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Becoming a psychologist or a psychiatrist involves a long journey of education and certification. Typically, a psychologist needs a doctoral degree to work clinical and counseling jobs, which requires years of undergraduate and graduate education.
Some people spend a decade in higher education before fulfilling their dreams. If you are a bachelor's student, earning your license and landing a job may seem like a lifetime away.
Luckily, psychology students can find training and certifications in the mental health field that do not require candidates to hold licensure. These opportunities may appeal to learners who want to gain some experience and enhance their resumes before graduate school.
Psychology students can use these credentials to find jobs as community workers, caseworkers, and crisis counselors. Alternatively, psychology students who may not feel sure about their career path can explore these credentials to help decide on their ideal professional field.
You can find a list of eight training courses and certifications related to mental health below. Keep reading to learn about how these opportunities can help with your career.
Certifications and Training for Psychology Undergrad Students
Mental Health First Aid TrainingMost people generally understand what encompasses first aid when it comes to physical health. In times of emergency, first aid professionals can administer CPR and dress wounds for injured individuals. Mental health first aid works similarly, equipping people with the tools they need to respond to mental health crises or emergencies.
Interested individuals can take a course from Mental Health First Aid International that covers depression, anxiety disorders, trauma, substance abuse disorders, and other mental health challenges. Students learn a five-step action plan that can help them guide people in need.
Mental health first aid workers can assist someone experiencing a panic attack or overdose. Adults do not need a degree to enroll in the training. The course can teach useful skills to people hoping to work as mental health and public safety professionals.
Psychological First Aid TrainingPsychological first aid (PFA) training shares many components with the training listed above. However, it differs from mental health first aid training on one key point. This training focuses on responding to trauma. While the National Child Traumatic Stress Network offers this training, psychological first aid can also help adolescents and adults.
The PFA online course lasts six hours. It follows an interactive format, with students taking on an active role in a virtual disaster relief scene. A second training course from this organization focuses on psychological recovery. This five-hour course teaches providers how to handle trauma-related stress.
The organization offers a third course in Spanish. Along with mental health professionals, first responders and disaster relief workers can benefit from these online programs.
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Certified Alzheimer CaregiverAlzheimer's disease causes the brain to degenerate, which leads to memory loss and other cognitive detriments. Individuals afflicted with Alzheimer's benefit from mental health professionals who can provide care with empathy and patience.
The certified Alzheimer caregiver credential trains caregivers to assist people with this disease. Offered by the National Certification Board for Alzheimer and Aging Care, the certification requires candidates to participate in 15 hours of training and pass a qualifying exam. This exam evaluates test-takers on their knowledge of dementia and the behaviors of people with Alzheimer's disease. Psychology students or graduates can certainly utilize their studies when taking the exam and working as a caregiver.
Interpersonal Social Rhythm Therapy TrainingInterpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT) refers to guiding people through their natural biological rhythms. It can help people with mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder. Professionals trained in this method assist clients by analyzing how their mood connects to life events and social relationships. Clients then try to build a routine to regulate their moods.
People interested in this training can take an eight-hour course online. The course includes recorded interviews with IPSRT experts and other materials, like tracking tools and instruments to evaluate bipolar symptoms. Individuals who complete the course can also participate in discussion boards with other people trained in IPSRT.
Certification in Thanatology: Death, Dying, and BereavementThanatology refers to the study of death and the psychological and social processes relating to loss. The Association of Death Education and Counseling offers four certification tracks in the field, including one that does not require a completed bachelor's degree. The credential allows certified individuals to conduct grief counseling or counseling in preparation for one's death.
Psychologists, counselors, therapists, and social workers benefit from this certification. To apply, each candidate needs at least two years of study in the social or behavioral sciences. They must also possess at least 3,520 hours of experience working in thanatology and at least 90 hours of thanatology education.
Certified Co-Occurring Disorders SpecialistPsychologists classify a person with both substance abuse and mental health disorders as a dual diagnosis with co-occurring disorders. The Breining Institute grants a certified co-occurring disorders specialist credential to mental health professionals who aim to work with clients experiencing this condition.
The institute does not list a post-secondary degree as a requirement for this certification. However, applicants should hold at least three years of experience working with people battling alcohol and drug addiction or substance abuse disorders. Applicants should also pass a qualifying exam or bypass this requirement by completing an education course.
The exam and course cover substance abuse, personality, mood, and psychotic disorders. Test-takers must also answer questions specifically considering co-occurring disorder treatment.
Mental Health Facilitator TrainingThe Mental Health Facilitator organization aims to provide increased mental health care around the globe. It carries out this mission by training people who may not hold licensure, but who still want to help with mental health services. Therefore, this training offers a strong option for psychology students who have not yet graduated.
The mental health training identifies the five signs of mental illness and teaches students to connect people to local resources. Enrollees learn about how to decrease risk factors for people with mental illnesses. They also learn how to reduce the frequency and intensity of the factors that trigger disorders and episodes.
Personal/Life CoachThis course does not strictly relate to disorders or therapy. However, personal and life coaching often requires a deep dive into a person's mental health, so psychology students can use their knowledge to provide high-quality coaching services to their clients. A life coach guides clients through personal and career challenges. These professionals encourage their clients to find introspection, self-discovery, and personal growth.
Those interested in earning personal/life coach certification can find information at the Center for Credentialing and Education. Each applicant should demonstrate that they already possess at least 30 hours of life coaching experience. They can find training through several organizations, many of which offer courses online. Those organizations include the Coaching Institute, the Circle of Life Coach Institute, and the Institute for Life Coach Training.
- NCTSN Learning Center. (n.d.). Psychological First Aid (PFA) and Skills for Psychological Recovery (SPR).
- NCBAC. (n.d.). Certified Alzheimer Caregiver.
- IPSRT. (n.d.). IPSRT training.
- Association for Death Education and Counseling. (n.d.). Certification in Thanatology: Death, Dying and Bereavement.
- Breining Institute. (n.d.). Certified Co-occurring Disorders Specialist (CCDS).
- Mental Health Facilitator. (n.d.). About the mental health facilitator (MHF) program.
- Center for Credentialing & Education. (n.d.). Specialty designations.
- Coaching Institute. (n.d.).
- Life Coach Training. (n.d.).
- Circle of Life Coach Institute. (n.d.)