How to Become a Psychologist in Louisiana

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What is Psychology?


A psychologist is a professional who studies mental processes, be they social, cognitive, emotional, behavioral, or all of the above. They study these processes by observing and interpreting how people relate to others and their surroundings. They may record their observations for the benefit of future counseling sessions or for the sake of referral to a psychologist and future medication.

In general, psychiatrists and psychologists work independently. They consult with clients, carry out research, or work with patients depending on their specific job description. They may be a part of a healthcare team working with social workers, doctors, or in schools working with teachers or other education professionals and the parents of students. Psychologists in private practice may choose to work evenings or weekends so that they can accommodate the needs and schedules of their clients, but those who work as psychiatric technicians will have their schedule set by a manager.

As you can see, there are a variety of levels in which mental health professionals can work. To work with clients, psychiatrists and counselors should have, at minimum, a master’s degree - though a psychologist will need a doctoral degree. To practice in this field at any of these levels, you will also need to be licensed. The only mental health workers that do not need a master’s degree are psychiatric technicians, though they will need either an associate or bachelor’s, and addiction counselors, who will need either an associate degree in the field or a certification along with a license from the state.


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Psychology Education in Louisiana


The state of Louisiana employs 13,000+ mental health professionals. The annual mean wage for these professionals was $87,000, as of May 2020.

Psychologists and other mental health professionals fit within the educational services, healthcare, and social assistance industry, and this industry brings $22.1 billion into the state’s coffers each year. And professionals in every area of psychology - school psychologist, clinical psychologist, psychology consultant, mental health counselor, and rehabilitation counselor, along with others - contribute tremendously to the state’s economic and social wellbeing.

Psychology is one of the professional fields requiring its membership to be licensed and/or credentialed in their area of specialty. The Louisiana Addictive Disorder Regulatory Authority (LA-ADRA) makes sure that substance abuse and addiction counselors have the educational and training backgrounds they need. The ADRA administers licensing and credentialing exams to these professionals and regulates every addiction and substance abuse counselor in the state.

The Licensed Professional Counselors Board of Examiners holds the same oversight responsibility for other mental health workers. The LPCBE works with new counselors who need to take their licensing exam so that they can practice professionally; it also works with currently licensed counselors and assists individuals who are looking for a licensed professional counselor.

A third state board, The Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists (LSBEP), is responsible for safeguarding the “life, health, property, and the public welfare” against the improper and unqualified application of psychology in Louisiana. Between these various agencies, all counseling and mental health professionals can become appropriately accredited, and the state protects its citizens from those who cannot legally perform counseling services.

Looking at other top 10 industries in the state, aside from psychologists, manufacturing sits at the top, bringing $52.2 billion into the state each year. Real estate, rental, and leasing is in the second spot, with $26 billion. Professional and business services contribute $22.3 billion. The finance and insurance industry contributes $11.9 billion, while arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services contribute another $11.8 billion. And every stressed worker or resident with mental health issues counts on the mental health sector to enable them to live their lives to the fullest and overcome their emotional or behavioral troubles. This is part of why the mental health industry is so vital, though it makes up only a tiny portion of workers in the state.

Associate Degree in Psychology (AS)

An associate degree in health and human services or a similar field may offer students the skills and knowledge they need to work as paraprofessionals, helping individuals and their community to achieve a better state of well-being. Graduates will be well-prepared to work in corrections facilities, community mental health programs, or in agencies confronting family and domestic violence. These paraprofessionals may also be able to work in facilities catering to the needs of older people, as well as family and youth agencies.

In associate-level degrees, they will also gain skills in effective communication, diversity, and sensitivity. Thy may be able to find work in client intake assessments and evaluations, facilitate group therapies and interventions, and use the degree to network with other mental health workers and agencies.

Bachelor's Degree in Psychology (BS)

This psychology undergraduate degree, for which there are several programs offered by Louisiana universities, often emphasize on a hands-on understanding of human behavior. In these programs, students can gain the skills they need in cognitive, biological, clinical, or school psychology.

Graduates of these programs will be prepared for careers as crisis workers and mental health advocates. They will also be ready for further education in psychology or counseling. If they graduate with master’s in psychology, they may be ready to begin practicing as school psychologists, testing and assessment analysts, and clinical psychologists. Students who plan to work with clients who have addictions should hold a master’s degree in a behavioral science.

Students who have earned their bachelor’s in psychology may be able to work in either social or health programs: mental healthcare, child or geriatric; in a research capacity - writing grants, assisting in a laboratory, or with data analysis; or in a business setting in marketing, finance, or management.

Master's Degree in Psychology (MS or MC)

Graduate students in the psychology program gain higher-level training in psychology as a science that goes beyond the foundational education you gain in an associate or bachelor’s degree program. This prepares them to work as fully licensed counselors and psychologists in areas such as cognitive, clinical, social and developmental psychology, or to enter doctoral programs that will allow them to work as psychiatrists. At most universities offering these types of degrees, the psychology program is stressed as a science. This approach allows students to become more competitive candidates for higher-level training programs in clinical or counseling psychology.

Elective coursework might include cognitive-behavioral therapy, assessment, and psychopathology, among others. Master’s level students are often required to complete a thesis while supervised by a graduate faculty member. Graduates of these programs may also be able to apply for their licensing exams. The university or college you attend must be accredited by the Regional Association of Colleges and Schools and graduates must have earned their degrees in specific areas of psychology, such as behavioral science or rehabilitation counseling, for you to be able to sit for an examination.

PhD Degree in Psychology (PhD)

The Louisiana university you choose might offer a clinical Psychology Training Program (CPTP) or another similar program that will allow you to gain this terminal degree in the specific psychology field of your choice.

These programs place emphasis on the blending of the scientific and applied aspects of psychology, whether it is clinical psychology, counseling psychology, or another field. Every student at this level must complete training consistent with the most recent research in their field of specialization. Students who are interested may choose to complete additional coursework and practical research training. This allows students to engage in elective study areas, such as neuropsychology and clinical psychology.

These types of programs should be able to be completed in five to seven years.

Become a Psychology Professional in Louisiana


After graduating from their master’s or doctoral program, new psychologists are required to meet one more requirement before they can begin practicing in their chosen field in Louisiana.

Louisiana has three agencies which regulate the practice of mental health care. These are the Addictive Disorder Regulatory Authority (ADRA), the Louisiana State Board of Licensed Professional Counselors, and the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists. The last agency concerns itself with safeguarding “the life, health, property, and the public welfare, and in order to protect the people of this state against unauthorized, unqualified and improper application of psychology.”

ADRA may license psychologists who work with clients who struggle with addiction. Its goal is to be sure that all counselors who focus on addiction recovery and prevention hold the needed skills that allow them to treat a wide variety of clients. New applicants may fall into one of four groups: in-training and paraprofessional; addiction counselors; prevention professionals; and specialty certifications.

The Licensed Professional Counselors Board of Examiners offers licensing on several levels. This includes the Provisional Licensed professional Counselor, the Provisional Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, the Licensed Professional Counselor, the Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, the Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor, the Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Supervisor, and the Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Supervisor Candidate. Licensing requirements for each of these professionals is different. Graduates may earn an initial license and then, in a few years, either renew their licenses or apply for a higher level of licensure.

The Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists is the agency that new or existing psychologists should focus on. The board sends updates to psychologists who have earned their licenses to practice; this helps practitioners to stay up to date on renewals and earning hours of Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

Careers for Psychology Graduates


  • Psychiatric Technician

    A psychiatric technician provides care for people with mental illness or developmental disabilities. They usually offer therapeutic care but they may also monitor and make notes of their patients’ conditions. The technicians also help their patients to carry out their activities of daily living (ADLs).

    Psychiatric technicians can also lead their patients in both recreational and therapeutic activities. At times, they may restrain any patient who becomes physically violent.

  • Social Work Assistant
    Social work assistants work under the direction of full-fledged social workers. It is their responsibility to help people who need services. They offer access to services in the community, provide advice, and take care of paperwork. They work with families who need to gain access to food, shelter, and welfare; the elderly; disabled; inmates; veterans; the homeless; and immigrants. They may also assess clients and learn what type of help they need. They work alongside social workers.
  • Social Worker

    Social workers have either a bachelor’s or master’s degree. They work with clients and help them to solve their problems. If the social worker has an advanced degree, they may diagnose and treat issues such as mental, emotional, or behavioral problems.

    They identify which people and communities need help; assess the needs of their clients, their strengths, and current support networks; they help their clients adjust to changes or challenges in their lives such as unemployment, illness, or divorce; they respond to crisis situations such as child abuse; they maintain case files and record-keeping; refer clients to community resources to help improve their well-being; and provide psychotherapy - this last responsibility is for social workers who have the correct level of education and licensure.

  • Guidance Counselor/Career Advisor

    Guidance counselors work within schools. They help students and offer advice to them about academic decisions and may also advise them about personal decisions. They offer private counseling to students, coordinate with other professionals on issues pertaining to students, and assess the abilities and potential of the students they work with.

    Career advisors lead career advisement sessions in which they answer questions about career development, career exploration, and placement procedures. They educate students on skills needed for job searches and industry trends, helping them prepare for employment; guide graduates on effective career searching; lead student training in personal and professional development; and help students prepare their resumes and fine tune their interview skills.

  • Victim Advocate
    A victim advocate is the link between victims of crime and the criminal court system. They offer advice and explain how the criminal justice system works as well as the victim’s legal rights and what might happen when their case is adjudicated. Because victims are sometimes asked to relive their attack and the trauma they experienced, the advocate works closely with the victim so that, in the trial, they can give their account without being surprised.
  • Family and Marriage Therapist

    Family and marriage therapy is a short, solution-focused therapy. Families and couples often benefit from how specific each session is and the therapy goals. Therapy is customized to fit the goal a family wants to achieve.

    MFTs work with a wide range of issues including marital or family issues, anxiety, depression, disturbances in the parent-child relationship, and individual psychological problems.

Sources:

  • https://www.susla.edu/page/human-services-associate-degree-program
  • https://www.lsu.edu/majors/hss/psychology.php
  • https://psychology.louisiana.edu/programs/psychology-major/career-opportunities
  • https://www.naceweb.org/career-development/organizational-structure/career-services-director-job-descriptions/
  • https://www.pointloma.edu/resources/counseling-psychology/what-does-licensed-marriage-family-therapist-lmft-do

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