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  1. #1
    Jcumming is offline Registered User
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    What do people do with Ph.D. in Human Services?

    Hello,

    First, I have lurked here for some time now and love the information I have gained. Nice to see other people are thinking critically about distance learning.

    I would like to see a dialoge about the topic of non-licensed doctorates. But first, a little about me. I have an MSW and I am a licensed clinical social worker in private practice in Wyoming. I have been researching getting my PhD for the last four or five years and feel I have a good handle on licensing issues, practice issues, and the reasons behind wanting my doctorate, both personal and professsional. Now, my question.

    In 2005, I applied to two doctoral programs in clincial psychology . One accepted me that was perfect (Colorado School of Professional Psychology ). They offered the PsyD and they are close enough I could drive down monthly for class. However, there were vastly differing reports about the timeline regarding them earning APA accreditation, so I withdrew before attending.

    The second program I applied to (Fielding) has APA accreditation, but declined to invite me to interview or have a space in their program.

    I have seen the printed statistics on the number of people in Fielding's Human & Organizational Devlopment (HOD) program. The last time I saw this number, it was higher than the number of people in the PhD psych program. Someone I respect, who I met here (David Williams) exchanged email with me and taught me a lot about doctoral work and doctoral education . One topic he and I discussed was earning a doctorate in Human Services instead of a doctorate in psychology . He strongly advised against this, as did one of my previous professors from my graduate program. They both stated that it would be ill-advised to get a doctorate in a field that cannot be licensed.

    With that thought in mind, and after not getting into a program that will allow me to earn an APA doctorate, I am back to thinking about a Human Services degree. After my thoughts, plus knowing about the high number of people in the HOD program, I am back to wondering: What are these peolpe doing with this degree that offsets the cost associated with earning it? Where could I go professionally, knowing that I will always maintain my licensure as a clinical social worker?? Would a degree like that -- from Fielding or Capella -- take me to new opportunity?

    Your thoughts are welcome! Thanks in advance.

    James
    Jim

  2. #2
    simon is offline Registered User
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    James,

    You already possess a clinical degree in social work degree and state licensure to practice. Unless you wish to change professions and invest at least four to five years to obtain a doctorate in clinical psychology as well as considerable financial expenditure, a Ph. D in Human Services from Capella or Walden would provide you with the status and the advantages associated with this credential. In addition to the enhanced title, if you have interest, a doctorate in human services could be used to seek senior level administrative positions within social service agencies; teaching positions within colleges and universities; and consultation opportunities within the domain of private industry and the non-profit social service sector. In other words, the doctorate in human Services enhances one's professional porfolio and image and if marketed properly may lead to alternative career pathways.

  3. #3
    Jack Tracey is offline Registered User
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    Hi James, it's always good to have another Social Worker on the forum. I think that for you the main benefits of earning a PhD in anything is that it might make it easier for you to land a teaching position at some university. Beyond that, you might be able parlay a PhD into some sort of consultation gig. It also might make you a bit more competitive in the private practice realm.

    However, and if I can say this without being offensive, you seem to be approaching this situation backwards. Most people seem to figure out what they want to do first, and then if they need another degree to get themselves there then they go out and get the degree. You seem to be set on getting the degree but it's not clear that you know why you're doing it. You seemed to be interested in the Fielding program because it was an APA program but since you're already licensed to practice, I'm not sure why the APA-ness of that program is such a big deal. You could get a PhD in a branch of Psychology other than Clinical, such as Developmental Psych or Cognitive Psych and it would serve as a useful addition to your knowledge and clinical practice regardless of whether it was an APA degree. You could also go the Touro/NCU/Nova route and earn a PhD in a clinical area that wasn't APA approved.

    In any case, I would recommend that you think about your goals for the degree and then go get the degree that will get you there.
    Best of luck.
    Jack
    (MSW, Simmons College, 1989)

  4. #4
    fortiterinre is offline Registered User
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    I have only met one person working on a doctorate in human services (Capella ), and she cheerfully admitted that it was basically for both personal and professional prestige, period. She already has master's level clinical licensure in counseling and her agency does not need and will not pay her as a licensed clinical psychologist , but she wants the personal satisfaction of being the first in her family to earn a doctorate and I'm sure to be addressed as "Doctor." I personally think this is perfectly fine.

    I agree with the above that going from an MSW to a PsyD is essentially a career change, whether or not you are license-eligible, and a license ineligible PsyD might not be a help at all, as regs are so strict about what you represent yourself as. Human services also has a clinical, direct-service nature or feel to it that organizational development and other less health-centered fields lack. "Noted psychotherapist Dr. James Cumming" doesn't break any laws--and it certainly has a nice ring to it!

    This might well be considered a transparent end-run to avoid the requirements of licensure as a psychologist and is exactly why many will advise against a doctorate in human services (along with ongoing debate about how to define "human services" as a field). In conventional health care circles only psychiatrists and psychologists are regularly addressed as "Doctor," and the latter sometimes less consistently than they would like. I know another person who has both an M.A. and a PhD in Art Therapy--art therapy is "registered" at the master's level, and they can also become licensed counselors at this level too, but God help you if you forget to call this person "Doctor."

    But this kind of doctorate is not illegal, it gives you some increased opportunities to teach as an adjunct or more, and it could help you feel more fulfilled and committed to your profession. If this is enough for you, go for your PhD in Human Services and keep us posted on how things go.
    Steve
    B.A., psychology and philosophy, St. Mary's College of Minnesota
    Master of Public Policy & Administration, Northwestern University
    (in progress) Ph.D./A.M., Social Service Administration, The University of Chicago

  5. #5
    PatsFan is offline Registered User
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    Hi James,

    I have an MSW and had wanted a doctorate, but had no interest in becoming a psychologist . I decided on a DMin in pastoral counseling to integrate my social work training and past graduate work in theology. The DMin afforded me an academinc opportunity, and increases my marketablility as a pastoral counselor in private practice. There also may be some teaching opportunities with this degree.

    Once you decide what you want to do with the doctorate you may find there are numerous opportunities, many of which offer convenient distance learning and minimal residencies. Good luck.

    Tom

    (MSW , University of Connecticut)

  6. #6
    simon is offline Registered User
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    Originally posted by fortiterinre
    I have only met one person working on a doctorate in human services (Capella ), and she cheerfully admitted that it was basically for both personal and professional prestige, period. She already has master's level clinical licensure in counseling and her agency does not need and will not pay her as a licensed clinical psychologist , but she wants the personal satisfaction of being the first in her family to earn a doctorate and I'm sure to be addressed as "Doctor." I personally think this is perfectly fine.

    I agree with the above that going from an MSW to a PsyD is essentially a career change, whether or not you are license-eligible, and a license ineligible PsyD might not be a help at all, as regs are so strict about what you represent yourself as. Human services also has a clinical, direct-service nature or feel to it that organizational development and other less health-centered fields lack. "Noted psychotherapist Dr. James Cumming" doesn't break any laws--and it certainly has a nice ring to it!

    This might well be considered a transparent end-run to avoid the requirements of licensure as a psychologist and is exactly why many will advise against a doctorate in human services (along with ongoing debate about how to define "human services" as a field). In conventional health care circles only psychiatrists and psychologists are regularly addressed as "Doctor," and the latter sometimes less consistently than they would like. I know another person who has both an M.A. and a PhD in Art Therapy--art therapy is "registered" at the master's level, and they can also become licensed counselors at this level too, but God help you if you forget to call this person "Doctor."

    But this kind of doctorate is not illegal, it gives you some increased opportunities to teach as an adjunct or more, and it could help you feel more fulfilled and committed to your profession. If this is enough for you, go for your PhD in Human Services and keep us posted on how things go.

    We should keep in mind that the level of ambition and entrepreneurial mindset of the Clinical Psychologist or Human Service doctorate holder may be of more significance than the degree they possess. In other words, earning a doctorate in Clinical Psychology does not automatically guarantee economic or professional sucess. I know of a number of Clinical Psychologists who are earning a decent wage but nothing spectacular while several other colleagues who earned "name it and frame it" interdisciplinary doctoral degrees from the Union Institute and who are very enterprising, are doing extraordinarily well financially.

    Yes, if one is planning to only be a Clinician, a doctorate in Clinical Psychology has more clout and prestige in the mental health discipline hierarchy, with the exception of Psychiatry. However, we cannot generalize and state that a doctorate in Human Services does is not lead to success. The presence of an enterprising/business mentality can be the deciding factor in terms of what one can do with a doctorate such as one in Human Services.
    Last edited by simon; 11-08-2005 at 07:53 PM.

  7. #7
    fortiterinre is offline Registered User
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    Well said, Simon. I am always surprised that there does not seem to be more of a therapy market for human services/social work credentials where the stigma associated with abnormal psychology and mental illness treated by psychiatrists and psychologists is perhaps less apparent. "Psychotherapist" has become the catch-all term for lots of fields, somewhat ironically I think.
    Steve
    B.A., psychology and philosophy, St. Mary's College of Minnesota
    Master of Public Policy & Administration, Northwestern University
    (in progress) Ph.D./A.M., Social Service Administration, The University of Chicago

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  9. #8
    P. Kristian Mose is offline Registered User
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    Come to Canada. With a US doctorate in human services, our civil service -- whether federal or provincial -- would be delighted to have you pushing papers at a hefty salary. You might even find the work meaningful.

    We are a socialistic nation, at least compared to the US, and this requires oodles of people with skills in this area. Moreover, our economy is doing just fine at present. (Although this could well shift by the time you get your degree and show up at the border.)

    Peter

  10. #9
    simon is offline Registered User
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    Originally posted by fortiterinre
    Well said, Simon. I am always surprised that there does not seem to be more of a therapy market for human services/social work credentials where the stigma associated with abnormal psychology and mental illness treated by psychiatrists and psychologists is perhaps less apparent. "Psychotherapist" has become the catch-all term for lots of fields, somewhat ironically I think.

    I recently spoke with a chair of a clinical psychology program regarding this very subject. We agreed that in many cases clients do not inquire regarding the clinical discipline of the clinician. Although we live in a more medically sophisticated world, it also appears that many clients do not know the difference between a psychologist or Psychiatrist. Therefore, if one possesses a masters degree in a clinical area such as social work as well as state licensure and has the business and marketing skills required for private practice, a doctorate in a field such as human services can potentially enhance their practice as well as provide them with more clout in their professional interactions with peers.

  11. #10
    SteveFoerster is offline Resident Gadfly
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    Originally posted by P. Kristian Mose
    Come to Canada. With a US doctorate in human services, our civil service -- whether federal or provincial -- would be delighted to have you pushing papers at a hefty salary. You might even find the work meaningful.

    Interesting -- and how interested is the Canadian university system in recruiting American EdD holders as administrators?

    We are a socialistic nation, at least compared to the US, and this requires oodles of people with skills in this area. Moreover, our economy is doing just fine at present. (Although this could well shift by the time you get your degree and show up at the border.)

    With all the wealth to be dredged from the oil sands of Alberta, I'd think that not only will the Canadian economy keep thriving, but could even start seriously attracting some of those leftist Americans who joked they were going to Canada after the 2004 elections here. Becareful what you wish for, Peter! :)

    -=Steve=-
    BS, Info Sys concentration, Charter Oak State College
    MA in Educational Tech, George Washington University
    PhD in Leadership, U. of the Cumberlands (in progress)
    More at http://stevefoerster.com

  12. #11
    BlackBird is offline Registered User
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    Originally posted by simon



    I recently spoke with a chair of a clinical psychology program regarding this very subject. We agreed that in many cases clients do not inquire regarding the clinical discipline of the clinician. Although we live in a more medically sophisticated world, it also appears that many clients do not know the difference between a psychologist or Psychiatrist. Therefore, if one possesses a masters degree in a clinical area such as social work as well as state licensure and has the business and marketing skills required for private practice, a doctorate in a field such as human services can potentially enhance their practice as well as provide them with more clout in their professional interactions with peers.

    Well said, Simon.

    That is exactly what I have been doing. My masters is in Counseling Psychology that makes me licensure capable. I have no desire to become an expert in test-giving psychologically since I do quite well without having to use them, plus the burnout level in giving psychological tests is high. Hence, I went to a Ph.D. in psychology with a specialization in Family Psychology . That gives me the marketing , professional, and academic clout I need. It gives me more expertise academically in the field of Family Therapy. It qualifies me more for a second licensure in Family therapy if I want, plus the Ph.D. says the word "Psychology " even though I'm not a "psychologist ." It opens a lot of doors.

    Capella should be added to the list of Ph.D. programs in Psychology besides a standard Psy.D. licensure based program.

    Last edited by BlackBird; 11-09-2005 at 07:53 AM.
    BLACKBIRD
    MA Counseling Psychology, Trinity International University
    Ph.D. Family Psychology, Capella University
    Private Counseling Practice/Adjunct Professor
    http://www.DrSam.tv

  13. #12
    PhD2B is offline Dazed and Confused
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    Originally posted by BlackBird
    ...plus the Ph.D. says the word "Psychology" even though I'm not a "psychologist." It opens a lot of doors.
    I have often wondered about this for other degree programs as well.

    Is it more important to earn a degree with the "proper" wording in the title or is just as good to earn a degree in another field with a similar specialization.

    I ask this because I am an operations research analyst and I would love to earn a PhD in operations research (OR), but there are no local or DL RA options available. The only DL PhD degree in OR that I've seen is offered by UNISA. If I go with UNISA, then we get into the whole accreditation issue and the acceptance of such a degree in the U.S.

    On the other hand, NCU offers a PhD in business administration with a specialization in business quantitative methods (BQM). It's not exactly OR but it is as close to OR as I can find. I'm not unhappy with the program except for the fact that the degree is in business [IMO, a technicality]. I also know that I could conceivably do an OR or OR focused dissertation and ultimately list a PhD in BQM on my resume once I finish.

    I guess my question is, given that I am an operations research analyst and I think a recognized accreditation source is important [especially in the U.S.], would a degree with the “proper” title (i.e. a PhD in OR) fare better from a university like UNISA as opposed to a PhD in BA with a BQM specialization and an OR [or OR related] dissertation from NCU?

    Sorry to hijack the thread, however I would appreciate any thoughts on the topic.
    BS, Mathematics – Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP)
    MS, Operations Research – Florida Institute of Technology (FIT)
    MS, Information Systems – Dakota State University (DSU)

  14. #13
    PatsFan is offline Registered User
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    Originally posted by BlackBird
    It gives me more expertise academically in the field of Family Therapy. It qualifies me more for a second licensure in Family therapy if I want, plus the Ph.D. says the word "Psychology " even though I'm not a "psychologist ." It opens a lot of doors.

    Capella should be added to the list of Ph.D. programs in Psychology besides a standard Psy.D. licensure based program.

    [/COLOR] [/B]
    I like the rationale for the steps you've taken. But should a state licensing board or the APA be the only entities to define what it means to be a psychologist . It sounds like this program will make you a psychologist , just not qualified to be licensed as a psycholgist. Maybe I'm looking at it wrong, though? Good luck!

    Tom

  15. #14
    fortiterinre is offline Registered User
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    Originally posted by PatsFan


    I like the rationale for the steps you've taken. But should a state licensing board or the APA be the only entities to define what it means to be a psychologist . It sounds like this program will make you a psychologist , just not qualified to be licensed as a psycholgist. Maybe I'm looking at it wrong, though? Good luck!

    Tom
    I think Tom the PatsFan has the ideal situation--a doctorate in pastoral counseling will probably never be licensed, since the state does not want to define religious-in-nature counseling . But the doctorate directly aids your ability to be such a religious counselor, while your clinical social work license will allow you to bill everyone and anyone. Unlike a human services doctorate, your degree is specific enough to have clear value even though it is ineligible for licensure (but I suspect you spend half your day explaining that D.Min. stands for "Doctor of Ministry!")

    But I would be SO VERY CAREFUL at earning a "doctorate in psychology " without every calling yourself a "psychologist ," because you can get in so much trouble if you do it even once by accident. To show my dedication to DegreeInfo, I did a quick review of the licensure disciplinary actions by the state of Illinois in 2004 and 2005 against clinical psychologists , and literally one third to one half of them were for "practicing while unlicensed" (Most of the rest were about sex, but that's a different thread!). One person was disciplined as a masters' level Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor for referring to herself as a "psychologist " in her work history for the license application--I presume that was her actual job title, and she was still disciplined!
    Steve
    B.A., psychology and philosophy, St. Mary's College of Minnesota
    Master of Public Policy & Administration, Northwestern University
    (in progress) Ph.D./A.M., Social Service Administration, The University of Chicago

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  17. #15
    David Williams is offline Registered User
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    Hello Jim its good to hear from you again.

    First let me say I'm disappointed Fielding failed to pan out and thanks for your kind words. I hope you find a path that leads to as rewarding career as I've had. IT drew me to the 'board' while I was earning an online BS although I mostly post about healthcare and mental health training nowadays.

    My father went into the Army during WWII as an E-1 and he retired as a major with a field commission. A world class listener -- although he was never one to offer unsolicited advice -- he issued these words of wisdom which I think of as Ivor's Dicta the day before I left for basic training.

    Don't be first.
    Don't be last.
    Volunteer for nothing and whatever else you do don't let the sergeant know your name.

    I need to compact the lessons I've learned about (small c) clinical psychology the way my father did the military but as yet I haven't. More than anything what drives me to post is the hassle and disappointment I encountered after I made a couple of self-defeating decisions. I like to think others benefit from my experience.

    I hope Howard Rogers reads this and sees fit to post; I suspect he has something useful contribute to your question. If not it might be worth sending him a PM.

    As always, best of luck.

    David

  18. #16
    simon is offline Registered User
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    In relation to making a major educational decision as to whether to enter a clinical psychology , human services or any other doctoral program it is essential that the poster primarily start this exploration by gaining an understanding of THEIR educational/career interests, passions, goals, needs, work related value preferences, aptitudes and orientation towards research activities as well as other intrinsic factors that will lead to career satisfaction. In addition, it is important to be clear as to one's level of readiness to committ the time, energy and money that is required to successfully complete a doctoral program.

    Obviously it is important to obtain feedback and input from others who are involved in these professions to ascertain if their experiences are consonant with one's educational/career needs, interests and goals. However, it is important to be cognizant that merely learning from others or being advised that a particular profession may possibly lead to more career opportunities is not sufficient to make a major life decision such as selecting a suitable doctoral program. In fact, even if one learns that a particular field may lead to inordinate amounts of earnings or career opportunities, if the person is not really interested in the work tasks and functions associated with this profession or it is not congruent with their personal style or typology, this will not lead to a good career 'fit' and adjustment.
    Last edited by simon; 11-09-2005 at 07:27 PM.

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