Psychology Master’s Degree Programs in Louisiana

Even in a place known for celebrating, here in Louisiana we’re also living with the reputation that comes with having the highest murder-rate in the country – for 28 years running. In 2015 the Mental Health America report ranked Louisiana as one of the worst states in the nation for comprehensive mental health care, ranking high for mental illness and low for accessibility to mental health services.

It’s little surprise then that the criminal justice system is left to pick up the slack in many cases. The Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office is struggling to keep pace with the revolving door as non-violent offenders with mental illness with nowhere to go for care are all to often ending up in the city jail.

Poverty, substance abuse and the stress of life in post-Katrina Louisiana even all these years later have created the perfect storm for social ills and the psychological issues that come with it. There’s no question about it, there’s an urgent and growing need for psychological services in the state, and leaders are responding with an initiative to fund the construction of a mental health crisis center, a project that’s expected to create new positions for clinical psychologists and counselors. For anyone considering a career in psychology, right now is the perfect time to take a serious look at earning a master’s degree in the field.

Master's Path to Licensure in Louisiana

Louisiana requires its psychologists to have a doctorate degree to practice under a full authority license through the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists.

With a master's degree, you’ll be laying the foundation for your doctorate, while also meeting the requirements for other state licensing options. For instance, to become a school psychologist with the Level B Department of Education Certification you only need a master’s to meet all the requirements to begin a rewarding career within the state's school system.

The state board also issues licenses in Behavior Intervention, Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) and Substance Abuse Counseling to qualified candidates with master’s degrees.

An Abundance of Choices for an Abundance of Needs

Louisiana is home to a number of world-class institutions offering master's degree programs in psychology. For example, students attending Tulane University have the choice of an M.S. in Psychological Science (PSYC) or in Behavioral Health (PSBH) while Northwestern State University of Louisiana offers a M.S. in Clinical Psychology (MSc).

And for those who logistically can not make it to a campus to attend classes, colleges like ULM University of Louisiana offer a Master's in Psychology degree online.

Marriage and Family Therapy is Crucial in a State with High Divorce Rates 

With the fourth highest divorce rate in the U.S., Louisiana has no shortage of divorce lawyers. What it needs more of, is marriage and family therapists. Having a spouse with mental illness is one reason that couples opt for divorce. The stress of dealing with a mentally-ill partner can lead to frustration, resentment and ultimately, the need to escape the marriage. Furthermore, the depression that comes after a separation can lead to additional mental health issues.

Children are the innocent victims of divorce and often have emotional and behavioral issues resulting from it. Marriage and Family Therapists (MFT) are vital in helping families avoid divorce when possible, or navigate and adapt to life after separating. The M.A. in MFT at ULM College of Health Sciences is a COAMFTE-accredited program that will qualify you for the MFT credential, and prepare you with the skills and understanding you need to effectively counsel people through relationship challenges.

School Psychologists Offer Hope

School psychologists are sometimes the only adult a school-aged child may feel comfortable talking with. The hectic pace of the classroom many times leaves the teacher with little time to interact with students on a more personal level and those same kids may not have a positive role model at home. School psychologists may be the key to guiding these children though the tougher times of adolescence, especially for the more impoverished kids who would never have the means to pay for any type of mental health service.

School shootings have been steadily rising across the nation and Louisiana is no exception. In fact, the state has over three-times the incidents of violence in schools as the state of New York, even though it has one-quarter the population.  Even when a mass shooting occurs at a school far across the nation, it affects the psyche of all students. Fear, confusion, resentment, and sadness have become part of the daily life of students. Trained school psychologists are needed more now than at any other time in history.

There are also a number of online master's programs available in educational psychology. Louisiana State University Shreveport is one option, offering a three-year Specialist in School Psychology graduate program for anyone interested in pursuing a career in educational psychology.

Substance Abuse Counselors Needed for Outreach Programs

In East Baton Rouge, overdose deaths went up a staggering 25% from 2016 to 2017. The deaths come in all forms from homeless unknowns to beloved sons and daughters. Randy and Jenny Gray of Baton Rouge can attest to the devastation of losing their only son to a heroin overdose at the age of 20. Jenny Gray doesn't blame the heroin for her son's death, but instead looks beyond to understand what led to his substance abuse in the first place. Her answer: anxiety.  Anxiety is a key factor in many cases of drug abuse. In one study, the Psychiatric Services journal noted that 48 percent of its patients with substance abuse disorders had anxiety or a combination of anxiety and depression.

Fortunately, the state will receive nearly $30 million in funding to help fight the opioid crisis. The state is hoping to achieve the same success that Vermont found with the "hub-and-spoke" model that establishes addiction treatment centers as centralized locations, and ongoing treatment centers at several branch locations throughout the community.

This means master’s-prepared Licensed Addiction Counselors (LAC) will be in even greater demand as those funds begin to be dispersed throughout the communities of Louisiana.

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