One reader asks: "What is the difference between clinical and school psychologists? What are their duties in general, compared to school psychologist, and what do school psychologists do that is different from clinicians?"
A clinical psychologist is a person who has a Ph.D. or Psy.D. in clinical psychology. These professionals usually work directly with mentally ill patients in hospitals or private practice. Clinicians typically spend their time assessing patients, diagnosing mental illnesses and conducting treatment sessions and therapy. In some states (Arizona and Louisiana, for example), they can even prescribe medications to treat psychiatric illnesses. A degree in clinical psychology can take a total of 8 to 9 years of schooling to complete (4 years undergraduate plus 4 to 5 years of grad school).
School psychology has some similarities with clinical psychology, but the work and educational requirements are a bit different. It also requires a four-year undergraduate degree, but graduate school typically requires 2 to 3 years for a master's degree. However, be sure to check out the licensing guidelines in your state, as some states require a doctorate degree. School psychologists usually work directly in schools where they assess student needs and develop educational plans for students. Some also have private practices and perform consulting work for schools and educational businesses. They might deal with everything from helping kids with social problems to helping them cope with serious mental illnesses.
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