Air Force PsychologistsThe roles of Air Force psychologists have changed since the terrorist attacks of 2001. Prior to the attacks, these professionals were responsible for conducting tests on, and selecting cadets to be trained as fighter pilots. However, more Air Force psychologists are now working closely with service members and veterans emotionally impacted by war. They may provide counseling services, supervise group therapy sessions, and provide other services.
Recent wars overseas have also created demand for additional Air Force psychologists. Multiple deployments, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and marital problems among Air Force personnel and their spouses, are just a few factors creating spuring demand for Air Force psychologists.
It is difficult for many members of the Air Force to cope with the stresses of combat. Those involved in combat missions come across gore and other disturbing sights that remain within their memories for the remainder of their lives. Likewise, it is equally difficult struggling with the anxiety of being killed in combat at any moment and losing close friends. As a result, many Air Force veterans return home with severe cases of PTSD.
The Air Force has developed the Behavioral Health Optimization Program to address the issue many Air Force personnel face. In recent months this program has become even more effective as numerous psychologists and social work professionals have been placed in military hospitals after it was instituted. As a result, service members struggling with emotional problems are more likely to consult with mental health professionals.
Psychologists employed by the Air Force can also be found in recruitment and deployment facilities. Those working at deployment facilities frequently organize and supervise substance abuse and suicide prevention programs. Many also offer counseling services for service members struggling with anxiety.
It is difficult for civilians to comprehend the psychological scars that combat personnel incur. Although some combat personnel can cope effectively with what they've experienced, many cannot. Since so many veterans struggle with emotional problems upon returning home, it is the responsibility of psychologists to test, diagnose, and develop treatments designed to help them cope with their struggles and reintegrate into civilian life. Many Air Force psychologists work closely with injured veterans in hospitals that are dealing with recurring pain and serious physical and psychological injuries.
Air Force psychologists also work with the families of service members. Although they are not under combat stress, family members must struggle with the death of loved ones, stress from numerous deployments of their loved ones, and other emotional stresses. Air Force psychologists organize support groups and often work with couples living on base struggling with marital problems.
Although Air Force psychologists have additional responsibilities during wartime, they still administer tests for, and evaluate, fighter pilots. Air Force psychologist specialists work closely with military commanders to identify an select pilots for missions best suiting their skills and talents. Whatever responsibilities they are assigned, one of the main responsibilities of Air Force psychologists will be to test and evaluated Air Force pilots.
Those interested in working as Air Force psychologists must develop an understanding about a variety of aviation subjects. Many people develop this knowledge through serving a few years in the Air Force before acquiring formal education in psychology.
Many licensed psychologists without military experience join the Air Force and become officers. They are stationed in military hospitals, deployment facilities, and warzones. Opportunities also exist for non-military, licensed psychologists to assist veterans, service members and their families.
Because of the increased need for psychologists, the Air Force is offering larger signing bonuses and tuition assistance for psychologists interested in this opportunity. Once training is completed, Air Force psychologists can work in various positions at military bases in the United States or around the world.
One of the nice things about working for the Air Force is that you won't be burdened with running a practice. You'll be able to focus 100% of your time on help your patients.
Minimum Education RequirementsTo become a clinical psychologist with the Air Force a current unrestricted license is required. Candidates must also possess a Ph.D. or Psy.D. in counseling psychology or clinical psychology from a program accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA). In addition, candidates must also have completed a minimum of one year post-doctoral training and an intership which has been APA approved.
Becoming a Commissioned OfficerPart of becoming an Air Force psychologists is becoming a commissioned officer within the Air Force. This process includes a 5-week training program where you'll learn about the military as well as the military healthcare system. The program will include physical, mental and leadership training.
Health Professions Scholarship ProgramThrought the Air Force aspiring psychologists have the opportunity to receive a scholarship that will pay all tuition costs and schooling fees, including supplies, textbooks, and equipment. The scholarship program also provides participants a monthly living expense allowance. In order to take advantage of this scholarship opportunity participants are required to spend 45 days on active duty in the Air Force, and after graduation serve active duty for a minimum of three years (and/or a year for each year the scholarship money was provided.) For those who are interested in working for the Air Force, this scholarship is a great way to get the schooling required to become a licensed clinical psychologist.
You can learn more about becoming a clinical psychologist for the Air Force at http://www.airforce.com/careers/detail/clinical-psychologist.
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