Debating Different Directions

When it comes to a career in psychology, there are many different pathways to choose from. Do you want to go straight into private practice, or would you prefer a group setting? Do you want to work with kids or adults? It’s a lot to consider, but it’s essential all the same.

Picking a path

Jennifer Taylor published a salient piece on Practice of the Practice covering the pros and cons of group versus solo practice. Choosing the right path for you is no easy decision. She highlights the fact that your personality type is a major viable. It should come as no surprise that extroverts are more likely to enjoy group settings, whereas introverts more frequently prefer the solitary ones. Another obvious variable is the patient population that you’re expected to treat. Joining a group practice won’t necessarily permit you much freedom of choice or flexibility, but at least you’re always likely to have clients. On the other hand, running a private practice would afford almost unilateral decision-making power over such topics, but at the cost of having a more uncertain clientele.

Private practice

Lots of psychologists hope to establish their own private practice. Doing so successfully is another story. They have to consider and balance a host of competing variables to run a business the right way while maintaining exceptional client service. A lot of people completely underestimate the business side of the equation and instead fixate too much on therapy. That’s a mistake easily avoided with some honest self-reflection and some thorough due diligence.

Get experience

Consider another qualified perspective. Tori DeAngelis at the American Psychological Association (APA) openly questioned whether or not aspiring psychologists are ready for private practice. She brings up some incredibly persuasive points. The first and most compelling point has to do with gaining practical experience within a supervised setting of fellow practitioners, some of whom are likely to be experts with considerable tacit knowledge. That’s a critically linked to her later point: develop new talents. That’s much more difficult to accomplish operating by yourself.

Group settings

Fortunately, there’s no shortage of group settings that might fit the ideal career situation. You can explore a relatively comprehensive list of career options working with kids, thanks to writers at Affordable Colleges. A standout example from the list is counseling, which is a fairly broad category itself. So broad, in fact, you will need to investigate the difference between a school counselor and a school psychologist. While both career paths let you work within a formal educational setting (i.e., K-12, private institutions, etc.) and share some overlapping responsibilities, they ultimately perform unique functions.

Get an advanced degree

Forging meaningful relationships with children is absolutely possible, regardless of which path you choose. The most important differences are expectations around adult peer interactions and the type of interventions you administer (and for what purpose). Either way, you’ll have to pursue an advanced degree in order to advance these goals. It’s never too early to begin searching for a promising school counselor program. The sooner you can align present efforts with future ambitions, the sooner you can make them a reality.

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