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What is Psychology?

Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. It includes examining the conscious and unconscious mind, as well as feelings and emotions. Psychologists help people who are dealing with mental health issues navigate their situation and find ways to live productive and happy lives. These professionals are needed all over the world, including South Dakota.

Psychologists are professionals who study the human mind and behavior. They use scientific methods to observe, record, and analyze data in order to better understand how people think, feel, and behave. Psychologists often work in research laboratories or mental health clinics, but they can also be found in schools, businesses, hospitals, and other settings. The common denominator is that a person in this field is focused on helping people. Some might want to work as counselors and therapists, while others want to work at ground level to eliminate the issues that lead people to need mental health services. There really is no average day for people who work in this industry because of the variety of roles available.

Those who work in counseling might work in an office and see a set list of clients throughout the week. Those who work in a rehab facility will go into work at the facility and interact with various patients who are at different stages of recovery, including those who have just been brought in and are in real danger until they overcome withdrawal. Psychiatrists might see patients that have been referred to them and make decisions about their need for medication. Psychology researchers will interact with those who are part of their experiments, come up with theories, crunch numbers obtained from previous experiments, and write articles for publication on their findings. As you can see, there are a huge variety of options for anyone who is just getting into the psychology field.

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Online Psychology Education in South Dakota

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the need for psychology professionals is expected to increase at a rapid rate. This could be because of the environment, extra stressors from work and familial responsibilities, or because the stigma behind seeking mental health services is lessening. If salary is a consideration, the average psychologist with a master’s degree makes just under $100,000, while those with PhDs make upwards of $120,000 per year.

Although many people automatically think of psychologists or psychiatrists when psychology is mentioned, these are just two of many careers in the field. There are many types of psychology professionals needed. Adults, children, families, veterans, and emergency services personnel all might need assistance at some point. If you think you would be interested in helping people when they are seeking mental health assistance, keep reading. Below you’ll find information about education requirements, job duties, and a few descriptions of careers a person with an education in psychology can explore.

As with most careers, there are various options of educational levels for those who want to work as psychology professionals. The more education a person has, the further they can progress in their careers. Also, in order to attain counseling and other licenses, a person much reach certain educational levels and meet other requirements. For the most part, those who want to work in psychology must attain a graduate degree. This also applies for anyone who wants to enter academia. Below are some of the requirements for each degree level.

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Online Associate Degree in Psychology (AS)

An associate degree in psychology gives a person an idea of whether or not they want to pursue a career in psychology. In terms of usefulness in the workforce, the degree won’t offer a whole lot. Some organizations might allow a person with a two-year degree to do clerical work but they will not be allowed to work with patients.

Courses included in the two-year degree include:

  • Intro to Psychology
  • Human Relations
  • Social Psychology
  • Behavioral Science
  • Human Growth and Development
  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Psychology of Personality
  • And More

These degrees typically take four semesters to complete, or around two years. You might be able to find an accelerated option, though these programs would be intense. If you choose to attend part-time, it will take longer than two years to complete, but then you could continue to work or take care of family responsibilities while earning your foundational degree and deciding if psychology is the right major for you.

Online Bachelor's Degree in Psychology (BS)

A bachelor’s degree in psychology introduces students to behavioral neuroscience and helps students develop communication problem-solving and critical thinking skills. These skills are important and will be needed once a student graduates and starts their career working for places such as welfare agencies, businesses, human resources, or the government, just to name a few options.

These degrees take four years to complete and students are likely to take courses such as the following.

  • General Psychology
  • Psychology of the Individual
  • Mind, Brain, and Behavior
  • Social Psychology
  • Psychological Measurement and Testing
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Clinical and Counseling Psychology
  • Psychology of Drug Addiction Treatment
  • History and Systems of Psychology
  • Life Span Development
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Sensation and Perception
  • And More

For students who want to explore the clinical side of working as a psychology professional, additional education will be required, but that doesn’t mean a person cannot have a successful career with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Many students choose not to pursue higher education and go on to work in editing, business, human resources, marketing, and more. There are many places where an understanding of human behavior (and the rigorous communications courses you often take in psychology programs) are useful.

Online Master's Degree in Psychology (MS or MC)

The next step for someone who wants to work as a clinician or counselor is getting a master’s degree in psychology. Graduate degree programs usually take three to five years and consist of classroom training, an internship, and a capstone course or comprehensive exam.

Students enrolled in a graduate program will study courses such as the following.

  • Learning and Cognition
  • Clinical Psychopharmacology
  • Memory and the Brain
  • Ethics in Counseling Practice
  • Group Dynamics
  • Learning and Cognition
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Principles of Neuroscience

At this level, many students choose to specialize, which has an effect on what courses you take during your program. Concentrations at this level can include addiction, applied behavior analysis, forensic psychology, industrial-organizational psychology, and more.

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Online PhD Degree in Psychology (PhD)

Doctorate students have two options when it comes to terminal degrees. The first option is the PhD, or the Doctorate of Letters in Psychology, which is ideal for those who want to work in research or want to teach psychology at the university level. For those who want to become clinicians and work with patients, the Doctorate in Psychology (PsyD) is an option. Both degrees take between five and seven years to complete, and a dissertation must be written and successfully defended for each.

Some of the classes included in the doctorate programs include the following.

  • Assessment, Statistics, and Research Techniques
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Multicultural Consistencies

It is possible to complete all the coursework and clinicals required and work as a counselor at some capacity without completing a dissertation. This is referred to as a PhD – ABD or PsyD – ABD. ABD stands for “all but dissertation”. However, in many states, South Dakota included, to receive a license to practice you must complete your doctorate degree fully, including the dissertation.

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Become a Psychology Professional in South Dakota

There are several options for those who want to work as psychologists or counselors in the state of South Dakota. For example, those who want to become licensed addiction counselors must meet the following requirements.

  • Hold a master’s degree in a behavioral science discipline
  • The candidate needs 21 semester hours in Board-mandated areas.

    The Board requires three semester hours in each of the following:

    • Theories and techniques of addiction counseling
    • Psychopathology or psychopharmacology
    • Treatment planning
    • Case management/ assessment of co-occurring disorders
    • Multicultural competency
    • Ethical, legal, and professional standards
    • Clinical supervision
  • Candidates must earn a minimum of a ‘C’ in each course
  • The trainee needs 2,000 hours of experience. This experience must include:

    • 300 hours of supervised practical training
    • A minimum of ten hours in each of 12 core functions.
    • Candidates must pass a written IC&RC examination.

As was mentioned previously, in order to worked as a psychologist in South Dakota a doctorate degree is required. Once a person has fulfilled the educational requirements to become a psychologist, they can then pursue licensure.

Below are the requirements to become a licensed psychologist in the state.

  • Candidates must have a doctoral degree from a regionally accredited university or professional school of psychology, or one that is recognized by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada as a member in good standing.
  • Candidates must have passed any examination specified by the board for this purpose.
  • Candidates must have completed a supervised psychology internship amounting to not less than 1,800 hours in duration over a period of not more than two consecutive calendar years. The board shall specify, by rules promulgated pursuant to chapter 1-26, the nature of an acceptable supervised psychology internship.
  • Candidates must have one year of supervised postdoctoral psychology practice. The board shall specify, by rules promulgated pursuant to chapter 1-26, the nature of an acceptable postdoctoral year of supervised psychology practice.
  • Candidates cannot have been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude as defined in subdivision 22-1-2(25).

Careers for Psychology Graduates

  • Psychiatric Technician
    Psychiatric technicians assist with the day-to-day care of psychiatric patients in facilities and group homes. They help with feeding, bathing, and other daily activities. They are also often safe people for patients to talk to. Holding this position is a good way for someone to decide if they want to work with people with mental health issues or might prefer to work elsewhere in the psychology field.
  • Social Worker
    Social workers help people in crisis. Whether they are helping the homeless find shelter, assisting with children in the foster care system, or as a community outreach worker, social workers’ primary goals are to help people overcome issues that might be hampering their lives.
  • Community Service Manager
    A community service manager meets with community members and organizations with funding for the community to determine and meet the needs of the community. Service managers create programs to meet the needs of a community.
  • Guidance Counselor/Career Advisor
    Students about to graduate from high school or college don’t always know what their next step should be. Guidance counselors help students examine their options and make the best choice for them. For adults who are changing careers, career advisors offer this same service for them. Both guidance counselors and career advisors use a set of tools and techniques to help their advisees narrow down their interests and focus until their best options are apparent to them.
  • Victim Advocate
    Victims are often too traumatized to speak for themselves, and so advocates help speak for them. Advocates are well-versed in the systems that victims deal with while seeking justice or other forms of relief. Victim advocates work with adults, children, and families to ensure that their issues are treated fairly and with care.

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  • Child Counselor/Psychologist
    Psychologists that work with children have a specific skill set. They can work with children of all ages, though some opt to specialize in various age groups such as young children, pre-teens, and teenagers. These counselors work in clinics, schools, and for social service agencies that are called in for interventions and to help families in crisis.
  • Substance Abuse/Addictions Counselor
    Substance abuse and addiction counselors work with people who wish to overcome addiction issues. Some counselors choose to focus on certain additions over others, such as drugs and alcohol, while other work with all types of addictions. The counseling is done on both an individual and group level and can take place off-site or at a facility for in-patients and out-patients. Counselors have techniques they use to assist a person with working through their addictions, identifying triggers, and learning ways to avoid these issues in the future so that they can protect their sobriety.
  • Psychiatrist
    Psychiatrists have a similar background in regard to counseling and therapy methods to psychologists, but they also hold medical degrees. Psychiatrists have the medical and biological education that allows them to not only offer counseling and therapy to their patients, but to also prescribe medications for their patients.
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