Grad School - Psychology Question

I am exploring the idea of becoming a clinical child psychologist.

How do I begin the search for a graduate school?

How do I become prepared for a psych graduate program?

I have a Liberal Arts BA and a Communications BS from the University of Texas - Austin, and currently reside in Chicago.

Geography is not the most important criteria for me. Getting into a good program is.

Where can I volunteer in this field?

Are there any practicing child psychologists here who can give me an idea of what the field is like?

Thanks. Any info or direction you can give is helpful.

Oops missed this one. There are a few of us on the boards who are psychologists…Tho not clinical I did enter, complete graduate school through dissertation…My advice if you are looking into clinical psych…would be to seek out an MSW (master of Socialwork) and become a therapist. As for volunteering…you may look to a group like easter seals or some other non-profit…But they would want credentials for anything paid.
I’m in a bit of a rush…email me if you have more pointed Q’s.

IWACPGS. The first step for me was acquiring a book called Insider’s Guide to Graduate Programs in Clinical and Counseling Psychology by professor Michael Sayette et al. Check Amazon, there is an '04 - '05 edition. This book details every Clinincal Psych grad program in the United States, and provides very useful advice about how to prepare for and get into graduate school. This book was my bible in the last couple of years of undergraduate school.

The field is enormous. Most programs quite decisively emphasize either research or practice. It sounds like you’re more interested in practice. That will narrow your range of options to a number most people can handle.

When I was applying to graduate school (this was years ago) I noted that schools with an emphasis on practice tended to cost a great deal more, while research-based schools would even give you a stipend. This may or may not be true anymore, but it’s all in the book.

The best way to be prepared is to already have done a lot of the same sort of work as a graduate student. Read lots of articles. Find an expert who you can bounce ideas off of. Volunteering is a good way to get access to some of these people, and get your foot in the door with some counseling experience, but again I think it’s vital to have support and feedback from an expert on your work. This should be somebody who knows a lot about tmany different ideas in the field and is willing to direct you to resources that will teach you a lot about the field.

This will give you experience which helps your application, people who can write letters of recommendation, and (very importantly) a clear sense as to whether you really want to go to graduate school in clinical psychology.

I’d advise that when you do approach your graduate school application, you be able to discuss many different points of view in practice, feel comfortable with ideas in applying research to practice, know exactly what kind of day-to-day work you’ll be doing, and have a working idea of something highly specific that you might want to write a thesis on. It’s not a commitment, but it means when you get your foot in the door it’s already a step toward the goal.

That’s good. And if you can live in Chicago, at least you know ahead of time what a cold climate is gonna be like.

Can’t give you any names, but be persistent and cast a broad net. You’ve got a resource I didn’t have in my day: the world wide web.

Best of luck to you.

PS As you may have guessed, I did not finish grad school in clinical psych. Why? Because I didn’t follow most of my own advice. I did have a terrific mentor in undergrad, and a terrific advisor in grad school. But I didn’t really examine myself for whether I really wanted to do this and the result was… well, just kinda sad. I went on to find something else that suited me better. But if you’re sure that you want that PhD like your next breath, I’m sure the results will be very different for you.

Phlosphr and Engywook:

Thank you so much. I’m just coming to realize that I want to find a career that fits my personality, which is both social/emotionally sensitive and intellectually curious. I like to figure out how/why things work are are as they are, and helping people become healthy and fufilled. I’m thinking of working with children as opposed to adults because, well, I like children better.

Your guidance and thoughts have been very helpful. Thanks for taking the time to give me your feedback.

Best to you!