Pursuing knowledge of, and credentials in Psychology?

@Ninjastar, @Orange, others with credentials in counseling, social work, or psychology, or simply anybody who would like to thoughtfully respond:

Do you have any input about pursuing knowledge of, and credentials in Psychology?

Some background:

Background on my diagnosis:
Yes, I was diagnosed with schizophrenia over 12 years ago after a psychotic episode that was at least about 2 months long. I’ve seen several psychiatrists since then, and had the diagnosis changed to schizoaffective alone, then aspergers alone, and then back to schizophrenia depending on who is doing the diagnosing. My current psychologist told me that he believes I merely had what used to be called a nervous breakdown. I started seeing a psychologist regularly since about April of May of this year.

Background on my educational background:
I have a B.S. in computer science from a regionally accredited university. I realize that is very different from psychology, however it might be accepted as a 4 year degree for entrance into some Master programs, and if I decide to pursue a second bachelor degree, I should theoretically be able to transfer many of the core credits. Perhaps on only 2 full time years of course work may be left for a degree in psychology, in either case.

I’ve started considering pursuing knowledge of, and credentials in psychology for a few reasons.

  1. My parents are aging, and I think that some knowledge of psychology may help me to ease their difficulties.

  2. One of my relatives has a dog training business and is an animal psychologist, and I think that some knowledge of psychology may help with that business.

  3. Another of my relatives runs a rather large alternative health shop, and they could probably use a psychologist, if I ever get to that distant goal.

  4. My psychologist told me during one of my first visits that with my knowledge I should be a psychiatrist. He has actually asked me for advice on his medicine if I show up early for the appointment (he says I’m on HIS time). At 44, and especially at my financial status, I believe that it would be folly for me to attempt medical school. So, during our next visit, I intend to ask him if he thinks that I might make it in some aspect of his profession of psychology.

  5. Having experienced a pretty bad psychotic episode, perhaps I can be of some help to others who have experienced that rather extreme condition of human consciousness. I’ve also experienced the seemingly ineffable sedation of being on particular doses of particular antipsychotics for about 6 years, and other less sedating doses for about another 6 years. I was even on a combination of an antipsychotic and Paxil once. Despite the heavy sedation, I still managed to work full-time, almost always. I started going to classes on my next job within a couple of weeks of first getting on meds. I also lost about 70 pounds working full time when I couldn’t seem to swallow my food quickly, including throwing meat in a meat packing facility in sub-zero temperatures with my hands in partly frozen beef blood (wearing gloves, of course) while munching Reese’s Pieces during short breaks to try to keep from losing more weight. I also did mental work while sedated. I think that the practice of psychology could use more people who have some understanding of how to function in the full time working world after a psychotic episode.

  6. Age discrimination seems to work in reverse in psychology. I may be getting to an age where the corporate world may throw me away.

For those who have been involved in the counseling world like @ninjastar and @orange:

  1. What did you like most about it?

  2. What did you like least about it?

  3. Would the pursuit of a B.S. in Psychology from Penn State University, or the pursuit of an in-person pre-clinical M.A. from another university be more fitting? Would an online doctorate from ASU be of any use? Should I simply ask practicing psychologists how to break into the field?

For others who have not been professional counselors, or anybody who has posted on the forum, really:

  1. Has any formal knowledge of psychology helped you in your personal life, such as helping aging parents with the aging process, even if it has not yielded employment or your own business in psychology?

Thanks, for thoughtful replies, in advance.

I guess my big question is, what do you want to do with your degree? Do you wish to open your own practice, or work for a clinic treating patients, or work in a research setting, etc? Hoping to help your relatives is unrealistic, because in most states it’s against the law to treat family members. If you wish to be an animal psychologist, I don’t know what credentials that requires, but maybe an ABA certification might help more than a psychology masters.

If you wish to treat patients in a clinical or private practice setting, you really only need to get a masters in social work, and then do some clinical hours to become an LCSW. It’s cheaper and easier, and they may have an easier time getting you into a masters program.

Many schools offer a special masters program, for people who got their undergrad in an unrelated field. It’s usually an extra semester or two of just the undergrad classes you need, and then straight into the masters classes.

What was your GPA in undergrad? You’ll need at least a 3.0 to get into most masters programs, as well as a decent score on the GRE. If you don’t have a 3.0 I recommend speaking to an advisor at the school you wish to apply to, to find out what undergrad classes you need, and then taking them one a a time at a community college to boost your GPA.

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Good advice. Having my hands tied from helping family members is a big consideration. I definitely don’t have my heart set on research. Working with clinical patients seems more likely for a person of my financial status.


My GPA was over 3.0 as an undergraduate.

Thanks. :slight_smile:

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Check your state requirements, too. Most states require an MSW for an LCSW but some allow people with a Bachelor’s in social work to do clinical hours.

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Why not investigate if you can become trained as a Mental Health Peer Support Worker? There may be a non profit organization in your area that would be willing to train you (usually for free) and then line you up for paid contract based work. We have such a program like this in the Greater Vancouver BC Canada area where I live.

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I’ve thought a little about that. But, I would self-identity as what? A recovered schizophrenic? My psychologist doesn’t believe that, and other psychologists probably won’t. As noted above, he thinks I had one nervous breakdown. So I self identify as guy-who-had-nervous-breakdown-and-has-been-on-meds-for-most-of-twelve-years-because-judge-wanted-him-on-meds-during-2-years-probation? May not fly. :frowning:

@Rosenthal, you have good insight and that’s hugely beneficial. I don’t think they are worried about where you were in the past, but instead, they’re concerned with where you are now. If you’ve recovered to the point where you’ve stabilized for a few years and you’re maintaining a healthy lifestyle AND you have lived experience which you do… Then you’re a candidate for consideration providing you would like to help others recover that aren’t as far along the path as you are.


I regularly listen to Jordan Peterson videos, he’s got a PhD in psychology and his videos are pretty much game changers. Very smart guy who cuts to the core of whatever topic he’s bringing up.

If I had listened to his videos growing up I think I would have wanted a career in that.

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