Clinical Psychology Programs: Integrating the Objective and Subjective

Clinical psychology programs

Understanding how the mind affects mood and behavior is the focus of clinical psychologists. Gaining insight into the connections between biology and behavior can help people change their thoughts and actions in ways that improve their wellbeing. Clinical psychologists counsel individuals and groups, as well as conduct research to further our knowledge of these underlying mechanisms. If you would like to gain extensive training in a broad range of  psychology strategies and techniques, start exploring clinical psychology programs today.

Analyzing the Education Process: Earning a Clinical Psychology Degree

Colleges and universities offer clinical psychology degrees at the graduate level. While a doctoral degree is typically required in order to become a clinical psychologist, those who obtain master’s degree in clinical psychology may find work as a psychological assistant. To join a clinical psychology program, you will need to have already completed your undergraduate degree. Although applicants with undergraduate majors in psychology and sociology may be preferred, programs will usually consider applicants with a wide variety of undergraduate majors who demonstrate familiarity with the field, either through work, volunteer experience or college-level psychology coursework. Some programs may also ask that you submit GRE scores, as well as letters of recommendation.

There are two types of doctoral degrees available for clinical psychology: the PhD, which will require a dissertation based on original research or a PsyD, which is a clinical degree and is based on practical experience. Completing the program usually takes between five and seven years. While classes are traditionally held in the late afternoon or evening, a growing number of schools offer a combination of online and weekend courses. Many programs will also incorporate a practicum so that students can receive hands-on experience. The curriculum may cover topics such as:

  • Cognitive psychology
  • Statistical research
  • Developmental psychology
  • Psychoanalytic psychotherapy
  • Behavior therapy
  • Psychopathology
  • Ethical issues in psychology
  • Assessment and intervention

In order to practice as a clinical psychologist, you must gain state licensure. The Association of State and Provincial Licensing Board lists specifc requirements on a state-by-state basis. In general, most states require clinical psychologists to participate in an internship program after earning their doctoral degree, acquire one to two years of professional experience, and pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology. You may also be asked to enroll in continuing education courses to keep your license current. Although not usually required, additional certification through the American Board of Professional Psychology in one of the 13 areas of psychology can demonstrate expertise in a specific specialty, such as couples and family therapy or psychoanalysis.

Employment Opportunities for Clinical Psychologists

Clinical psychologists are typically trained to work with individuals with a broad range of diagnoses. However, they usually specialize in a specific area of treatment, such as substance abuse issues or compulsive disorders. For the first meeting with the client, a clinical psychologist will conduct an assessment inquiring about the main reasons that have brought the client to treatment, as well as more general questions about the client’s mental and emotional health. In subsequent meetings, the clinical psychologist will implement a variety of techniques to help the client work through his or her difficulties. For example, they may suggest behavior modification to treat compulsive thoughts or actions or provide exposure therapy to combat fears.

Clinical psychologists generally work in office environments during normal business hours. Depending on their specialized area of expertise, they might need to travel within a limited geographic region to meet with clients at schools or community centers. They might also periodically attend conferences for professional development or to present their research. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for clinical psychologists is expected to grow faster than average, at a rate of 22%. This growth will result from a higher demand for mental health services from people of all ages and walks of life. Doctoral degree holders should enjoy favorable employment prospects, due to the selectivity of programs at this level. In 2012, the median annual wage for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists was $67,650. The bottom 10% earned $38,450, while the top 10% earned more than $109,340.

The development of more effective treatment strategies that reflect our growing understanding of the interaction between brain and behavior is generally allowing clinical psychologists to provide better outcomes for patients. In turn, this spurs individuals to seek the services of clinical psychologists in order to cope with a broader variety of life issues. Become a professional who improves people’s lives by exploring the clinical psychology programs featured below.