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What is Psychology?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the top three industries in Kentucky are educational services, healthcare, and social assistance. The state has roughly 340 psychiatric aides and 130 psychiatrists, though they may or may not fall into the social assistance subset. No matter which industry they fall under, workers all over the state can make use of excellent mental health aid. And, with the pandemic and the increase in substance abuse throughout the country, Kentucky has every reason to increase the number of counselors and mental health specialists available.

In Kentucky, the demand for more psychology professionals is only expected to grow in the coming years. Research from the BLS suggests that there will be more than 25,000 new jobs for psychology professionals between 2018 and 2028. So, it’s important that the state offers useful college degrees and paths to licensure for future psychology students. More specifically, the American Journal of Preventative Medicine predicts that there will be an increasing demand of psychology professionals in rural communities, which includes many parts of Kentucky. As a result, many Kentucky colleges are offering psychology programs that focus on teaching students how to work in rural, underserved communities. In the future, many experts predict that rural mental health will become even more important.

A psychology professional is someone who cares deeply about improving people’s overall lives. These professionals can help many different types of people and they may treat a wide range of mental disorders. As result, the best psychology professionals are empathetic, patient, and trustworthy.

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Psychology Education in Kentucky

Associate Degree in Psychology (AS)

An associate psychology degree is the perfect choice for people who want to explore the psychology field to discover whether or not they would enjoy a psychology or counseling career. During these programs, students will study many introductory psychology topics such as research methods, developmental psychology, abnormal psychology, and the psychology of aging.

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Students who complete these programs will be prepared to work as a social worker assistant, psychiatric technician, or psychiatric nursing aide, though they cannot, with this degree, work with counseling clients one-on-one. Depending on the school, students can pursue online or on-campus options for an associate psychology degree. Students who would like to earn this specific degree should consider attending Bluegrass Community and Technical College or the University of the Cumberlands.

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Bachelor's Degree in Psychology (BS)

A bachelor’s psychology degree is the perfect choice for people who want to obtain an entry-level position in psychology. When psychology students pursue this excellent undergraduate degree, they’ll gain a firm grasp of psychology key concepts such as applied behavior analysis, learning/cognition, and human development.

Psychology students who receive this type of undergraduate degree usually have options to obtain one of a wide variety of entry-level positions such as rehabilitation counselor, criminal profiler, mental health counselor, psychology consultant, and many more. Some of the best psychology colleges in Kentucky offering a bachelor’s degree include University of Louisville, Kentucky State University, University of Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky University, Western Kentucky University, and Kentucky Wesleyan College. Many of these schools also offer convenient online options of this specific degree.

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Master's Degree in Psychology (MS or MC)

A master’s psychology degree is specifically designed for students who would like to advance their psychology careers in research or gain access to private practice as counselors of all kinds. During graduate psychology programs, students will learn all about research methodologies, cognitive behavioral therapy, behavioral activation, and mental health administration.

There are a number of positions that people with this degree can hold including clinical psychologist, school counselor, human resource manager, social worker, and many more. These positions will require a certification or licensure, which is why the graduate degree is so important as it gives ease of access to these necessary credentials. Here are the top colleges in Kentucky that offer a master’s psychology degree: Eastern Kentucky University, Western Kentucky University, University of Kentucky, Murray State University, and Morehead State University.

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PhD Degree in Psychology (PhD)

The path to becoming a psychology professor, researcher, or psychiatrist is to obtain a PhD or doctorate degree. These programs typically consists of coursework, a dissertation, and an internship. Upon the completion of this type of program, students will be prepared to work in substance abuse, mental health administration, tele-health, and forensics/correctional.

A PhD/Doctorate degree can be obtained from the following colleges in Kentucky: University of Louisville, Eastern Kentucky University, Western Kentucky University, University of Kentucky, and Spalding University. Depending on the school, future psychology students may need to meet certain eligibility requirements for these programs including an undergraduate degree, letters of recommendation, employment experience, and a personal statement.

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Become a Psychologist in Kentucky

While many people want to get started in a psychology career, some aren’t sure exactly how to make their dream a reality. Since there are a wide variety of psychology fields, the entire process can seem overwhelming. The most common psychology fields are research, healthcare, education, and substance abuse. Here is exactly how to become a psychology professional in Kentucky.

  • Earn A College Degree:
    In order for people to pursue their professional goals in the field of psychology, enrolling in a psychology degree program will be necessary. Depending on their professional goals, they may choose to pursue an associate psychology degree, bachelor’s psychology degree, master’s psychology degree/MBA, or a PhD/Doctorate degree in psychology. However, most psychology-specific positions will require that you hold at least a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
  • Obtain Supervised Experience:
    Supervised experience is often a requirement for becoming a licensed or certified psychology professional. Depending on the type of professional that psychology graduates want to become, they may need to obtain anywhere from one hundred to a couple of thousand supervised hours.
  • Obtain Licenses & Certifications:

    The state requires future psychologists to become licensed. As soon as they complete a PhD/Doctorate degree in psychology, graduates can apply for psychologist licensure in Kentucky. The Kentucky Board of Examiners of Psychology will present qualified applicants with a temporary licensure. After receiving this temporary licensure, future psychologists will be eligible to take the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology or EPPP. The EPPP is a national exam. Once they pass this exam, psychology professionals will obtain an official Kentucky psychology license. A Kentucky psychology license enables them to work as psychologists and even open their own private practice.

    For psychology graduates who want to work as a counselor associate or clinical counselor, they will need to apply for one of the following licensures: Licensed Professional Counselor Associate or the Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor. Eligibility requirements for these licensures include a master’s psychology degree, 4,000 hours of supervised training, and an exam. The two licensure examinations are the National Counselor Examination and the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination.

    Kentucky’s Board of Social Work also offers a license for people who want to become social workers. There are a few options available: Licensed Social Worker, Certified Social Worker, and Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

    The eligibility requirements for a Licensed Social Worker certification include a bachelor’s psychology degree and an examination, whereas the eligibility requirements for a Certified Social Worker or Licensed Clinical Social Worker credentials include a master’s psychology degree and an examination. Future Licensed Clinical Social Workers must also have some hours of supervised work experience.

    The Board of Licensure for Marriage and Family Therapists offers another licensure option. The eligibility requirements to earn a Marriage and Family Therapist license include a master’s psychology degree, several hours of supervisory experience, and the MFT exam. The examination is offered through the Association of Marital & Family Therapy Boards.

    To become a school counselor, Kentucky requires prospects to obtain a master’s psychology degree and apply for licensure. As of February 2020, the Kentucky Department of Education does not require an examination. After these requirements are met, applicants will be granted a Kentucky School Counselor certification.

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  • Join Professional Organizations:

    Once psychology professionals become licensed or certified to work in Kentucky, it’s a good idea to join one or a couple of professional organizations. There are many benefits of joining professional organizations, including networking with other professionals and gaining access to educational or continuing education resources.

    The Kentucky Psychological Association is a great organization for psychology professionals who want to focus more on improving people’s lives.

    School psychologists may want to consider joining the Kentucky Association for Psychology in the Schools. This organization works closely with the National Association of School Psychologists to support school children with mental disorders.

    Psychology professionals can also join one of the following national organizations: American Psychological Association, the Association for Psychological Sciences, and the Society for the Teaching of Psychology.

Careers for Psychology Graduates

  • Social Work Assistant:
    Social work assistants are on a mission to assist a wide variety of people who need significant help. They may work with veterans, the homeless, the elderly, immigrants, disabled persons, former prison inmates, and many more. These professionals are able to drastically improve people’s overall lives by offering them access to many resources and programs. Most social work assistants work with social workers.
  • Human Resource Specialist:
    Human resource specialists are expected to juggle a wide range of tasks. They may interview/hire people, conduct trainings, complete paperwork, and resolve employee relations concerns.
  • Child Counselor/Psychologist:
    Child counselors/psychologists have the necessary skills to treat children with developmental problems and mental disorders. They can also support children going through challenging times such as those dealing with grief, divorce, or even school transitions.
  • Psychiatrist:
    Psychiatrists are doctors who treat people with mental disorders. They are responsible for diagnosing patients, prescribing medications, listening to patients’ problems, providing patients with coping strategies, and staying abreast of new developments in psychiatry.
  • Career Counselor:
    Career counselors are professionals who help people find the perfect career and paths toward accomplishing their career goals. The top career counselors know what skills are needed to excel in various careers and they can help you gain skills. As part of their job description, these professionals also teach their clients how to successfully interview with employers, create a powerful resume, and network with leaders in their field.
  • Community Health Worker:
    These professionals always strive to make the community a better place. Most of them work with people from underprivileged, marginalized communities, and they are often viewed as advocates for underserve people. The responsibilities of community health workers might include providing educational resources, making referrals to health services, promoting appropriate parenting behavior, conducting home visits, and much more.
  • College Counselor:
    The main objective of college counselors is to assist students with getting into the college of their choice. These experts support future college students with the entire application process by helping them create a powerful essay, offering test suggestions, and assist them in completing the FAFSA. Many students view these professionals as coaches, cheerleaders, and mentors.
  • Family Therapist:
    The overarching goal of family therapists is to help families work through problems. A family therapist may assist families going through a divorce, loss of loved one, and financial distress. These excellent professionals can also support families with a loved one suffering from mental illness.
  • Group Counselor:
    Group counselors excel in counseling small or large groups of people. During group counseling sessions, these professionals encourage people to talk about their problems. The best group counselors create a trusting environment so that people feel less alone and more understood. Group counselors generally facilitate groups with two to fifteen people.
  • Mental Health Counselor:
    The primary goal of mental health counselors is to support people with conditions such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. During a counseling session, these professionals may use a wide variety of treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, animal-assisted therapy, and psychodynamic therapy.

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