Nothing can be more nerve wracking than applying to graduate school. Reminiscing on my application process makes my stomach a little queasy and my nails start to creep to my lips. Do I need to take the GRE and how long should I study for it? Which program will get me on the career path I want? How in the world will I ever be able to afford it?
If you are interested in pursuing psychology in your graduate studies, you should take a deep breath and pick up The Insider’s Guide to Graduate Programs in Clinical and Counseling Psychology, by John C. Norcross and Michael A. Sayette. Their introduction states it best: “The purpose of this book is to help you navigate the heretofore unknown and frightening process of applying to clinical and counseling psychology graduate programs.”
The Insider’s Guide to Graduate Programs in Clinical and Counseling Psychology takes the potential graduate student from the very beginning of the application process through making a decision. They also cover the importance of program accreditation and issues when considering online programs. The first few chapters of the book are devoted to guiding the prospective graduate student through the arduous process of picking a program, counseling versus clinical psychology, preparing their application, and picking a graduate school. The first chapter outlines the similarities and differences between clinical and counseling psychology. The descriptions are deliberate and considerate, giving the reader a full understanding of the two disciplines. The authors also take the opportunity to quickly introduce alternative practices to clinical and counseling psychology.
The authors move on to a discussion of the PsyD degree (practitioner roles) versus the PhD (scientist role). Not only do they present the differences between the structure and course work within these programs, but they also discuss the differences between student loan debt, class size, and financial assistance.
For students who have narrowed down their decision, the authors provide an in-depth look at how to prepare for graduate school. They tackle questions such as whether a master’s degree first is the best option, how to gain clinical experience, and how to prepare for the GRE. The authors even include a worksheet for creating a study plan for the GRE.
The next chapters guide the prospective student through the application process. The authors present information specifically to assist disabled, minority, international, and LGBTQ prospective students. There is also information to guide a prospective student in narrowing down the list of potential programs, examples of curriculum vitae and requests for letters of recommendation. The book also includes a chapter on “Mastering the Interview.” This particular chapter will be helpful for the applicant that feels nervous about the interview process. There are example questions of what may be asked of the applicant and a list of questions the applicant may ask their interviewer.
The rest of the book presents the doctorate degree programs in counseling and clinical psychology. The authors provide a quick overview of the programs and include such information as the average GPA of admitted students, courses required for incoming students, average years to completion, research areas, and clinical opportunities. There is also a rating system of one to seven, one being fully practice oriented and seven fully research oriented. The authors rate each program to give a quick visual to the reader as to where the program lay on the practice-research spectrum. This tool will be especially helpful for students who have already decided which direction they would prefer. The school overviews are divided into combined psychology, counseling psychology and clinical psychology; this provides a bit more organization to the program presentation.
The Insider’s Guide to Graduate Programs in Clinical and Counseling Psychology will be particularly useful for students who already know they would like to go into one of these two programs. While there are many graduate school ranking resources and graduate program overview books, this text is more geared towards the student who is settled into a decision about counseling or clinical psychology and needs assistance in applying for those specific areas. Therefore, the program overviews are basic snapshots. Other books that provide overviews of graduate schools will possibly provide more in depth discussions of each school, but The Insider’s Guide is specific to the program itself. Some students may find it helpful to use The Insider’s Guide to pick out a top 20 list of programs and then narrow down the list by using another text to get a better overview of each university.
Norcross and Sayette guide the applicant along every step of the application process. They point out the pitfalls, loopholes, benefits and drawbacks to almost every element of applying to graduate school. They fulfill their purpose to the greatest possible degree and provide a resource that is thorough and articulate. Worry not, potential psychology graduates: The Insider’s Guide to Graduate Programs in Clinical and Counseling Psychology is your number-one resource and will provide you with all of the information you need.
Insider’s Guide to Graduate Programs in Clinical and Counseling Psychology: 2016/2017 Edition
The Guilford Press, February 2016
Paperback, 442 pages