Is a Clinical Psychology Career For You?
Becoming a clinical psychologist takes time, effort and dedication. If you’re interested in this career path, it’s important to understand exactly what it takes to become a clinical psychologist, so that you can plan accordingly. This job is not for the faint of heart. You must be willing to go above and beyond in order to succeed as a clinical psychologist. Read on to learn more about what it takes to become a clinical psychologist, as well as information about educational requirements, licensure and certification.
What is a clinical psychologist?
A clinical psychologist is a health care provider who has specialized training in psychology and can provide patients with both mental and emotional support. They can help individuals understand why certain psychological issues have arisen, as well as provide recommendations for how to overcome or manage these issues.
It is important to note that clinical psychologists are not the same as psychiatrists. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who have specialized training in the application of mental health treatments, such as medications or therapy. Clinical psychologists, on the other hand, deal solely with the mental and emotional aspects of a person’s well-being.
What Does a Clinical Psychologists Do?
Clinical psychologists are trained to help patients identify and overcome mental and emotional issues that are negatively impacting their daily lives. These issues can include anxiety, depression, trauma, grief and many more.
Clinical psychologists typically utilize talk therapy to assist patients in identifying issues, challenging negative thoughts and behaviors, and instilling self-esteem and confidence. While clinical psychologists can provide therapy to individuals, they can also be employed in various other settings. They work in hospitals, schools and other medical environments, helping patients and clients cope with issues.
What Are the Steps to Become a Clinical Psychologist?
To become a clinical psychologist, you will need to earn a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) degree from a school accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA).
In order to be accepted into a doctorate program, you will need to have earned a bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA requirement and have solid GRE or PhD admission test scores.
Once admitted, you will be required to complete a minimum number of supervised hours in a clinical setting, usually at least 2,000 hours. You will be required to complete coursework on topics such as abnormal psychology, research methods, clinical interventions, and assessment. After completing your PhD or PsyD, you will be required to earn licensure by providing documentation of at least 1,000 supervised clinical hours, passing a state licensing exam, and submitting a license application.
Where Do Clinical Psychologists Work?
Clinical psychologists have a wide range of career options and can work in a variety of settings. They can work in hospitals, independent clinics or mental health practices and schools. Some clinical psychologists choose to work as academics and teach students at colleges or universities.
Clinical psychologists can also work in private practice, alone or with a partner. Since clinical psychologists often work with individuals who have experienced trauma, they may also choose to work in the field of victim services, helping victims of various crimes recover from their experiences.
What do clinical psychologists do on a daily basis?
Clinical psychologists have a wide range of responsibilities on a daily basis. They use their knowledge and understanding of mental health to assess, diagnose, and treat individuals with various mental health concerns.
This often involves conducting psychological evaluations, providing individual or group therapy sessions, creating treatment plans, providing case management services, consulting with families and other professionals, developing psychometric tests to measure behavior or abilities, and conducting research to further advance the field.
Clinical psychologists also need to have excellent interpersonal skills in order to build strong working relationships with clients. They often work collaboratively with other medical professionals such as psychiatrists and social workers in order to provide comprehensive care for their patients.
Clinical psychologists must also stay up-to-date on new developments in the field by attending workshops and conferences. Ultimately, clinical psychologists are responsible for ensuring that their clients’ emotional needs are met through evidence-based treatments that promote healing and improved quality of life.
Duties of a Clinical Psychologist
- Interact with clients to assist them in gaining insight, defining goals, and planning action to achieve effective personal, social, educational, or vocational development and adjustment.
- Conduct assessments of patients’ risk for harm to self or others.
- Counsel individuals, groups, or families to help them understand problems, deal with crisis situations, define goals, and develop realistic action plans.
- Write reports on clients and maintain required paperwork.
- Collect information about individuals or clients, using interviews, case histories, observational techniques, and other assessment methods.
Educational requirements to become a clinical psychologist
There are many different educational paths you can take. Many schools offer joint psychology degree programs, which allow you to earn a Bachelors and Masters in 5 years. Other options include earning a BA in Psychology and MA in Clinical Psychology or a BA in Psychology and a PhD in Clinical Psychology.
It’s important to note that in some states, you can become a clinical psychologist after earning a Masters degree, while others require a PhD. Regardless of your educational path, you’ll need to complete many supervised hours of practicums (internships), as well as a full-length practicums. After completing all educational requirements, you’ll need to pass a licensure exam to become fully licensed as a clinical psychologist.
Licensure and certification to become a clinical psychologist
In order to become a licensed clinical psychologist, individuals must first earn a doctoral degree in clinical psychology. This typically takes about 6 years, but can vary from school to school. After earning your degree, you’ll need to complete several supervised hours of practicums to gain field experience.
You’ll also need to pass a licensure exam. In order to take this exam, you must first become a member of a state psychological association. Once you’re a member, you can become certified as a clinical psychologist by maintaining your membership and continuing to provide quality services to your clients.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Clinical Psychologist?
First, you will need to earn a Ph.D. or PsyD degree, which usually takes between 4 and 8 years; some universities offer a combined master’s and doctoral program, which can shorten the time to 3–4 years.
During your education, you’ll need to attend classes, conduct research, and take courses in the field of psychology, such as abnormal psychology, developmental psychology, and clinical psychology. Most schools require you to have a master’s degree before you can apply to a Ph.D. program.
Once you’re accepted, you’ll need to complete a doctoral dissertation, which takes between 1 and 2 years. In most cases, you must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher to stay in the program.
How Much Do Clinical Psychologists Make
The average salary for Clinical and Counseling Psychologists is $99,640. The three states that pay Clinical and Counseling Psychologists the most are New Jersey ($143,150), Delaware ($129,450) and Oregon ($126,230).
When adjusted for cost-of-living, the states that pay Clinical and Counseling Psychologists the highest average annual salary are Delaware ($132,267), New Jersey ($128,778) and Oregon ($123,007).
See our complete guide to state-by-state and city-by-city clinical psychologist salaries.
Salary Range by Education and Experience
|10%||Less than a Year||5,810||Under $47,010|
|15%||2 – 4 years||8,715||$47,010 – $62,040|
|25%||5 – 9 years||14,525||$62,040 – $82,510|
|25%||10 – 14 years||14,525||$82,510 – $126,590|
|15%||15 – 20 years||8,715||$126,590 – $167,460|
|10%||20+ years||5,810||Above $167,460|