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How Do I Become a Psychological Assistant?

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  • Written By: D. Nelson
  • Edited By: M. C. Hughes
  • Last Modified Date: 03 December 2016
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Psychological assistants are professionals in the field of psychology who help certified psychologists in a number of areas, such as gathering and filing paperwork, performing research, assisting patients, and in some cases even making diagnoses. In research settings, psychological assistants might observe subjects, perform data entry tasks, and help primary researchers to complete reports and papers. Assistants who work in mental health facilities, on the other hand, look after patients, prepare medical records, and in some cases diagnose and treat mental illnesses. To become a psychological assistant you should enroll in an academic program where you can earn a degree in psychology. This credential is essential for almost anyone who would like to become a psychological assistant, though assistants in smaller offices might only need associate's degrees.

To become a psychological assistant in a research context, it might be necessary to enroll in a graduate program in psychology. Most research centers are funded by universities and employ the help of graduate students, many of whom work for tuition or academic credit. It is important to understand, however, that there are different branches of psychology, such as abnormal psychology, behavioral psychology, and developmental psychology. You should find a graduate program and research assistant position that fits your interests and long term career goals.

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Most fully certified psychologists who work in mental health facilities already have master's (MA) or doctoral (PhD) degrees. For this reason, most psychological assistants in these environments hold bachelor's degrees. To become a psychological assistant in a mental health facility, it is important that you earn this degree since an undergraduate program provides you with a greater understanding of mental illness and the ways in which it is treated.

Many people who act as psychological assistants in mental health facilities are considering continuing education in this field. In some cases, they might be graduate students who are working to pay for their educations. It also is possible that graduate students in clinical psychology programs might work as assistants for academic credit. These positions can serve as great opportunities to learn how to speak with and treat mental health patients.

Any person who would like to become a psychological assistant should have a resume or curriculum vitae that details his or her experience, skills, and honors, such as awards and publications. Individuals who want to become assistants in mental health facilities should highlight their understanding of basic psychological principles, their knowledge of current treatments, and their ability to work with and care for mental health patients. Aspiring research assistants should draw attention to their publications, awards, and continued interest in a particular field.

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