprises.

What Work Is Done by Organizational Psychologists?

There are any number of business enterprises – some small, some large, some huge – which run into problems as they become successful. If they aren’t successful, they fold. If they are successful, success often has to do with the original vision of the founder(s) whose idea or product gave the organization a competitive advantage. Yet, as organizations grow, new challenges develop which often are resistant to the energy that drove the original successes. To a large extent, students who are interested in organizational psychology are people who have a heart for helping organizations move through these periods of resistance.

Change is usually difficult, but is also inevitable. Managing change processes so that an organization (and the real, human beings who rely upon the organization for a living) maintains a success oriented, competitive advantage, is typically the goal of the organizational consultant. Is this the kind of work in which you would like to be involved? Please discuss your options for a suitable degree with the Professional School of Psychology.