For Bay Area resident Dr. Tracy Thomas, a career in clinical psychology and helping people is as good as it gets. Based in San Francisco, but serving clients worldwide, Dr. Thomas knows exactly what it takes to enter into a profession that helps people become “their best version of themselves and in their everyday lives.” Talking in-depth about her career and education, she also shares expert advice on what it takes for people thinking of entering a career in psychology.

(Photo Courtesy of Dr. Tracy Thomas)

(Photo Courtesy of Dr. Tracy Thomas)

What is your background and education?

“I spent most of my early career in business management. I graduated from Sonoma State University with a degree in management, marketing and political science. After 10+ years in the corporate world and with a master’s in organizational development, I sought a career change and pursued my Ph.D. in counseling psychology from Walden University.”

What do you love about your profession?

“I grew up helping people feel better. I do things every single day that I love – to sit with a human being and to help them actually help themselves enjoy life. I get to help people make themselves happy and that is as good as it gets.”

What academic standards are necessary to complete in order to become a psychologist?

“A doctoral degree from an accredited university is required, while undergoing a program geared towards licensure. To become a licensed psychologist where you’re practicing psychotherapy versus an educator, you undergo a program that includes the doctoral dissertation, practicum internship hours and postdoctoral hours, where you are working, counseling and other aspects of the field. Once completed, you must take comprehensive exams from the California Board of Psychology.”

As an expert in the field, what advice can you share for individuals seeking a career as a psychologist?

“First ask yourself why do you want to do something; what is the meaning of it, does it help people. For me, I always considered myself a lifetime student in the field, a student of human behavior. For students in psychology, I would say, why do you want to help people? What do you think it will bring you? For me, helping people feels like what I am supposed to do, it feels almost like breathing. Helping people is absolutely nurturing to me.”

Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on

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