Within the various fields of psychology, there is one that stands out as possibly being the most well known – clinical psychology.
But what is clinical psychology, and how do you go about pursuing a career in this area?
Clinical Psychology Definition
Broadly speaking this is the field of psychology that deals with the many mental disorders & illnesses that are prevalent in today’s population, along with the well-being of people in general.
So this can cover a range of areas from research and teaching, to diagnosis and treatment
However, in today’s language when people refer to clinical psychology they are generally referring to the diagnosis & treatment aspect rather than the research and study i.e the mental health profession commonly known as clinical psychology.
This shift in the definition is something that has occurred over the past few decades with the growth in the number of psychologists that are choosing to dedicate their careers to the treatment of psychological disorders rather than focus their efforts on research.
Clinical Psychology Job Description
The main goals of the clinical psychologist are the diagnosis and treatment of mental and psychological disorders.
As research into these disorders improves the understanding of how they arise and take hold, the role of the clinical psychologist becomes more defined in terms of the their ability to diagnose and the treatment options available to them
The main treatment tools used in clinical areas of psychology are psychotherapy and counseling.
The third key treatment option used for patients suffering a psychological disorder is medication, but clinical psychologists are not qualified to prescribe these and must refer their patient to a psychiatrist if they feel that medication could be of benefit.
Clinical Psychology Careers & Job Prospects
It is estimated that the number of practicing clinical psychologists in the U.S more than tripled to over 60,000 in the two decades leading up to 1990.
And while this growth was obviously not sustainable, there is still a very positive outlook on the career prospects within this industry, and it’s estimated that job growth between 2006 and 2016 and more than likely beyond that will be somewhere between 13 – 16%.
And the average salary for a clinical psychologist is quite good – well above what would be considered an average salary.
The average salary would be around the $80,000 mark, with the top earners making well in excess of six figures
How Do You Pursue A Career In Clinical Psychology?
The education and training required to become a clinical psychologist is quite extensive.
You first need to go to college and complete an undergraduate degree.
After that you need to undertake post graduate studies, typically to get either a PhD or a PsyD.
In the past the PhD was the more common path, but in the past couple of decades the PsyD has seen an increase in popularity due to its focus on the more practical aspects of psychology which is exactly the sort of study that is appropriate for someone keen to pursue a career in clinical psychology.
After the studies have been completed you then need to get the required accreditation to practice as a clinical psychologist.
Each state has their own governing body for psychologists and it is through them that you’ll need to get this certification.
All up this process can take as long as a decade, so committing to a career in clinical psychology is not something that should be done lightly.
But the job prospects are good and the job itself can be rewarding as you help people overcome serious psychological disorders that are having a dramatic impact on their quality of life.