Outside of advances in technology, one of the biggest factors affecting the health care industry and field of psychology today is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)*, commonly referred to as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or "Obamacare." Not only is ACA affecting Texas patients' access to treatment, including mental health care and psychological services, it is also changing the entire landscape of the psychology sector including how psychology schools in Texas are preparing students.
Dr. Bill Raey, President and Chief Executive Officer of OMNI Behavioral Health and an international visiting psychology professor, cautions current and aspiring psychologists to be prepared for this shift.
"With health care reform, psychology as a discipline is changing a lot. It's not going to be sufficient enough to just get a degree in psychology without having a pretty broad multiple disciplinary perspective with the actual application of it, whether through research or practice."
Many Texas universities are preparing students for the changes Dr. Raey mentioned. They are refreshing curriculum and offering online psychology degree programs so prospective students and current psychology professionals are prepared for the rapid changes in the field.
About the expert: Dr. Bill Reay received a Master of Arts degree in quantitative psychology from the Department of Psychology, University of Nebraska-Omaha, and is the founder and CEO of OMNI Behavioral Health, a nonprofit community based behavioral health organization serving more than 600 people a day throughout Nebraska. He was also one of the founding members of the National Federation for Children's Mental Health and the Founding President of the Coalition for Research to Practice. He is a member of the adjunct faculty at the Department of Psychology, University of Nebraska; a visiting professor and lecturer at the University of Habana, Habana, Cuba; and a visiting professor at the Baikal School of International Business, University of Irkutsk, Russian Federation.
Online Psychology Degrees in Texas
Texas boasts a number of schools offering online psychology degree programs and options for students and practicing behavioral sciences professionals.
With more than 90 accredited colleges and universities offering psychology degrees online, many universities such as Texas Tech, the University of Houston, Texas A&M, and Baylor University, to name a few, offer programs ranging from associate to doctoral degrees.
"Many universities have outdated curriculum, and the promise of online programs is they have a tendency to be a little more innovative, or they at least have the environment to be," said Dr. Raey. "Universities who understand the changing work force and work force demands and can tailor their curriculum toward that are going to do extraordinarily well over the next decade."
Only psychology degrees programs can be tailored based on an individual's specific career interests. For example, students can enroll in online psychology programs that specialize in areas including, but not limited to:
- Anxiety and Depression
- Clinical Psychology
- Death, Grief, and Suicidology
- Children and Adolescents
- Families and Couples
- Gender and Sexuality
- Sexual Abuse
- Industrial/Organizational Psychology
In order to practice psychology in the state of Texas, one must obtain a license, which is issued by the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists. There are varying levels of licensure in Texas, so an individual must first determine to what they'd like to practice as the requirements differ for each type of license. The four types of licenses include:
- Licensed Psychologist (Independent Practice)
- Provisionally Licensed Psychology (Supervision Required)
- Licensed Psychological Associated (Supervision Required)
- Licensed Specialist in School Psychology (Independent Practice in Public Schools after one year of licensure)
Psychology Career Outlook in Texas
The psychology profession is changing and will be "retooling," according to Dr. Raey. Psychologists will also make a large impact outside of the health care industry.
"Psychologists will be used in a lot of different professions and disciplines in many ways they haven't been used before based on work force demands," explained Dr. Raey. "The old business model is falling apart, so psychologists can make a huge impact in business as well."
For example, industrial and organizational psychologists can be found in areas such as:
- Workspace design
- Policy development
- Helping business professionals manage a work-life balance
- Data analytics
"Data analytics is going to be very important, and the use of evidence-based practice is going to be exceptionally important over the next few years -- with an eye toward more community care in addition to the institutional care of all populations," Dr. Raey noted.
The Lone Star State has recognized tremendous growth in the psychology sector, which is encouraging news for students and existing professionals who wish to study and practice psychology in the state. Texas is among the top five states with the highest employment levels of psychologists in the country, and according to the most updated occupational employment and wage data from a Bureau of Labor Statistics report from May 2015:
- Projected national job growth: Overall employment of psychologists is projected to grow 19 percent from 2014 to 2024
- Salary: In Texas, clinical, counseling and schools psychologists earn an hourly mean wage of approximately $30.82 with an annual mean wage of $64,130.
"When prospective students are looking to go into psychology," said Dr. Raey, "they really need to look at how it is going to mutate over the next couple decades."
*The Affordable Care Act is a federal statute that was signed into law March 23, 2010, by President Obama. It is intended to reform the health care industry and provide more Americans with access to affordable, quality health care and reduce the growth in U.S. health care spending, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, accessed July 2016, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, accessed July 2016, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/
- American Psychological Association, http://www.apa.org/
- Texas Psychological Association, http://www.texaspsyc.org/