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Old 07-05-2014, 12:25 PM
 
Location: Middle America
35,821 posts, read 39,387,870 times
Reputation: 48621

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I am currently determining what route to go to start a master's program, something I have been mulling over to some degree or another for several years. While the final decision will ultimately obviously rest with me, I am trying to examine all angles in order to make the best decision for myself, and would value insights from others who may have been there themselves.

A little about me:

-Experienced educator who has worked with a variety of age levels. K-12 dual certification (Reading/English and Special Education).

-Currently teaching in (and enjoying working in) an early childhood setting at a military base (short-term military orders that don't justify the effort and cost of transferring K-12 certification from one state to another).

-Previous teaching positions have largely been one-on-one, small group ratio, pull-out situations for students who struggle due to developmental disability and/or behavioral issues related to developmental and/or mental health issues. I prefer small group situations to large classroom situations, because my strengths lie in highly individualizing instruction for optimum student learning.

-Much experience with adolescents with emotional/behavioral issues.

-Literacy is an area of enormous personal and professional interest.

-Development of appropriate social skills is of enormous personal and professional interest.

-Much experience working in an ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) setting, developing IEPs and behavioral plans for students utilizing ABA therapy. Very familiar with the principles of applied behavior analysis, but not a board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA), and not particularly desiring of gaining the certification.

I have typically worked in schools and centers that are not traditional schools (longest stretch at a private, therapeutic alternative facility for students who exhibit extreme behavior), and have never had much interest in working in traditional schools in a traditional teaching role. I have enjoyed working with teens, in particular, but recent circumstances (I am a military spouse, and my husband's current orders have brought me to a place where the most convenient and easily accessible position was in an early childhood center) have highlighted to me that it is enlightening to work with children earlier on in their development, as well. When I worked with emotionally and behaviorally disordered teens, teens with developmental disabilities, I often thought, "If only I could have "gotten" them earlier, before so much of this problematic behavior was so ingrained," and now, I am in the position to address red flags earlier on. Same with reading/literacy. I would often get students and have to deal with issues that should have been addressed much earlier on...now I can work on those things earlier on.

I am in a position where I may be staring a master's degree in the next year if I choose, and am sorting out in my mind what direction I want to go with it. A continued degree in some branch of ed is always an option, but so, too, are master's programs in areas like special services including speech language pathology and occupational therapy. I have worked with SLPs and OTs quite closely, and several have expressed that they think I'd be a good fit for the fields. These fields also have the advantage (for me) of allowing me to focus on individual students and small groups of students, which is my preference and forte. My time with children/teens with behavioral issues and emotional issues also has me entertaining thoughts of further study in child or adolescent psych/counseling, and most work if I obtain this degree would likely be at children's hospitals and treatment facilities, which is fine by me, as well...I am not married to staying in schools.

Cost is a consideration in the abstract, but not a huge one (I will be using my husband's transferred GI Bill benefits, in part). What school to attend is not an issue at this point. My prime consideration is narrowing my focus to determine which path to explore.

No specific questions, just basically looking for experiences, input from others who work in/have interest in these areas, as I continue to mull over what my future area of focus will be.

Kudos in advance to anyone who has read this much, and considered my words. I've encapsulated a lot of information, here, so if anybody has any questions, feel free to ask. I appreciate any helpful input.
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Old 07-05-2014, 12:54 PM
 
6,763 posts, read 9,752,987 times
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I don't know if I missed this in your post, but you haven't thought about becoming a school counselor or school psychologist? Child life specialist is another related field where you'll be mostly working in hospitals, but it does not require a masters degree. Another option is to become a social worker which will allow you to work in a variety of settings. SLP and OT, however, will likely earn you a much higher salary.

I have considered these careers in the past, but I'm now on the route of becoming a licensed chemical dependency counselor. I kind of got stuck in the criminal justice field, so the LCDC credential will be the easiest for me to grab.
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Old 07-05-2014, 03:20 PM
 
Location: Middle America
35,821 posts, read 39,387,870 times
Reputation: 48621
Another option that has come to my attention is a position specific to military bases, which is a Military Family Life counselor...they work closely with issues specific to military children and families... things like difficulty adjusting to a transient lifestyle, family stress that is unique to parents' military status, deployment and reintegration issues, etc. But that one is only really marketable as long as you are in or near military base communities. I do work with some people in this role.
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Old 07-05-2014, 05:57 PM
 
Location: Middle America
35,821 posts, read 39,387,870 times
Reputation: 48621
Quote:
Originally Posted by L210 View Post
I don't know if I missed this in your post, but you haven't thought about becoming a school counselor or school psychologist? Child life specialist is another related field where you'll be mostly working in hospitals, but it does not require a masters degree. Another option is to become a social worker which will allow you to work in a variety of settings. SLP and OT, however, will likely earn you a much higher salary.

I have considered these careers in the past, but I'm now on the route of becoming a licensed chemical dependency counselor. I kind of got stuck in the criminal justice field, so the LCDC credential will be the easiest for me to grab.
Sorry, was posting the previous post from my phone and did not see your post.

I have considered school counseling, but many programs require more years of traditional classroom teaching work than I have accrued as a prerequisite. School psychologist would likely require additional coursework, given that my bachelor's is not in psych. I don't know much about the child life specialist designation, will research.

I know many social workers, and there are aspects of the field that are pros to me and some that are significant cons. One big thing for me is that I vastly prefer direct service-oriented roles to supervisory/administrative roles, in order to make an acceptable wage as a social worker, I'd more than likely have to focus on those types of roles that do not interest me in particular. That being the case, it's hard to get excited about sinking a bunch of time and money going back to school to do it.

I am leaning a bit toward the counseling track in my mind, right now, but I would be really interested in talking with people who are employed as counselors, to ensure that I have the most realistic perspective, and not just an idea in my head that is more glorified than reality. I like to think I'm fairly realistic, but talkign to others in the know would be great.
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Old 07-06-2014, 12:13 AM
 
1,385 posts, read 1,780,396 times
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I am currently satisfying the internship requirement for my Masters of Science Addiction Counseling degree (MSAC). One important factor to consider is what the licensing requirements are in the state you reside in. Do you relocate often?
I opted for the substance abuse counseling degree because the program was quicker and the addiction field is growing rapidly compared to a License Professional Counselor (LPC) type field. When I began the program I did not understand that different states have different educational requirements. There is reciprocity in many states but not the one I want to move to!
It sounds as you have quite a portfolio and your post indicates you care for the troubled youth. With all your experience a school counseling degree or OT would probably compliment your experience, skills and passion best.
My very intelligent seven year old son for some reason a difficult time learning to read. He would memorize books so the issue was overcompensated by the memorization. I read every night so I noticed this after a while and insisted the school provide him with an intervention service. The people that helped him were: school psychologist, school counselor and the reading specialists. They were like angels from heaven for us! My next problem is that I will be moving from AZ to NoVa and I'm certain he will behind because schools here are not that great. I hate to do it but I would like to hold him back when I get there. It is better to have a solid foundation or else he will play catch up for the rest of his educational experience.
At any rate, on paper continue what do and add the advanced degree credential to it. Perhaps a counseling degree would open a door to see children privately or maybe you can contract with school districts for your time and maintain a private practice after school hours. Maybe facilitating assessments would be easy and fun?
Just some ideas! Let us know what you decide.
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Old 07-06-2014, 12:45 AM
 
Location: Middle America
35,821 posts, read 39,387,870 times
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I don't relocate state to state often, but as my spouse is military, it is always a possibility. But this is in issue for teaching certification (as I am well aware in my experiences as a teacher), SLP and OT credentials, essentially professional designation that exists in any of my areas of interest and expertise. The keeping current and certified in whatever state we happen to be in is always going to be a challenge if I want to work. Various state have reciprocity in differing degrees. Also, I'm currently in the GS system as an employee, and if I use whatever credentials to continue to work gov't jobs on bases as a civilian, the restrictions are a bit different in some cases. My husband is a reservist who has been on active duty orders, and we would like to continue on active duty orders, but there are never any guarantees that that will happen, particularly at his paygrade. If he does go back to his regular reserve status after our current set of orders, that will, as it happens, serve the function of decreasing the frequency of moves. Double-edged sword, as we enjoy being active duty. I also am learning that there is a LARGE need for the sorts of services that interest me within military communities, and that that need is largely unmet in many such communities.

A reading specialist concentration is also something I've looked into in the past, but have not, as of yet, found a program in an area where I happened to be living that particularly impressed me or suited my needs.
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Old 07-06-2014, 08:31 AM
 
6,763 posts, read 9,752,987 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TabulaRasa View Post
School psychologist would likely require additional coursework, given that my bachelor's is not in psych.
When you're searching for school psychology programs, you want to search for programs that are either APA-accredited or NASP-approved. APA only accredits doctoral degrees. NASP approves specialist and doctoral degrees. EdS and certain other specialist programs are supposed to be halfway between a masters and doctorate. So, yeah, these programs are long (a total of 60 credits including the masters in school psychology), but so are social work programs when you don't have a BSW. Graduate psychology programs generally don't require a bachelor's in psychology. At the most, they might require a few prerequisites -- definitely much less than the number of prerequisites you'll need for OT or SLP.
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Old 07-09-2014, 03:11 PM
 
Location: Dunwoody,GA
1,863 posts, read 4,557,279 times
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I have a Ph.D. in clinical psych. I guess the major question is where you would like to end up? Private practice? Inpatient work? I'll just say that the counseling/therapy part of inpatient and residential treatment is greatly reduced as opposed to how it was, say, 20 years ago. It's very difficult to form any sort of therapeutic attachment in those types of settings, as patients come and go so quickly (even in residential treatment now). The positions for counselors in the old days have morphed into positions for case managers (e.g., coordinating where the patient will go after discharge, dealing with social work issues like housing and Medicaid for families). If you want real, long-term therapy/counseling, you'll need to look into private practice, which would probably be an LCSW or LPC degree. Even college counseling centers generally involve short-term, crisis-oriented work.

You have the background to pursue an advanced degree in psychology if that's the direction you wish to seek. School psychology might be a good match. Clinical would steer you away from teaching/tutoring. You just have to refine your ultimate career goals.
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