Psychology Master’s Degree Programs in Georgia
Atlanta is now the fifth largest city in America, a bustling metro area of nearly 6 million people and a longstanding reputation for being the city that is too busy to hate. But that doesn’t mean it’s free of all the causal factors of stress related emotional and psychological problems. In fact, a recent study showed that Atlantans spend more time stuck in traffic than residents of most other U.S. cities. And while everyone has to deal with these kinds of stress factors every day, those with mental illness may experience worsening symptoms when exposed to even ordinary stressors over extended periods.
Georgia’s big cities are not the only places experiencing high levels of stress and the psychological tension that comes along with it. Even the rural areas of the state are affected, but for different reasons. Things like social isolation, financial stress, substance abuse, and inadequate access to health care have caused additional strain on those living outside city limits.
Thankfully, policymakers aren’t just sitting idly by. State officials have recognized the unique needs of those living in rural parts of the state and have assembled a roundtable to develop solutions to the mental, physical and behavioral health issues going on in those areas. The state has also spent the last several years overhauling the mental health system in its entirety.
With all of this forward momentum, and the urgent need for psychological services in Georgia, now is the perfect time to earn a master’s degree in psychology and put it to work to become part of the solution.
A Master’s is Key to Becoming Licensed in Certain Roles in Georgia
Psychologists in Georgia are required by the Georgia State Board of Examiners of Psychologists to have a doctoral degree; however, a master’s is the standard licensing requirement for a number of high-demand roles.
A master’s degree is the minimum entry point for social workers and therapists in the state. Licensure options in Georgia for those with a master’s degree in psychology or related areas like counseling, social work or behavior analysis include Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), as well as the State Education Agency (SEA) Credential.
Online and Campus-Based Master’s Degree Options Widely Available in Georgia
There are 46 schools to choose from for undergrads looking to study psychology, and 14 that offer master’s or other advanced degree options, online, on-campus, and in blended programs that combine distance based study with on-campus intensives.
Substance Abuse Disorders Spotlight a Growing Social Problem in Georgia
Georgia is set to surpass much of the nation when it comes to opioid overdose deaths, according to data published by the federal government. The addictive nature of opioids has led to people turning to cheaper illicit drugs, namely heroin, and entering a world where overdoses and communicable diseases are commonplace. During the recession, addiction funding was all but non-existent in the state. Fortunately, the economy has improved and money is starting to be put back into prevention and treatment, with nearly $4 million now allocated to recovery programs.
The University of Northern Georgia (UNG) has several campuses throughout the state that offer a Master of Science in Counseling accredited by the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The Clinical Counseling Track prepares graduates to work at drug and alcohol treatment centers, hospitals and community agencies where the demand is most acute.
Behavior Therapists Can Help Reduce the Growing Number of Suicides
Suicide rates have continued to rise in Georgia, especially among adolescents and those living in rural areas of the state. For adolescents aged 10-24, suicide has become the third leading cause of death in the state. In December 2017, the Georgia Commission on Children’s Mental Health recommended that the state take on a “multipronged suicide prevention approach." Additionally, rural areas in the state and across the country have seen an uptick in suicide rates, which is mainly attributed to lack of access to mental health care in these areas.
One of the leading treatment options for those with thoughts of suicide is Dialectal Behavior Therapy (DBT). Dialectal Behavior Therapy is a more nuanced version of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBAT), designed to teach people how to manage and accept their emotions.
A Master of Science in Psychology from Augusta University can lead the way to a rewarding career in behavior therapy. The college offers a variety of internships both on campus and in the community to give students the experience needed to be successful in serving members of their own communities. And with Georgia’s diverse population, there is also a need for bi-lingual therapists in this and other areas of practice.
Schools Continue to Need Experienced Psychologists
Bibb County, and others, continue to struggle with a shortage of professionals qualified to care for the psychological needs of school-aged children. The school system currently employs 56 counselors for the district’s nearly 24,000 students, which works out to just one counselor for every 450 students. According to Brooke Widner, coordinator of psychological services for the district, the shortages are due to retirements and the fact that there are less people entering the profession.
School psychologists and counselors are an important part of the school system. Not only do they help guide students in their academic careers, they also provide assistance in personal and social development. Programs like the Educational Psychology M.S. at Georgia State University, prepare students for careers in the educational system. University of Georgia Online Learning offers a more specialized program with a Master of Education in Educational Psychology, Applied Cognition and Development.
The high demand for school psychologists, and the availability of programs in the state, make this the perfect time to pursue a master’s degree in psychology and start a career in Georgia’s public school system.