What Does a Clinical Psychologist Do?

Clinical PsychologistIf you have a caring nature and enjoy helping others overcome their problems, you might have wondered what a clinical psychologist does and if this career is right for you. Clinical psychology is one of several branches of psychology, and it is the one that most people think of when they think of the term “psychologist.” Clinical psychologists are therapists who work directly with clients to help them deal with emotional, mental or interpersonal issues.

Jobs in Clinical Psychology

Clinical psychologists work in private offices, psychiatric hospitals, long-term care facilities and substance abuse centers. They often consult at medical hospitals or various residential facilities. Although most of their work involves direct client interaction and the treatment of mentally ill clients, clinicians also often work in research facilities or participate in experimentation and theory development. Clinical psychologist are highly trained specialists, and they often focus on one of the following areas of study and practice:

  • Psychophysiology – which approaches the treatment of psychiatric disorders from both physiological and sociological points of view
  • Clinical neuropsychology – which explores the relationship between psychiatric conditions and brain disorders, disease and injury
  • Health psychology – which studies and manages the effects of health conditions and healthcare on overall mental health
  • Forensic psychology – which explores issues of criminal behavior such as violence and sexual misconduct

Working as a Clinical Psychologist

Regardless of a clinician’s specific area of specialization, most of these psychologists work toward similar goals. They want to help others. In clinical psychology, the focus is on assisting individuals facing mental or emotional difficulties to overcome these problems and achieve personal goals, according to the American Psychological Association. Clinical psychologists treat those struggling with depression or other overwhelming emotions. They help addicts overcome substance abuse. They work with criminals to help these individuals become upstanding citizens, and they work with victims of crime to help them grieve loss and begin living life once again.

Clinical psychologists use a variety of tests and assessments as they diagnose and treat clients. These tools often reveal important details about a client’s thoughts, feelings and behavior. Some of these assessments evaluate intellect and various aptitudes while others focus on personal preferences and character traits.

During a single career, a clinical psychologist has the opportunity to work with a variety of different populations and on a number of different research projects. Although the career can be demanding, the variety of research options combined with the opportunity to change the course of people’s lives is fulfilling to many who follow this career path.

Related Resource: School Counselor

If you like helping others and enjoy doing scientific research, a career in psychology might be for you. To become one, you will need to complete a bachelor’s degree, a master’s in psychology and a doctoral program in clinical psychology. Now that you have a better understanding of what a clinical psychologist does, do you think this is a career you would like to pursue?