Study Psychology in the US

The Psy.D. Model of Training for Psychologists

In 1973, the American Psychological Association at its ‘Conference on Levels and Patterns of Professional Training in Psychology’ (The Vail Conference), endorsed the Doctor of Psychology degree (Psy.D.), indicating support for professional training that would be responsive to society’s need for psychologists to function in a variety of practitioner roles. Before this period, professional training for psychologists followed ‘The Boulder Model,’ in which a psychologist earned a Ph.D. for competence both as a scientist and as a professional. The Boulder Model’s ability to prepare its graduates for academic and research positions was unquestioned, but there was a growing skepticism concerning its ability to prepare them for clinical work. The Vail Conference recognized that the development of psychological science had sufficiently matured to justify the creation of explicitly professional programs, in addition to programs for training scientists and scientist-professionals. These professional programs would be designated by the awarding of the Psy.D. degree. The Ph.D. and the Psy.D. would now stand together as two different paths by which to be trained as a psychologist.

Study Psychology in the US

In today’s educational marketplace, both of these doctorate degrees in psychology exist in a wide variety of educational settings. Students looking to be trained as psychologists often have several questions about which of these is the right path for them. What is the difference between these two degrees? Am I considered a psychologist if I get a Psy.D. degree? Are Psy.D. programs accredited? What types of work can I expect to do with a Psy.D degree?

What is the difference between these two degrees?

The Psy.D. and the Ph.D. are both degrees that are used to train psychologists. The American Psychological Association evaluates schools that award either degree to make certain schools meet its rigorous standards for accreditation.

The major difference between the two degrees is a stronger emphasis on research in a Ph.D. program as a major focus of training, and a stronger emphasis in Psy.D. programs on practice. The difference is in the method of training; often psychologists trained in either degree do similar work.

Are Psy.D. programs accredited?

There are a variety of institutions that accredit training programs. For psychologists, one of the most important ones, recognized worldwide, is the American Psychological Association (APA). APA is well respected for its high and rigorous standards for accreditation, and accredits Psy.D. programs as well as Ph.D. programs.

What kind of work can I expect to do with a Psy.D. degree?

People with Psy.D. degrees are psychologists, and can do any work that psychologists do. Since Psy.D. training is geared toward learning to be a practitioner, many Psy.D.-educated psychologists do at least some of their work in clinical settings. Psy.D.-trained psychologists work in fields as diverse as private practice, hospitals, corporations, disaster relief centers, outpatient clinics, community mental health centers, schools and colleges, to name a few.

In today’s world people are presented with numerous educational options. People deciding to train to become psychologists are fortunate, as there are numerous ways to achieve this goal, depending on the interests of the student. The Psy.D. degree offers one way that the students interested in an educational model that stresses the development of the psychologist as clinical practitioner can be trained.

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