Clinical psychology is a broad field that encompasses specialists such as health psychologists, neuropsychologists, and geropsychologists, all of which use psychotherapeutic methods. To become a clinical psychologist, a doctoral degree in psychology, licensure, completed internships, and experience are needed.
Clinical psychologists use knowledge acquired from graduate school and professional experience to diagnose and treat mental disorders and other issues that can range from schizophrenia to grief. Unlike psychiatrists, who prescribe medicine, psychologists treat patients through psychotherapy. Clinical psychologists work in a variety of areas, and many specialize in treating specific types of patients and illnesses. They need a license to see clients, and licensure typically requires a doctoral degree and completion of an internship.
|Required Education||Ph.D. or Psy.D.|
|Licensure||Required; candidates must pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||20% for clinical, counseling and school psychologists (much faster than average)|
|Average Salary (2015)*||$76,040 for clinical, counseling and school psychologists|
*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
As many continue to turn to psychologists for issues such as depression, addiction, mental disorders and relationship problems, demand for clinical psychologists continues to rise. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts job growth will rise 20% from 2014 to 2024 (www.bls.gov). Applicants who hold a doctoral degree, have completed an internship, and have one or more years of professional experience should greatly increase their employment potential.
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Job Opportunities for a Clinical Psychologist
A health psychologist works to further well-being by identifying and exploring how factors such as environment, behavior and biology affect an individual's health. Health psychologists develop and implement programs that help manage health-related psychological and psychical problems, such as stress, smoking and obesity. They conduct patient interviews, personality tests, behavior assessments and surveys. After gather information, they then use the results to devise treatment plans. Health psychologists work in various settings, including community health centers, hospitals, rehabilitation centers and schools. They may also work in specialized areas, including oncology, pain management and women's health, according to the American Psychological Association (www.health-psych.org).
Psychologists who specialize in clinical neuropsychology develop effective treatments by studying the relationship between behavior and the brain. Neuropsychologists treat patients suffering from degenerative diseases and psychiatric conditions, such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and schizophrenia. People who suffer cognitive problems and brain injuries may also receive treatment from neuropsychologists. Neuropsychologists diagnose conditions and develop treatment plans by performing evaluations that identify strengths and weaknesses. Depending on the patient, these evaluations may test an individual's concentration, intelligence, motor skills, language, memory, problem-solving skills, perception and personality.
Elderly patients facing physical and mental issues related to age might seek counsel from geropsychologists. These clinical psychologists offer therapy to patients experiencing issues concerning mortality, illness, caregiving arrangements, death of loved ones and relocation, according to the BLS. Geropsychologists also diagnose and assess psychological disorders using cognitive tests, behavioral observation and clinical interviews. They use the information culled from reports and test results to determine whether patients are suffering from conditions, such as depression, anxiety or dementia. Geropsychologists typically work for hospices, assisted living facilities, hospitals and senior citizens centers.
To practice psychology, most states require individuals to earn doctorate degrees and complete internships. After acquiring the requisite years of experience working in the psychology field, candidates can take standardized exams to receive state licensure. Psychologists receive board certification in clinical psychology and other specialty areas such as clinical health psychology and clinical neuropsychology by meeting the requirements set forth by specialty boards within the American Board of Professional Psychology. Specialty boards generally require candidates to have doctorate degrees in psychology, state licenses, accredited internships and specialized experience. Written and oral examinations are also usually required for board certification.
Job potential for clinical psychologists should be quite promising, as job growth is expected to rise by a 20% between 2014 and 2024. This large increase will primarily be due to an aging population and more people potentially turning to psychologists for help.