Is an MA in Transpersonal Psychology worth the cost?
July 31, 2014 3:27 PM   Subscribe

How can my friend increase her earnings in the alternative health field?

I have a friend in the northeast US who is in the alternative health field. She’s currently living paycheck to paycheck and wants to increase her earning potential. Her main interests are in yoga, meditation/mindfulness, herbalism, daily ritual, music, and wilderness therapy. The Transpersonal Psychology MA at Naropa University seems tailor fit for what she wants to do, but she’s wondering if there are better options for her. Should she instead pursue a degree in social work or clinical psychology? The thought doesn’t thrill her and she doesn’t want to go into debt, which she would have to, were she to pursue more formal education. Should she be pursuing more training, i.e. yoga teacher training, meditation teacher, certified community herbalist, wellness coach, instead?

How can she increase her earnings in the alternative health field? Any suggestions for her are appreciated.
posted by release the hardwoods! to Work & Money (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
To be frank, a normal graduate degree in social work or clinical psychology is barely worth the cost - let alone a degree that is vague about what the path from "Degree completion" to "Licensure" is and states explicitly that they haven't sought CACREP evaluation.
posted by Metafilter Username at 3:37 PM on July 31, 2014

Is she looking to get licensed as a therapist? MAs in counseling psychology are usually geared toward becoming a licensed therapist, which usually requires not just specific coursework (which the Naropa website is a bit coy about) and a master's degree but also post-graduate work (usually two to three years) as an intern in order to qualify to take the licensing exam.

If she's not looking to continue on and get licensed as a therapist of some sort, I'm not sure what the master's degree will gain her.
posted by jaguar at 3:38 PM on July 31, 2014

What does she do in that area now? If she's a solo practitioner a decent marketing plan might help her bring in more revenue.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 3:41 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Should she be pursuing more training, i.e. yoga teacher training, meditation teacher, certified community herbalist, wellness coach, instead?

And yes, if she wants to work in those fields, she should pursue training in those fields, not in counseling.
posted by jaguar at 3:43 PM on July 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

The only thing that will increase her income if she stays in the alternative health field is fame. Additional training in those fields and/or degrees in that field are not very good paths to fame. The two most common paths to fame in this area are celebrity clients and popular published articles/books/websites, etc. (Though, YouTube fame is coming up a fast 3rd.) I would recommend some writing training, or if she feels confident as a writer, more time devoted to writing and trying to publish articles and essays on her field. 2nd recommendation would be heavy duty social media engagement. A graduate program in writing and/or new media might be worth it, but Naropa's transpersonal degree would not.
posted by hworth at 4:09 PM on July 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

Seriously, she could do (and make) more with one of the physical therapies, and probably study yoga in India for the price of that course.
posted by cotton dress sock at 4:41 PM on July 31, 2014

Is your friend interested in doing actual psychotherapy or something more like life coaching? If it's the former, I would not touch a program that doesn't guarantee licensure. It's worth contacting the school to try to get some concrete information but their website gives me the impression that the chances are pretty slim. If you're not able to become licensed you're pretty much stuck doing bachelor-level work, so it'd be a huge waste of money.

I think the mental health field these days is pretty open minded towards meditation and mindfulness and such, but if a social work/clinical psychology/mental health counseling degree is not for her she could try one of the expressive therapies or even occupational or physical therapy. I'm sure there are schools out there with a bent towards alternative health. The field for the expressive therapies is not as robust as it is for social workers or psychologists so finding a full time gig might be a little tough depending on where she is, but a part time job at a hospital or something in addition to her other work would probably work well.
posted by fox problems at 5:09 PM on July 31, 2014

I graduated from a school very similar to Naropa. My degree is in expressive therapy (art therapy) and, contrary to what many people assume, I had excellent job prospects because I completed a dual track in school and the expressive therapy part of my education set me apart from others who graduated from a traditional program. If I wasn't already in debt from undergrad and incurred more debt in graduate school, I would have been fine career-wise. I made poor financial choices and didn't consider the fact that an internship would never pay enough to cover the student loans I took out. Having said that, I went to school with several individuals who worked full-time, incurred no debt, found part-time jobs in the field while they were in school, and had an internship waiting for them when they graduated. If you do it right, a program in transpersonal psychology can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Is it expensive? Yes. But you can't really put a price on choosing the right path for your life. I don't regret my education for a minute. I do regret the way I went about it financially.

Having said that, your friend should be smart about it - make sure the program is accredited for counseling or social work, and try not to incur more debt than she can afford. LCSW's have the best job prospects from what I've seen. They are highly respected in their field and can work in a number of environments, largely in part because insurance covers services rendered. MFT's and LPCC's may have a harder time - I know this is the case re: insurance in CA.

Your friend might do well to interview people in the field. People are busy, but in my experience, you can reach out and there are folks out there who are happy to help and honest about their jobs, what they do/don't like, what they didn't expect, etc.

As a side note, no school "guarantees licensure" - the only way to be licensed is to go to an accredited school and follow the rules for the licensure process for the state that you intend to live in. Every state is different in this regard; the school can be in any state as long as it's accredited.

MeMail me if you'd like to pass along my info to your friend. I'd be happy to answer any questions she may have.
posted by onecircleaday at 7:40 PM on July 31, 2014

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