A clinical psychologist diagnoses and treats clients suffering from emotional, social or mental issues by helping them cope with life changes, crises and even some physical conditions. A Ph.D. or Psy.D. is often the basic requirement for a career in clinical psychology, but those with a master’s in clinical psychology can obtain work under the supervision of a doctorate-level psychologist.
An advanced degree in clinical psychology gives graduates the flexibility to work in both clinical and counseling settings as well as teaching positions and private practice. Psy.D. programs are geared toward clinical work, while Ph.D. programs tend to emphasize research. Clinical psychology doctoral programs generally involve five to seven years of graduate study, a dissertation and a one-year internship. Most states require licensing or certification for clinical psychology jobs, but these requirements vary by state.
Clinical psychology is the most popular subfield in psychology. In 2006, psychologists held approximately 166,000 jobs, and 152,000 of these were in clinical, counseling or educational psychology.
Clinical psychologists help individuals suffering from mental illness or temporary psychological distress. Advanced degrees and training prepare clinical psychologists to assist clients with some of the following issues:
Clinical psychologists spend most of their time assessing, diagnosing and implementing the proper course of treatment for clients. This process is carried out by observing behavior, utilizing psychological tests and interviewing clients. They also develop treatment plans that draw on a number of psychological solutions such as behavior modification therapy, group therapy and individual psychotherapy.
The U.S. Department of Labor reported a national mean salary of $68,150 for all clinical psychologist occupations in 2007. A recent study by the American Psychological Association’s (APA) research office found that the highest paid clinical psychologists worked in government jobs (earning $81,840) and private practice (earning $74,323). The APA notes that clinical psychologists can potentially earn well over $125,000 depending on their career path and experience.
The U.S. Department of Labor predicts “faster than average” growth in all areas of psychology over the next few years due to the increased demand for mental health services in educational institutions, substance abuse centers, hospitals and other facilities.