What is a Clinical Psychologist?

A Clinical Psychologist is a specialized type of Psychologist. Also known as: Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Mental Health 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.

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.

Find your perfect career

Would you make a good clinical psychologist? Sokanu's free assessment reveals how compatible you are with a career across 5 dimensions!

80% Match?
Take the free career test

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.

What is the difference between a psychologist and a clinical psychologist?

Psychologists seek to understand and explain thoughts, emotions, feelings, and behaviour.

A psychologist refers to someone who has completed a four year university-based psychology degree. To be a registered psychologist you need to have completed university plus two years of supervised clinical experience.

A clinical psychologist is someone who has completed four years of university, a two year master's degree, and then another two years of supervised clinical training. Clinical psychologists also have continuing education on an annual basis. There are also clinical psychologists who have completed a PhD, or a doctorate of clinical psychology, and these highly qualified clinicians can use the title of 'doctor'.

Also relevant for Psychologist



Title Company Location Info

Further 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.

  • Careers In Clinical Psychology psychology.about.com

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Similar Careers

Collections With This Career

Jobs for people who are interested in Counseling and Helping
Discover careers for people who are interested in Counseling and Helping. Read More
INFJ Careers
INFJs are clever, and need to be able to exercise their insightfulness and independence, and contribute to the well-being of humanity on a personal level. Read More

Find your perfect career

Would you make a good clinical psychologist? Sokanu's free assessment reveals how compatible you are with a career across 5 dimensions!

80% Match?
Take the free career test