Becoming a Psychotherapist: California vs Oregon vs Washington vs BC
November 7, 2018 12:57 AM   Subscribe

I’m preparing to start a Master’s in Counseling Psychology, and looking at schools in San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver BC. Which of these has the best career prospects? Licensure, job opportunities... thanks in advance!
posted by hot_tea to Work & Money (11 answers total)
Aleast for social workers California has some of the strictest licensing requirements in the country, for the clinical licensure and if you want to work there it is best to start there. Simply because basically you have to start over with your supervised hours otherwise. Good news is that the licensure will transfer out easily. If you have any plans to ever live in California and work, you might want to start there.
posted by AlexiaSky at 1:46 AM on November 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

If you're looking at becoming a licensed MFT, California's licensing doesn't transfer out as easily (California is quirky about its MFT licensing). It sounds like you're wanting to go to school in the place where you'll want to stay and work, which is good, but do keep in mind that therapy licenses are generally state-based and sometimes hard to move with. Some states do have more reciprocal MFT licensing requirements, so you might want to look into that if you have any plans of ever moving while still in working age.

I would assume that studying in Canada would create much larger issues if you ever wanted to practice in the US, but that's an assumption.
posted by lazuli at 6:16 AM on November 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Yeah. You want to work backwards here. Where do you want to work? Each state has its own licensing board, and while you’re doing your internship you’ll earn hours towards your licensure.

Good news is that the licensure will transfer out easily.

This entirely depends on where your license is from, and where you’re trying to transfer it to. Licensure reciprocity is very convoluted, and most states don’t have reciprocity. My wife can work in Oregon, New Hampshire and Maine, but she’s have to start over if she wanted to get licensure in Washington, Massachusetts and Califorina (the only places we’ve checked at least). CA and OR do not have reciprocity with each other, in either direction. Oregon does has “partial” reciprocity with Washington, but Washington does not have reciprocity with Oregon. It’s a hot mess, and gets complicated fast.

And unless you can legally work in Canada, I would scratch that off the list.

I’ve talked about this before, over here on this thread. Much of it still holds true. Oregon has a ton of schools pumping out grads in the area, and it makes the job market tough, especially in the city. Government jobs are flooded with qualified applicants and regular agency positions fill up very fast (and don’t pay that great).
posted by furnace.heart at 6:26 AM on November 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Do we know much about the prospects in Seattle?
posted by hot_tea at 8:12 AM on November 7, 2018

I think you need to take a minute to evaluate what you actually want to do and how you should best achieve that. Your first step is to search for "psychology license XXX" where XXX is the place you want to get the license. For instance, reading quickly, it does not seem that you can become a licensed psychologist in WA without a PhD. In other jurisdictions, OR and CA among them, you can get a psychology license with a Masters, but you must practice under the supervision of someone else who has a doctorate. [This requirement is, broadly, the difference between an "independent" license and a "non-independent" license.] The rules for how close the supervision has to be differ from state to state. In some places you would have to have a supervising psychologist sign all of your notes for your entire career if you don't have an independent license. Unless you plan to go on to get a PhD, I think Masters in Psychology are essentially a scam.

I know I'm biased, because I'm a clinical social worker, but I think you are better off getting your education in a field where the Masters is a terminal degree. This includes social work, counseling, and marriage and family therapy (if your state supports licensed LMFTs). The post-graduate work progression then has you start with a non-independent license, and do supervised work until you can apply for your independent license. Once you obtain your independent license you usually are able to practice completely on your own, without oversight from anyone else.

BTW, the information you want is the information promulgated by the "Board of Psychology" (or other discipline) in the state you are interested in. If you do not practice within the scope of the license they define they can take your license away and you will not be able to practice. The boards usually have FAQs or lists of requirements that will detail what is required for a license.

PS: Oops, just read a bit further, and your Masters in psych would only be good for a license in CA if you are enrolled in a PhD program. IOW, they don't consider Masters in psych to be licensable.
posted by OmieWise at 5:53 AM on November 8, 2018

A Master's in Counseling Psychology is generally what's required to pursue licensing as an MFT in California (and possibly as a LPCC, but I don't know those requirements well, as it's new for the state). It is absolutely a licensable degree for a master's-level therapist in California. I have a Master's in Counseling Psychology and I am a licensed marriage and family therapist in California.

As you can see, though, state laws are confusing and the terminology is not always the same among them! In California, it's the Board of Behavioral Science that governs master's-level counseling/therapy. The Board of Psychology is only for Ph.D./Psy.D-level counseling/therapy.
posted by lazuli at 6:02 AM on November 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: OmieWise, I think you misunderstood my question. It is absolutely possible for a Masters in Counseling Psychology to be a terminal degree that leads to independent licensure and practice, which is exactly what the programs I’m researching will offer in each of the cities I mentioned.
posted by hot_tea at 6:19 AM on November 8, 2018

Response by poster: Example: the Counseling Psychology MA I’m considering in California has both MFT and LPCC tracks of coursework, depending on which I choose. The state laws are indeed confusing and the terminology is not always the same among them.

However, I do not need tips or guidance as to which field or license to pursue. Let’s please refocus on my actual inquiry: Which of the cities I mentioned has the best career prospects at this level?
posted by hot_tea at 6:23 AM on November 8, 2018

One option is to go to psychology today and do a count of all the therapists in each city and then calculate the % of the population. My sense is that San Fransisco has a lot therapists per capita although it is also a population that is a little more favorable for an eventual private practice. Are you willing to move within California or are you particularly interested in San Francisco?
posted by metahawk at 8:41 PM on November 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: metahawk, if I’m in California for this purpose, I’ll be in San Francisco or a nearby city.
posted by hot_tea at 2:41 AM on November 9, 2018

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