Career Development

What Does a Clinical Psychologist Do?

Find out what a clinical psychologist does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a clinical psychologist.

Clinical psychologists are trained professionals who diagnose and treat mental health issues. They may work with individuals, couples, families, or groups to help them manage and overcome a wide range of psychological problems.

Clinical psychologists may also provide counseling services to individuals who are not experiencing any obvious mental health issues but who want to improve their general well-being by dealing with issues such as stress, anxiety, or negative thinking patterns.

Clinical Psychologist Job Duties

Clinical psychologists have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Performing assessments to determine if clients are qualified for treatment or need further diagnostic testing
  • Providing therapy to patients using a variety of modalities such as behavioral therapy, cognitive therapy, family therapy, hypnosis, play therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and others
  • Conducting psychological research to investigate topics such as human behavior and its causes, in order to develop new treatments
  • Conducting psychological assessments such as personality tests, intelligence tests, speech patterns, memory functions, motor skills, etc.
  • Counseling individuals and families regarding various issues such as stress management, grief counseling, relationship problems, substance abuse, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, etc.
  • Providing consultation services to schools, businesses, government agencies, and other organizations on topics such as employee productivity, conflict resolution, bullying prevention, substance abuse prevention, etc.
  • Teaching psychology courses at universities or colleges or providing clinical training to students in doctoral programs
  • Preparing reports detailing findings from assessment activities or research projects for use by clients and other interested parties
  • Determining treatment goals with patients based on assessment findings, including developing treatment plans and interventions

Clinical Psychologist Salary & Outlook

Clinical psychologists’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, experience, and the type of setting in which they work. Those who have a doctoral degree and many years of experience may earn six-figure salaries. However, the majority of clinical psychologists earn between $60,000 and $80,000 per year.

  • Median Annual Salary: $112,550 ($54.11/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $141,000 ($67.79/hour)

The employment of clinical psychologists is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade.

Demand for clinical psychologists is expected to increase as more healthcare providers recognize the importance of providing psychological services to their patients. Clinical psychologists will be needed to provide psychotherapy and other mental health services to an aging population, because many older people experience psychological problems, such as depression and anxiety.

Related: In-Depth Clinical Psychologist Salary Guide

Clinical Psychologist Job Requirements

A clinical psychologist typically needs to have the following:

Education: Clinical psychologists need a minimum of a master’s degree in psychology to practice. Many clinical psychologists obtain a Ph.D. in psychology for greater employment opportunities and increased earning potential. The master’s degree in psychology takes about two years to complete and includes coursework, research and practicum.

The coursework for a master’s program in psychology includes a range of topics, including psychology, research methods, statistics, biology, counseling, and social and behavioral science. The practicum is a supervised experience that gives students hands-on experience in a clinical setting.

Training & Experience: Clinical psychologists receive most of their training through their education and experience working with patients. They may work as research assistants, volunteers or interns to gain experience interacting with patients. They may also work as a clinical or counseling assistant to learn how to interact with patients and how to manage patient files and paperwork.

Certifications & Licenses: Most states require clinical psychologists to apply for a license to practice there legally. Requirements vary by state but typically include a doctorate in psychology, a one-year internship and at least a year of work experience. Clinical psychologists must then pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) to earn their license.

Clinical Psychologist Skills

Clinical psychologists need the following skills in order to be successful:

Interpersonal communication skills: Clinical psychologists often work with patients in one-on-one sessions, so interpersonal communication skills are essential for this profession. These professionals also often collaborate with other medical professionals to provide the best treatment for their patients. This requires excellent communication skills, both written and verbal.

Processing speed: Clinical psychologists often need to make quick decisions about treatment plans, diagnosis and other aspects of their work. Having strong processing speed can help them make the best decisions for their patients.

Delegation skills: Clinical psychologists often work with other professionals, such as psychiatrists, social workers and therapists. They may delegate tasks to these professionals, such as conducting therapy sessions with patients. Delegation skills can help clinical psychologists manage their time and responsibilities.

Attention to detail: Attention to detail is a crucial skill for clinical psychologists, as they often work with sensitive information about their patients. This means that they need to be able to record and store information accurately and securely. Attention to detail can also help them notice any changes in their patients’ behavior that may indicate a need for treatment adjustments.

Information processing skills: Clinical psychologists need to process information quickly and accurately to make informed decisions. They need to be able to read and interpret patient files, evaluate patient reactions and body language and make accurate diagnoses. They also need to be able to process information quickly to provide patients with the best treatment options as soon as possible.

Clinical Psychologist Work Environment

Clinical psychologists typically work in private practices, hospitals, clinics, or other healthcare settings. They may also work in academic settings, such as colleges and universities, where they may conduct research, teach, and provide psychological services to students. Clinical psychologists typically work a 40-hour week, although they may work longer hours to accommodate their patients’ schedules. They may also travel to meet with patients or to attend conferences. The work of a clinical psychologist can be stressful, as they often deal with patients who are experiencing emotional or mental distress.

Clinical Psychologist Trends

Here are three trends influencing how clinical psychologists work. Clinical psychologists will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

Shift From Group Therapy to Online Therapy

The trend of online therapy is growing rapidly as more and more people become comfortable with the idea of communicating with their therapist through a computer screen. This shift away from group therapy to online therapy is due to a number of factors, such as the increasing popularity of smartphones and the growing number of people who live in remote areas.

Clinical psychologists who are able to offer their services online will be in high demand as more and more people turn to the internet for help. They will need to be skilled in online communication, as well as in the use of technology to provide therapy services.

Long-Distance Mental Health

The trend of long-distance mental health is growing as technology continues to advance. This is because it allows for more people to have access to mental health services regardless of their location.

Clinical psychologists can utilize this trend by providing services through telepsychology. This involves providing therapy services through video conferencing or other online platforms. This can be a great way to reach more people who need help, and it can also be more cost-effective for both the psychologist and the client.

The Growing Demand for Telepsychiatry

The demand for telepsychiatry is growing as mental health services become more and more popular.

Clinical psychologists can capitalize on this trend by becoming certified in telepsychiatry. This will allow them to provide services to patients who may not have access to traditional mental health services. Additionally, clinical psychologists can use telepsychiatry to reach a wider audience, which can be beneficial for those who are looking to expand their practice.

Greater Acceptance of Mental Health Problems

The trend of greater acceptance of mental health problems is having a profound impact on the field of clinical psychology. As people become more comfortable discussing mental health issues, they are also more likely to seek help from clinical psychologists.

Clinical psychologists can capitalize on this trend by becoming more involved in the community and by developing outreach programs that are designed to help people who are struggling with mental health problems.

Expansion of Medical Psychology

The field of medical psychology is expanding rapidly as more and more psychologists are choosing to specialize in this area. This is due to the increasing demand for mental health services, which is being driven by the growing awareness of mental health issues among the general population.

Clinical psychologists who specialize in medical psychology can expect to see a lot of growth in their careers in the coming years. They will be in high demand by hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare organizations.

Better Ways to Diagnose and Treat Mental Health Issues

Mental health issues are becoming increasingly common, which is leading to a need for better ways to diagnose and treat them.

Clinical psychologists are in a unique position to take advantage of this trend, as they are already experts in diagnosing and treating mental health issues. They can use this knowledge to develop new methods of treatment that are more effective and easier for patients to use.

How to Become a Clinical Psychologist

A clinical psychologist career path offers a chance to help people in need and make a real difference in their lives. This is a highly rewarding career, but it also requires a lot of hard work. As a clinical psychologist, you will need to complete a doctoral degree in psychology, as well as a one-year internship and two years of postdoctoral training.

You will also need to pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP), which is administered by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB). Once you have completed all of these requirements, you will be able to practice as a clinical psychologist in the United States.

Related: How to Write a Clinical Psychologist Resume

Advancement Prospects

After completing an accredited doctoral program in clinical psychology and completing a one-year internship, psychologists can apply for state licensure to practice independently. Some psychologists choose to work in independent practice, while others work in hospitals, clinics, schools, or other settings. Many psychologists also work in academic settings, conducting research, teaching, and publishing their findings.

Clinical psychologists often advance in their careers by taking on more responsibility, such as supervising other psychologists or managing a clinical psychology program. Some psychologists also move into administrative positions, such as hospital administrator or head of a mental health clinic. With experience, some psychologists may open their own private practices.

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