What is Clinical Psychology?
Clinical Psychology is the branch of Psychology that relates to the assessment and treatment of individuals with mental health disorders. Mental health disorders can range from various psychological abnormalities. By definition, a mental health disorder is the impairment or abnormality of an individual’s behavioral, emotional or cognitive state. These abnormalities can cause mild to severe disruptive behavior in an individual’s life, and therefore affect the ability of that individual to function according to the norms of society.
Clinical Psychologist Education
The education of a clinical psychologist is based on a strong foundation of psychology. This educational background begins at the college level and ends at the doctorate level. While at the college level, a major in psychology is required in order to obtain a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology. During these 4 years of study, many psychology courses are recommended. These courses, which range from introductory to higher level psychology courses, will serve as the foundation and building blocks for graduate school.
In graduate school, the psychology courses present a heavier workload and are much more intense. At this level, the intention is to build a solid foundation in the study of psychology using the building blocks from college. Here, a master’s degree is earned, within 1 to 2 years.
As the education process continues to the level of a doctorate degree, the study becomes specialized in order to produce expertise in a chosen subcategory of psychology. At this level, there are two paths to choose from. As a potential, clinical psychologist, one path is that of a Ph. D, while the other is that of a Psy. D.
A Ph. D., or Doctor of Philosophy, is chosen by those who intend to use their degree to pursue research in the field of clinical psychology. A Psy. D, or Doctor of Psychology, is chosen by those who intend to pursue a career in clinical practice. Obtaining either degree is the direct result of a 4 to 6 year intense, study program beyond the master’s degree. In the process of earning either degree, a 2 to 6 month internship program must be completed in addition to completing a dissertation.
With a Ph. D, the path of a social psychologist can be pursued. Social psychologists are individuals who study human behavior. They may choose to study the influential behavioral patterns concerning social perception and social interaction. The study of social perception relates to the idea of how a person sees themselves in group settings and in society overall.
With a Psy. D, the path of a clinical psychologist is taken. This relatively new field in psychology is an alternative to the traditional doctorate degree in psychology – the Ph. D. This relatively new field opens the window of opportunity for social psychologist to change career paths. A career change from a social psychology to as clinical psychologist is usually done as matter of personal fulfillment. This career change, however, will result in an increased income and the appropriate coursework.
The Job of a Clinical Psychologist
Clinical psychologists are skilled individuals who are trained to conduct assessments, diagnose disorders, and provide treatment to individuals who are clinically diagnosed with a mental disorder. By choosing this profession, the work environment can vary greatly. While some practitioners work in the clinical environment such as a hospitals or private medical practices, there are others who may choose an educational setting. Regardless of the setting, the overall practice is still the same. Here is a list of some common practices found among clinical psychologist:
A Typical Day of Some Common Practices
1. Help mentally disabled individuals adapt to basic life skills.
2. Solve relationship issues.
3. Counsel grieving families
4. Provide psychotherapy as needed.
5. Assist with emotional and social behavioral issues.
Clinical Psychologist Salary
Due to the high level of education and training that a clinical psychologist must receive, the salary levels are quite attractive. Although the overall salary for clinical psychologist is high, it varies according to education and the number of yeas in practice.
According to the American Psychology Association, the starting salary for a clinical psychologist is $45,000-$55,000 annually. For the position of post doctoral research, the salary ranged from $25,000-$35,000 annually. Additionally, for those with 5 to 10 years of work experience, the salary could range from $65,000 to $90,000 annually. Accordingly, the medium salary is $68,640 annually.
Careers in the field of psychology are quite vast. With a 4 year degree in psychology, continuing education can lead to a master’s degree in psychology. Further education can lead to a doctorate degree in psychology. If you are interest in this field of study, it can be an exciting and rewarding career for you. With several subcategories of psychology, there are numerous career opportunities to pursue. With this in mind, there is always room for growth in addition to the opportunity to maximize your income.
Clinical Psychologist Resources
Society of Clinical Psychology – A professional organization that keeps members up to date on newest research and treatments, meetings, and publications.
Mind Hacks – A psychology blog written by a psychology PhD with a focus in clinical psychology. The blog covers general psychology, but is a great read.
World of Psychology – Written by a clinical psychologist, this blog also includes forums and mental health resources and research.