What does a Clinical Psychologist do?

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What is a Clinical Psychologist?

A clinical psychologist is a psychologist who works specifically in a clinical mental health setting. These are the types of psychologists that most people think of when they hear the term "psychologist." Instead of performing research or participating in studies, these psychologists work in the field with patients.

Clinical psychologists are often portrayed in movies and television shows, and it is important to realize that clinical psychologists may have a very different day-to-day work life than what is shown on TV. They may have some exciting, interesting cases, but much of their day is spent doing more ordinary tasks like filling out paperwork.

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What does a Clinical Psychologist do?

A clinical psychologist works directly in the mental health field with patients. They may work with patients one-on-one or in a group setting, diagnosing and treating patients for various different mental disorders. Clinical psychologists differ from other types of psychologists because they specialize in abnormal psychology.

It is important to note that clinical psychologists typically do not prescribe medication. By law, only psychiatrists are able to prescribe psychiatric medication. There is now legislation that has been passed in several US states that allows some clinical psychologists to prescribe medication, and this has sparked a debate whether this is a good thing or not. While psychologists and psychiatrists may sound similar and both work in the mental health field, they perform very different roles and require different types of education.

A clinical psychologist's goal is to help their patients understand their problems and then recover from their problems. Clinical psychologists use the most up-to-date version of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual), which is published by the American Psychological Association (APA) to guide and confirm their diagnosis, as well as their treatment plans. Clinical psychologists must tailor their treatment plans to each individual patient, as different people have different problems, and respond best to different forms of therapy. Even two people with the same problem may respond very differently to treatment and recovery plans.

How to become a Clinical Psychologist

If someone aims to be a clinical psychologist, it is best for them to earn a B.A. in Psychology. During their undergraduate years, a person must maintain a high GPA, as becoming a clinical psychologist necessitates a graduate-level education. In fact, in most areas, someone must earn a Ph.D. in Psychology in order to work as a clinical psychologist. The exception to this is a select few Canadian provinces which only require a master's degree.

Earning a Ph.D. in Psychology will require earning high marks in graduate level classes, completing a Master's thesis and a dissertation, participating in university-sponsored research, and gaining hands-on experience in the clinical sector. Earning a Ph.D in Psychology combines bits of doctoral programs from the liberal arts to the sciences to med school in order to adequately prepare a student to practice psychology with patients after they have earned their degree and gained their license.

After earning a Ph.D. in Psychology, the student must then take a licensing exam for their state in order to practice. Many states also require that the student complete a residency or internship program before they are able to apply for their license. Earning a Ph.D. in Psychology may take just as long, or longer, than going to medical school.

  • Top Clinical Psychology Programs psychology.about.com

    With nearly 200 clinical graduate programs to choose from, finding the school that is the right fit for your goals and needs can be a challenge. Here are ten of the top clinical psychology programs ranked according to U.S. News and World Report.

  • Ranking Of Clinical Psychology Doctoral Programs www.socialpsychology.org

    This page lists U.S. and Canadian clinical psychology programs rank-ordered by how well their graduates performed on the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology.

What is the workplace of a Clinical Psychologist like?

Clinical psychologists find work in various mental health, medical, and social service settings. Many clinical psychologists are self-employed, working in their own private practice with clients. Others are partners with other mental health professionals in a practice. Still others work beneath other mental health professionals in a private practice.

Some clinical psychologists choose to work in mental health hospitals or group homes, such as eating behavior residential programs. Others find employment through government or charity-sponsored programs serving the community, or through university programs that serve the students and staff of that particular school. There is a need for clinical psychologists in every community all over the world.

External Reading

  • Dr. Joseph Luciani Clinical Psychologist careersinpsychology.org

    Dr. Joe Luciani has been a practicing clinical psychologist for more than thirty years and he specializes in self-coaching.

  • An Interview With Burton Danet www.clinicalpsychology.net

    Dr. Burton Danet received his PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Minnesota. He worked for more than 25 years as a clinical psychologist in Manhattan, New York, both in private practice and as consultant to agencies/clinics within the New York metropolitan area.

  • Becoming A Clinical Psychologist www.innerbody.com

    To work as a clinical psychologist is to experience the immense satisfaction of helping people overcome emotional and psychological difficulties. Unlike psychiatrists, clinical psychologists do not prescribe medications and instead address psychological issues with a variety of techniques that depend in part upon their area of specialty.

  • What Does A Clinical Psychologist Do? www.ehow.com

    A clinical psychologist helps people deal with their problems, adjust to life's difficulties, and change their behavior for the better. Typically they work with people who need more intensive or longer-term intervention than those seeing a counseling psychologist, though the positions are similar in many ways.

  • What Is Clinical Psychology? psychology.about.com

    Clinical psychology is the branch of psychology concerned with the assessment and treatment of mental illness, abnormal behavior and psychiatric problems.

  • Careers In Clinical Psychology psychology.about.com

    Clinical psychology is concerned with the assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental disorders.