What Is Clinical Psychology? With Job Details

Clinical psychology is an integration of social science, theory, and clinical knowledge for the purpose of understanding, preventing, and relieving psychologically based distress or dysfunction and to promote subjective well-being and personal development.[1][2] Central to its practice are psychological assessment, clinical formulation, and psychotherapy, although clinical psychologists also engage in research, teaching, consultation, forensic testimony, and program development and administration.[3] In many countries, clinical psychology is a regulated mental health profession.

What is Clinical Psychology? | Is Clinical Psychology a Good Career?

What does a clinical psychologist do?

Clinical psychologists perform a variety of job duties each day to provide accurate diagnoses, treatment options and clinical resources for their patients. These are some examples of typical job duties for clinical psychologists:

What is clinical psychology?

Clinical psychology refers to a specialty area of psychology that combines science and psychological theories to diagnose, treat and study mental health conditions. This includes mental health conditions like anxiety and depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), schizophrenia, phobias, eating disorders, substance abuse or learning disabilities.

Where does a clinical psychologist work?

Clinical psychologists can work for mental health clinics, rehabilitation facilities, correctional facilities, hospitals, private practices, government agencies, research institutes or colleges and universities. Sometimes, clinical psychologists may also work as full-time or contractual employees for large corporations that want to provide mental health and counseling services to its employees.

Despite the potential differences in their work environments, clinical psychologists usually conduct their work activities in an office where they research potential diagnoses for patients, meet with patients to discuss diagnostic information and communicate with other mental health professionals to determine treatment plans for their patients.

What are the job requirements for a clinical psychologist?

Review these steps to determine what job requirements you need to fulfill in order to become a clinical psychologist:

1. Earn a bachelors degree

The first step to becoming a clinical psychologist is to attend a four-year bachelors degree program at a college or university. If you know you want to work as a clinical psychologist or a related area there are a few different majors that can enhance your learning. These include psychology, sociology, biology or social work.

2. Complete a psychology internship

As you complete your bachelors degree program in a preferable area, be sure to use your time to participate in one or more psychology-based internships. This can help you gain valuable professional experience that you can include on your resume. Internships also highlight your dedication to psychology when pursuing a masters degree program. To find a psychology internship, speak with your professors about potential networking opportunities. You can also complete an online search and contact mental health organizations in your area about potential internship positions.

3. Attend a masters degree program

After the completion of a bachelors degree program, you need to apply for and attend a two-year masters degree program in psychology. During this part of your education, you learn about psychology and its specialties more in-depth. Depending on the program, you may also receive the opportunity to complete a research project on the topic of your choice.

4. Complete a doctoral degree program

A doctoral degree program for clinical psychology takes four to five years to complete. During this time, you typically complete in-class study, independent research and clinical experience with a licensed clinical psychologist.

5. Review state requirements

After you earn your doctoral degree, you can start thinking about state licensure. Typically, you can find information about your states requirements for licensure on its department of health website. Depending on your state licensure requirements, you may need to obtain references, complete a clinical internship and provide transcripts or other documentation to prove your eligibility.

6. Take the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP)

The Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) is a two-part exam offered by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB). The first part is knowledge based while the second part is skill based. To complete the exam, you need to register with the ASPPB, review the resources provided and locate a time and testing center that works best.

7. Earn clinical hours

Prospective clinical psychologists typically need to complete around 3,000 hours of clinical experience (four to five months), in order to qualify to apply for state licensure.

8. Apply for state licensure

Once youve passed the EPPP and earned the correct number of clinical hours, you can apply for state licensure with your states department of health. You usually need to renew your license each year to maintain your credentials.


What exactly does a clinical psychologist do?

The aim of clinical psychology is to understand, predict, and treat or alleviate disorders, disabilities, or any kind of maladjustment.

What is the difference between psychologist and a clinical psychologist?

5 Theories of Clinical Psychology
  • Psychodynamic.
  • Behavioral.
  • Cognitive.
  • Biological.
  • Humanistic.

What is an example of clinical psychology?

Psychologists who provide clinical or counseling services assess and treat mental, emotional and behavioral disorders. They use the science of psychology to treat complex human problems and promote change. They also promote resilience and help people discover their strengths.

What is the field of clinical psychology?

A typical distinction is that general psychologists focus on healthier people, while clinical psychologists focus on people with more serious mental health issues. Other experts have suggested doing away with the distinction between “clinical” and “general” by blending the two together.

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