Clinical Psychology Careers

What does a Clinical Psychologist do?

A Clinical Psychologist works in the scientific field of medicine, specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health illnesses. Clinical Psychology is the largest specialty in the field of Psychology. A Clinical Psychologist works with patients on mental health issues, both emotional and behavioral. A strong sense of compassion for helping others overcome obstacles that plague their mental well-being leads many to a career in Clinical Psychology.

 

What Is a Clinical Psychologist Responsible For?

Clinical Psychologists support patients in mental health and personal development. They work with patients to develop their awareness of psychological problems and create treatment plans to help them achieve their mental health goals. A Clinical Psychologist meets with a patient and sometimes their spouse and other family members to discuss problems and how they affect the patient and family. They review the patient’s medical history and background, conduct personal interviews, and use their findings to develop a plan for treatment. Diagnostic testing, hypnotherapy, psychotherapy, and prescription medication are some of the treatment techniques used by Clinical Psychologists.

A Clinical Psychologist tracks their patient’s progress through detailed notes taken during each therapy session. They routinely evaluate the effectiveness of the treatments and make modifications to the treatment plan as needed.

In addition to counseling, Clinical Psychologists may teach classes, conduct research, and publish their findings in industry publications.

A successful and effective therapist will learn and utilize the following skillsets:

  •        Excellent communication, including clear speech and good listening technique
  •        Empathy and the desire to help others
  •        Calm demeanor in stressful and emotional situations; able to work with people in distress
  •        Critical thinking, problem-solving, and effective decision-making skills
  •        Patience
  •        Integrity and high ethics
  •        Active learning and research skills
  •        Social perceptiveness
  •        Effective writing
  •        Negotiation and coordination to bring people together

Where Does a Clinical Psychologist Work?

Clinical Psychologist Jobs typically in the arena of healthcare, providing counseling services in hospitals, private practices, psychotherapy centers, nursing centers, and rehabilitation facilities. Some Clinical Psychologists work in academic settings as professors and researchers. They may also work in fields of specialty, the military, government agencies, private business associations, and consultancies.

 

What Career Options Are Available to a Clinical Psychologist?

There are a variety of career opportunities for Clinical Psychologists. Following are a few options:

Substance Abuse Counselor 

One of the fastest growing careers in the U.S., a Substance Abuse Counselor works closely with patients to overcome addiction problems. Patients addicted to illegal drugs, as well as prescription medications, require strong counselors to overcome their addiction, manage withdrawal symptoms, and achieve a successful recovery. Part of a successful recovery is the patient’s ability to manage triggers that can cause a relapse. The counselor analyzes the behavior and circumstances that led to the addiction and develops a plan for the patient to manage those triggers.  State certification varies, but normally includes licensure. 

Human Resources Position

A comprehensive Human Resources Department is an integral part of successful organizations. Evaluating the behavior and past performance of prospective employees ensures the right people are hired for the right positions in a company. Ongoing evaluation of skills, performance, and attitudes preserves the desired corporate climate. Establishing and implementing policies and procedures secures fair internal practices for the company.  

Family / Marriage Counselors 

This career option can lead a therapist to the hospital setting, working with Psychiatrists and Social Workers, or opening private practices. The Clinical Psychologist may work with couples who are experiencing marital conflict or treat a family dealing with a child with behavioral problems.

Forensic Psychologist

A Forensic Psychologist works with law enforcement as an expert witness and is assigned to evaluate defendants for competency to stand trial, or to assess if the defendant is sane or mentally ill. As a credible witness, the psychologist must evaluate, provide treatment recommendations, determine credibility of other witnesses, and possibly recommend terms of sentence. 

Child Psychologists 

Children have very specialized mental health needs. A Child Psychologist works with children to sort out home problems, including neglect and abuse, as well as diagnoses and treats mental health problems. They also teach habits and skills that can be used into adulthood to help manage mental health issues.  

Learning Disabilities Specialist

Elementary schools and High schools require mental health specialists who can diagnose and treat children with learning disabilities. A Learning Disabilities Specialist works closely with students, educators, and parents to develop and implement a plan to treat Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Autism, and other learning impairments so the student can learn to overcome and excel in the educational environment. 

 

What Degree Is Required to Become a Clinical Psychologist? What Do They Study?

A student of Clinical Psychology begins with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. The bachelor’s degree teaches the student fundamental principles and disciplines of Psychology, with heavy training on theory and practice.

Once the Psychologist completes their bachelor’s degree, it is time to select a field of specialty and pursue a master’s degree. In some cases, they may invest further in their education by obtaining a doctorate degree in Psychology.

State laws require a Clinical Psychologist to be licensed in the state they are practicing. Applicants must prove they have worked under a licensed professional for two years and they need to pass the state board exam.  Some states require the psychologist to present a valid case study for review.

 

How Much Money Does a Clinical Psychologist Earn?

Salaries for Clinical Psychologists vary widely based on many different factors. Recent U.S. Bureau of Statistics (BLS) indicate the median income for Clinical Psychologists is $76,000. Actual salaries vary based on location, specialization, and experience.

The U.S. BLS reports that the top 10 percent of earners made more than $113,000 per year. Experience is an immense component of salary determination, with a noticeable jump in salary in the fifth to sixth year. Salaries typically increase measurably with every consecutive year of work.

Field of specialty can greatly affect earnings, too. The average salary for Marriage and Family Psychologists is around $54,000 and for Psychology Teachers is approximately $84,000. Salaries for Corporate Psychologists varies significantly, ranging from $44,000-$85,000. A Forensic Psychologists averages $72,000 per year.  

Entry-level Clinical Psychologists can expect to start at $65,000 per year, while mid-level earners are averaging $80,000 per year. Those with 10-20 years of experience can see salaries of $89,000, and late career Psychologists are averaging $98,000 in annual salaries.