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What Is Clinical Psychology?

Clinical psychology deals with diagnosing and providing therapy for various types of mental disorders. Continue reading for an overview of this field, including specialty areas of practice, and for information on becoming a clinical psychologist.

Clinical Psychology Overview

Clinical psychology is a branch of psychology that involves the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. Clinical psychology deals with a variety of mental conditions that include depression, manic depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Other, less severe problems, such as marital problems, shyness and fears, are also treated by clinical psychologists. As a clinical psychologist, you may work directly with patients, counselling individuals, families or other groups of people. Individuals interested in a career in clinical psychology may also work in research, testing various therapies and drugs.

Important Facts About Psychologists

Required Education Doctoral degree
Work Environment Private practice offices, clinics, hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, mental health facilities
Median Salary (2018) $76,990 (for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 14% (for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Areas of Specialization

Clinical psychology is a very broad field of psychology. There are several subjects that you can concentrate on, and a few of these are discussed briefly below:

  • Neuropsychology: In this field, you study the relationship between the brain and behaviour, often working with individuals who have suffered a brain injury or are afflicted with an illness like Parkinson's Disease.
  • Health psychology: You investigate the relationship between mental states and health or illness.
  • Child and adolescent psychology: You help clients deal with problems related to their age group, and you may work with children who are disabled or have been abused.
  • Adult psychology and gerontology: You may help adults deal with the effects of ageing.
  • Marriage and family psychology: Working with couples or families, you can help them resolve areas of conflict and repair relationships.
  • Forensic psychology: You may determine if someone is mentally stable to stand for a trial and treat inmates regarding the nature of their crimes.

Education

A Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology is the minimum educational requirement in order to obtain licensure as a clinical psychologist to work in private practice. You may be able to enter a Ph.D. program with a bachelor's degree or a master's degree. Graduation requirements include coursework, a practicum, an internship, comprehensive examinations, research and a dissertation. Classes you may take include social psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, psychopathology, multicultural psychology, experimental design and psychological research methods. Additional courses depend on your area of specialization.

All independently practising psychologists must be licensed by their states, which typically involves earning a Ph.D., completing an internship, obtaining professional work experience and passing one or more examinations.