Guest Contributor: Dr. Brock Schludecker
Don’t know about you, but recently some of my students have expressed an interest in entering into a Psy.D. program after graduation. Of course, I (Jen) think that’s great, but I have little to no information to give them on these types of programs as I earned a Ph.D. Then one day I suddenly remembered that I do know someone who earned a Psy.D.! Enter in Dr. Brock Schludecker. I reached out to him and he graciously offered to answer my student’s questions about Psy.D. programs. I learned a lot from his responses, and I thought others would too!
If I want to do more clinical work than research, is a Psy.D. program the right choice for me?
I can’t speak to the absolute “best” or “right” choice for anyone, but this certainly described me towards the end of my undergraduate career. I was interested in doing therapy (which I came to learn is only a piece of everything considered “clinical work”). As I progressed through graduate school, clinical work became an increasingly large portion of my training. This is sometimes referred to as the “practitioner-scholar” model. This is not to say that those with Psy.D. degrees do not/ cannot produce research, their training programs are generally just less oriented around producing research than Ph.D. programs (sometimes referred to as the “scientist-practitioner” model).
A metaphor that I found useful was thinking about psychology as both an “art” and a “science.” All psychologists make use of scientific concepts as well as creative practices. Just as some psychologists lean more heavily on one than the other, programs are sometimes oriented towards one. Psy.D. programs feature clinical practice as a major vehicle for learning. As such, they tend to lean towards the “art” side of things.
What made you choose to enter a PsyD program?
In college I knew two groups of psychologists: my professors and those who worked in the counseling center at my university. My professors all had Ph.Ds.; teaching was their main professional focus, and many (if not all) had conducted research. Some, but not all, had been therapists or had therapy training, but this was not the focus of their work. One Psy.D. psychologist in the counseling center was kind and patient enough to answer my questions, and the PsyD philosophy of focusing on the practice (rather than the study/ teaching) of psychology appealed to me.
At the time I had no experience with research, nor were statistics or research designs particularly intuitive to me. The most interesting classes to me were the ones that focused on the individual. As I did research on different programs and focuses within the field, I initially became interested in mental health in soldiers/ veterans. The program I was accepted to was/ is one of the only military psychology programs. While that ultimately was not the career path I pursued, throughout my training I had the opportunity to work in a diverse range of settings (public heath, inpatient, transitional living facilities) and with a broad range of clients.
Do Psy.Ds. and Ph.Ds. make the same pay?
There is a huge amount of variability in income for psychologists, mostly owning to the wide variety of settings a psychologist might work in. Within the settings I have worked (which have been entirely clinically oriented), I have not noticed much difference attributable to degree between myself and Ph.D. colleagues. That being said, some really financially lucrative positions (tenured professors at major universities, Industrial/ Organizational psychologists working for large companies) are generally not open to Psy.D. psychologists by nature of training. They might not be open to lots of Ph.D. holders as well, as these jobs can be rare and are very competitive.
Do Ph.Ds. and Psy.Ds. have the same opportunities for jobs after graduation? What line of work do PsyDs typically enter upon graduation?
Short answer, no. Some doors are pretty closed to Psy.D. folks by way of training. For example, doing research (particularly at a “publish or perish” kind of place) would be a pretty long shot for most Psy.D. holders because our training programs don’t focus on the things that would make one competitive for those positions: a research pedigree, first-authorships, relationships with labs/ other researchers etc. Teaching would also be difficult (but not impossible) for a Psy.D., particularly if the class is on clinical work and/or at a Psy.D. awarding institution.
Clinically-focused, or clinically-adjacent is the best way I can think to describe the work Psy.Ds. do. To my knowledge, anywhere testing or therapy is happening, a Psy.D. could be doing it. There are also a number of administrative roles Psy.Ds. may find themselves in as well.
Come back tomorrow for more information from Brock about Psy.D. programs!
Hi, I'm Brock Schludecker (he/him), a psychologist in private practice in Columbus, Ohio. I graduated from Adler University in 2017 with a Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology focusing on Drug and Alcohol Treatment. I have worked in a number of settings, including community mental health, inpatient drug treatment, corrections, and college counseling. I like that my work allows me to continuously learn, and I enjoy even more watching my clients learn more about themselves.