How to Become a Clinical Psychologist

What is a Clinical Psychologist?

Clinical psychology refers to a branch of psychology that deals with the diagnoses and treatment of mental disorders, abnormal dispositions, and psychiatric problems. It is a combination of psychological science and treatment procedures of critical and complex human problems. A clinical psychologist is the person who deals with the complete process of prevention, estimation, analysis, and healing of mental disorders.

The American psychologist Lightner Witmer was the first person who coined the term ‘clinical psychology’ in a paper written in 1907. Witmer defined the subject as a study carried through ‘observation or experimentation’. At present days, it is one of the most popular sub-branches in the psychology field.

A clinical psychologist must be a sound person who is able to think objectively and neutrally. S/he must be wise and prudent enough to sort out the problems of people who are going through difficult stages of their life and guide them to the right way, so that they can overcome their troubles.

What Does A Clinical Psychologist Do?

The main duty of such professionals is to reduce the distress and improve the psychological condition of patients. They have their own unique ways to find the causes of mental distress and apply the means to bring positive changes to the patients’ lives.

Clinical psychologists generally offer treatments for:

i. Schizophrenia
ii. Depression
iii. Neurological disorders
iv. Addictive behaviors
v. Personal, professional, or familial relationship problems
vi. Eating disorders
vii. Learning disabilities; and many more

They may adopt a number of different treatment approaches. However, most of them have to perform some typical tasks, such as:

1. Using psychometric tests, observation of behaviors, interviews, etc. to assess patients’ behavior, abilities, and needs.
2. Be creative to devise and monitor perfect programs for therapy and counseling in collaboration with colleagues.
3. Developing and weighing up the provision of service for patients.
4. Acting as counselors and supporting caregivers.
5. Carrying out practical research in order to add to the evidence base of practice in various settings of healthcare sectors.
6. More experienced professionals may keep detailed paperwork about patients in order to track their progress.

In order to handle complex problems of patients, They often work in multidisciplinary team alongside other professionals.

What it Takes to be a Clinical Psychologist?

It is a long process to become a clinical psychologist. In fact, no other sub-branch of psychology takes so much time to be completed as this one does. However, the profession is worthwhile for investing such long period because they are allowed to enjoy a lot of freedom in their career.

The educational requirements for becoming a clinical psychologist are quite painstaking. After earning a bachelor degree, most clinical psychologists have to spend four to six years in graduate school.

Two kinds of degrees are available in the field of clinical psychology – a Ph.D. and a Psy.D. A Ph.D. program is theoretical in nature and is centered on research. On the other hand, a Psy.D. program is more pragmatic in nature and is practice-oriented. Without pursuing these two types of degrees, opportunities are also there for students to enroll into graduate programs that provide a terminal master’s degree.

In the USA, clinical psychologists have to pursue a doctorate degree. They are given training within clinical settings. In the U.K., students can pursue doctorate degree through programs funded by the National Health Service. These programs are very competitive in nature and are centered on both practice and research. Students who want to undertake any one of these programs must have to have experience along with an undergraduate degree in a psychology curriculum approved by the British Psychological Society.

Workplace

The work setting of clinical psychologists varies depending on the specialty or work area. The normal work areas for research psychologists are universities or colleges. They have to teach some courses in each semester besides performing their research responsibilities.

Some industrial psychologists work in corporations or companies. They help companies to manage their employees and key assets better.

Neuropsychologists and forensic psychologists are seen to work in private practice. Neuropsychologists also work in hospitals while forensic psychologists have to perform the clinical verification process in court and court settings.

However, clinical psychologists work in a variety of settings. They often go for private practice or work in public mental health sector. They also work in clinical counseling centers of universities and colleges where they help students to overcome some minor problems, such as adjusting to college life. They are also to be found in office setting working besides other types of mental health professionals, such as social workers and psychiatrists.

Salary

According to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association in 2000, a licensed clinical psychologist earns an average of $87,015. In fact, the typical salary of a clinical psychologist ranges from $51,000 to $90,000.

The salary level may vary according to some factors such as years of practice and experience, level of education, workplace settings, and even on geographical location. A more experienced and highly educated psychologist will definitely earn more than a less educated and experienced psychologist does. Similarly, the salary of a psychologist practicing in a developed country will be higher than that of a psychologist practicing in a developing country.

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