What is a Clinical Psychologist?

Despite the high number of people now seeing psychologists for their mental health concerns, many people still wonder what clinical psychologist is. Clinical psychologists are licensed and highly-educated professionals who treat patients and their families with mental or emotional disorders. They play a very special role in treating patients with mental illnesses or in working with certain age groups or populations. Learn more clinical psychologists here, including how to become one, what they do and what the career outlook looks like.

Roll of Clinical Psychologist

Clinical psychologists are professionals who provide counseling services to patients with emotional, mental and behavioral disorders. They use their knowledge of psychology to assess patients and initiate appropriate treatment based on their problems and needs. Clinical psychology is one of the largest specialized areas of psychology. They work with a variety of problems, including dealing with anxiety, overcoming depression and managing stress.

Clinical psychologists may work with a variety of people or may specialize in a specific are or a certain population. One clinical psychologist may work with elderly patients while another might work with children or with those dealing with specific health issues like diabetes or schizophrenia. They may work in hospitals, private health care facilities, counseling centers or schools.

How to Become a Clinical Psychologist

Clinical psychologists must have a doctoral degree to practice and treat patients. While some areas of psychology may require only a master’s degree, clinical psychology requires a doctoral degree. An individual pursuing this career may choose from a Ph.D. in psychology or a Doctor of Psychology degree (Psy.D.). The Psy.D. is a clinical degree that requires completion of an examination, whereas a Ph.D. requires passing a comprehensive examination completing a research-based dissertation.

The Psy.D. is generally the degree chosen by aspiring clinical psychologists interested in treating patients. In addition to completing course work and examinations, the clinical psychology student must complete at least a one-year internship. They may also choose to work as a psychological assistant to obtain hands-on training working under the supervision of a licensed doctoral psychologist. The internship must be completed before the individual can obtain licensure.

Is Licensure/Certification Required?

Licensure and/or certification requirements vary by state. Most states require licensure for doctors using the credential of psychologist as part of their title. All the states require that clinical psychologists wishing to work independently be licensed in the state in which they work. To obtain licensure, the candidate must complete the doctorate, the internship and pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology. Clinical psychologists who specialize in specific areas of clinical psychology can obtain certification in those areas through the American Board of Professional Psychology.

Related Resource: 10 Best Deals: Master’s in Clinical Psychology Online

Career Outlook

Clinical psychologists are expected to see job growth of 14 percent between 2016 and 2026 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. About 21,000 new clinical psychologist jobs should be created by 2026. Psychologist annual wages range from $42,460 to $123,920 with the average annual wage at $81,330. Factors that can affect wage potential include education, experience, place of employment and location. The five top-paying states for psychologists are Vermont, New Mexico, Rhode Island, New York and Minnesota.

Four out of every 10 people have seen or are seeing a counselor of psychology, which is an indication of how much these professionals are in demand. Working as a clinical psychologist can be extremely rewarding for any individual interested in a career where they help others.