I Want to Do What You Do

Dr. Linda Hancock 11. The Eleventh Year Business Business_Careers Employment

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Often, I hear from students or community members who state that they want to become a psychologist. They are usually quite surprised to find out what they would need to do in order to obtain a license to practice. February is Psychologist Month in Alberta so I thought I would share the process with you:

  1. Education - First of all you need to complete a four-year Bachelor's degree and a two-year Master's degree that each have specific coursework. Alberta is one of the few places in North America where a Doctoral degree is not a requirement although many psychologists have one. It is a good idea to have degrees from different accredited universities so that you have a wide range of training.
  2. Registration - Once you have completed your educational requirements, you apply to the College of Alberta Psychologists for membership. A learning plan needs to be prepared and submitted for their approval.
  3. Record check - You need to prove that you do not have a Criminal Record.
  4. Supervision - It takes between one and two years to finish the number of supervised hours in your specialized area of practice.
  5. Examinations - The candidate must achieve a grade of at least seventy percent in order to pass the written exam. Passing an oral exam, conducted with a panel of experienced psychologists, is the final step before you can be approved to become a Registered Psychologist.
  6. Insurance - In order to operate a private practice, you need to purchase at least one million dollars coverage.
  7. Ethics - You will be expected to honour the Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics of the profession.
  8. Renewal - Each year, you need to pay your fees, prove that you have insurance and update the College on changes in your address, legal status or situation.
  9. Professional Development - You are expected to continue studying each year in order to be abreast of new scientific developments and changes in psychology.
  10. Private Practice - If you are not working under the umbrella of an organization, then you are responsible for all the tasks and costs associated with operating a business.

Usually, once I have reviewed the above, the person who has asked for information is shocked. Often, I am told "But I just want to talk with people like you do".

Well, it isn't that easy! The process involves a serious commitment of time and money.

The good news is that those who seek the services of a psychologist can feel comfortable knowing that they will be seeing someone who is well educated, insured, licensed and held to ethical standards. They can share their problems in a safe and confidential setting with someone who is able to provide objective insight.

Dr. Linda Hancock, the author of “Life is An Adventure…every step of the way” and “Open for Business Success” is a Registered Psychologist who has a private practice in Medicine Hat. She can be reached at 403-529-6877 or through email office@drlindahancock.com

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