Clinical psychologists assess, diagnose, and treat people living with mental health problems. These specialists comprise the largest percentage of U.S. psychologists. Clinical psychologists often specialize in bi-polar disorders, personality disorders, schizophrenia, depression, and extreme anxiety. Clinical psychologists administer counseling to people coping with emotional problems, bad relationships, substance abuse, and divorces, etc. Clinical psychologists administer various assessment and treatment methods and typically tailor treatment to individual needs.
Clinical psychologists often run private practices. Many clinical psychologists exclusively work with couples, groups, or people with specific problems. They can often be found working with patients at hospitals and other medical facilities to remain in close contact with doctors and other specialists providing medical care. Clinical psychologists also work as teachers and researchers at medical schools, colleges, and universities. Clinical psychologists also counsel patients coping with chronic pain and serious injuries at physical rehabilitation centers. Other places where clinical psychologists work include schools, community health clinics, psychiatric hospitals, and drug rehab centers.
Clinical psychologists can specialize in these fields: health psychology (the study of the relationship between physical and mental health), geropsychology, child psychology, and neuropsychology. Neuropsychologists are experts in the relationship between behavior and brain function, and geropsychologists counsel elderly individuals coping with stress, anxiety, and other problems. Many specialists become experts in the following sub-specialties: substance abuse, learning disabilities, emotional disorders, and cognitive disorders.
Psychologists are usually not permitted to prescribe medicine since they’re not doctors, but psychologists practicing in Louisiana and New Mexico are permitted to prescribe a limited number of medications. Psychiatrists can prescribe medication because they’re doctors.
Clinical psychologists are currently in high-demand nationwide. Clinical psychologists work in the following settings:
- Veterans’ and military hospitals
- Government agencies
- Drug rehabilitation and correctional facilities
- Colleges and universities
- Elementary and secondary schools
- Mental health hospitals and community centers
- Hospitals and medical clinics
- Group and private practices
Assessment and Diagnosis
Effective clinical psychologists stay up to date with current research to effectively assess and diagnose cognitive, neurodevelopmental, and maladaptive interpersonal disorders since extensive research is currently being conducted in these fields.
Good clinical psychologists are familiar with, and apply, the techniques outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-R). After patients are diagnosed, clinical psychologists treat or refer them to competent mental health specialists. After treatment is provided, good clinical psychologists can decipher whether treatments should be continued or altered to meet patients’ needs. Continuing with ineffective treatments can prolong problems.
Clinical psychologists administer various treatments, including psychotherapy, to help patients overcome emotional and behavioral problems. People struggling with anxiety and depression also frequently have poor physical health.
Students preparing for clinical psychology careers learn about various types of psychotherapy treatments to have the ability to assess all types of patients and tailor therapy to individual needs.
Clinical psychologists usually get hired at group practices or establish private practices. Just more than 60 percent of these specialists run private practices. They often specialize. Specialized clinics that staff clinical psychologists specializing in humanistic, psychoanalytic, and cognitive-behavioral therapies are located nationwide.
Clinical psychologists working at specialized hospitals, such as cancer, children’s, or psychiatric hospitals, provide individualized and specialized care. For example, those working at children’s hospitals are typically experts in childhood emotional and neurodevelopmental disorders.
Clinical forensic psychologists, criminal investigation and evaluation specialists, must understand how the legal system works. They must also understand how to assess whether accused criminals are competent enough to stand trial.
Clinical sports psychologists receive extensive cognitive-behavioral therapy training since they work with clients attempting to change their behavior and reach performance goals.
These specialists practice in clinical settings:
- Forensic Psychologist
- Child Psychologist
- Domestic Violence Psychologist
- Senior Psychologists at hospitals
- Health Psychologist
- Child Abuse psychologist
- Prison Psychologist
- Military Psychologist
- Mood Disorder Psychologist
- Substance Abuse Psychologist
- Research Psychologist
- Sports Psychologist
- Professor of Psychology
Education and Training
Clinical psychologists with master’s degrees easily land entry-level jobs. Those with doctorate degrees enjoy better job opportunities. Some clinical psychology master’s programs admit students without undergraduate psychology degrees, but most programs prefer applicants with psychology degrees.
Most people interested in clinical psychology obtain Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) degrees. Students earning PsyDs are taught how to administer psychotherapy, while students earning PhD’s conduct research and prepare for careers as researchers. PsyD programs require less time to complete and provide more practical job opportunities. Students earning PhDs typically receive larger stipends than PsyD students.