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Careers in ClinicalPsychology

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What Is Clinical Psychology?:

Clinical psychology is concerned with the assessment, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental disorders. While they often work in medical settings, clinical psychologists are not medical doctors and do not prescribe medications in most states.

Clinical psychology represents the largest subfield of psychologists. Specialty areas within clinical psychology include child mental health, adult mental health, learning disabilities, emotional disturbances, substance abuse, geriatrics and health psychology.

What Do Clinical Psychologists Do?:

Clinical psychologists often work in hospitals, private practice or academic settings. Clinicians are trained in a range of techniques and theoretical approaches. Some specialize in treating certain psychological disorders, while others work with clients suffering from a wide variety of problems. Clinical psychologists treat some of the most severe psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and depression.
In addition to working with clients, clinical psychologists have to keep detailed records of client assessment, diagnosis, therapeutic goals and treatment notes. These records help clinicians and clients track progress and are often needed for billing and insurance purposes.

How Much Do Clinical Psychologists Typically Earn?:

According to the APA Research Office, in 2001 the average salary for a licensed clinical psychologist was $72,000. Of the psychologists surveyed, 65% worked in private practice, 19% worked in medical settings and 2% worked in some other human services setting. Learn more about the typical salaries for clinical psychologists.
The U. S. Department of Labor?s Occupational Outlook Handbook reports that employment in psychology is expected to grow faster than the average. The rising need for qualified mental health care professionals will contribute to a demand for clinical psychologists.

What Type of Degree Do Clinical Psychologists Need?:

While some individuals find work with a master?s degree, most positions require a doctoral degree in clinical psychology. Some graduate programs accepts applicants with undergraduate degrees in other disciplines, but most encourage students to get a bachelor?s degree in psychology before pursuing graduate study in clinical psychology.
There are two major training models for doctoral degrees. The traditional Ph.D. in Psychology (or Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology) emphasizes the role of the research and science. The Psy.D. degree (Doctor of Psychology) is primarily focused on clinical and practitioner work. Psy.D. programs are attractive to many students because they typically take approximately a year less time to complete than a Ph.D. On the other hand, Ph.D. programs tend to provide better funding of graduate students.

Is a Career in Clinical Psychology Right for Me?:

Clinical psychologists need to have excellent communication skills. It is also important to be creative when developing treatment plans and approaches. Before you decide on a career in clinical psychology, contact local human services providers about volunteer opportunities that may be available. Clinical psychology can be both a demanding and deeply rewarding field and volunteer experiences can help you decide if a career in clinical psychology is right for you.

What Are the Pros and Cons of a Career in Clinical Psychology?:

Benefits of a Career in Clinical Psychology

  • Helping people overcome problems can be extremely rewarding.
  • Differing client needs and challenges allow clinicians to search for creative solutions.
  • Opportunities for self-employment.

Downsides of a Career in Clinical Psychology
  • Insurance companies require that clinicians keep extensive client records, so there is a considerable amount of paperwork.
  • There is a risk of burnout due to the demanding nature of therapy.
  • Clinical psychologists often work long hours with clients who can be demanding, argumentative, or unstable.
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