Can I Get an Associate Degree in Psychiatry?

While there are no associate degree programs in psychiatry, you can earn an associate's degree or a certificate in psychiatric technology. A psychiatric technician helps monitor and care for patients who have mental health concerns. Schools offering Clinical Psychology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Psychiatric Technology Program Overview

Although associate's degree programs are not offered in psychiatry, you can earn a certificate or associate's degree in psychiatric technology. Certificate programs are more common, and they tend to differ from associate's degree programs only in that certificate programs don't include general education courses, such as math, English and science. Core courses cover psychological and basic nursing concepts. Many programs also include clinical work. Associate's degree programs require about two years of study, while certificate programs may be as short as one semester.

Important Information About Psychiatric Technology Programs

Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent, clear criminal background, good physical and mental health
Possible careers Mental health technician, health care technician, behavioral health technician
Continuing Education Required in some states, including 30 hours every 2 years in California
Degree/Certificate Levels Associate in Science degree, Psychiatric Technician certificate

Nursing Courses

Nursing courses in a psychiatric technician associate's degree program typically cover the fundamentals of nursing. You may learn about healthcare systems, professionalism, ethics, diagnostic criteria and general care duties. You might use what you learn to help you when caring for patients. Even though you won't be a nurse, many of your job duties will be similar to those of a nurse, such as monitoring patients and assisting with hygiene tasks.

Developmental Psychology Courses

You'll typically work with patients who have a variety of mental health issues. Developmental psychology includes the study of conditions such as epilepsy, cerebral palsy and mental retardation. Courses may teach you how to handle behavioral issues in people with developmental conditions. You may also study the legal aspects and responsibilities of working with such individuals.

Psychiatric Disorders Courses

Courses in psychiatric disorders cover the basics of working with psychiatric patients. You'll study major disorders and psychiatric terminology. Some of the topics you might learn about include symptoms and treatment methods. You're also likely to learn what role you will play as a psychiatric technician.

Clinical Courses

Clinical courses allow you to apply what you've learned in the classroom in a practical manner. You might complete clinical courses that allow you to work in a nursing care facility, with disabled patients or in therapy sessions. Most of what you'll do during a clinical course is hands-on work.

Licensure and Certification

As a psychiatric technician, you would work under the supervision of a licensed psychiatrist or other health care provider. According to the American Association of Psychiatric Technicians (AAPT), four states required psychiatric technicians to be licensed as of 2014 (www.psychtechs.org). AAPT also offers voluntary national certification, which many employers desire.

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