PTSD as a Professional Career Goal

Reader’s Question

I am currently working on my associate’s degree in psychology with the intention of getting my master’s. I would like to make my concentration in PTSD. Could you give me some advice as to how to go about getting there?

Psychologist’s Reply

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a clinical diagnosis — not an area of academic orientation and study such as clinical, experimental, industrial, school, or educational psychology. However, many psychologists focus their clinical practice on PTSD, victims of abuse, and trauma. To eventually have a clinical practice that specializes in PTSD, I’d recommend the following steps:

  • Complete your bachelor’s degree in psychology. Add courses in biology, memory, and neuropsychology if possible.
  • Enter a graduate school program in clinical or counseling psychology (or clinical counseling or social work). As part of your regular coursework, enroll in courses that focus on the treatment of victims of abuse as well as neurological courses that focus on memory and brain functioning.
  • As a graduate student, attend workshops on the treatment of PTSD, trauma victims, etc. When you are ready for your practicum and/or internship, select a professional work site that focuses on the treatment of trauma victims. Such placements may include a military veterans’ mental health clinic or hospital, spouse abuse shelters/programs, or child protective agencies.
  • As part of your graduate thesis or major paper, study an aspect of PTSD. Professionals are often considered “experts” in an area of practice because they’ve completed studies and research in those areas. You can also study specific treatments for PTSD as several are available.
  • Increase your knowledge by studying on the internet. On Google for example, you can find hundreds of articles on PTSD by first searching for PTSD followed by a “+” and an additional topic such as ‘PTSD +hypnosis’ or ‘PTSD +medication’ or ‘PTSD +treatment programs’ or ‘PTSD +memory’.

I’ve worked with PTSD for several decades at this point, prompting me to write the article on Emotional Memory on this website. I’d review that as well.

Hope this helps. Good luck with your career.

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