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Clinical Psychology Overview

The field of psychology that is concerned with diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders is called clinical psychology. Clinical psychology represents integration of the science of psychology and treatment of a wide range of psychological problems.

This field of psychology was founded at the beginning of 20th century by Lightner Witmer, an American psychologist and a previous student of Wilhelm Wundt. Witmer defined clinical psychology as “the study of individuals, by observation or experimentation, with the intention of promoting change”.

Clinical Psychology Education

In the United States, in order to become a clinical psychologist a person should have a PhD in psychology and be trained in clinical settings. After earning bachelor’s degree, clinical psychologists must spend additional four to six years in graduate school to meet rigorous educational requirements to work in clinical psychology.

For independent practice in clinical psychology, one must graduate with a PhD or PsyD which are two types of degrees available in clinical psychology. PhD program is focused on extensive research while studies for a PsyD are mainly centered on clinical practice.

However, regardless of the program students opt for, it is necessary that the school is accredited by American Psychological Association. Also, clinical psychologists have to receive supervised training after graduating. Licensing requirements for practice vary from state to state.

Students in the U.K. have to complete clinical psychology programs sponsored by the National Health Service in order to earn a doctorate. These programs are equally oriented on both research and practice. For admission in one of these doctoral training programs, it is required that students have undergraduate degree in psychology certified by the British Psychological Society.

Clinical Psychology Job Description

A clinical psychologist can work in clinics, medical schools, universities, rehab centers or private practice facilities. Clinical psychologists that work directly with patients must evaluate and diagnose psychological problem in a person and prescribe a course of treatment.

Clinical psychologists have different job responsibilities such as:

  • To asses and diagnose mental or emotional disorders
  • To treat mental or emotional disorders
  • To carry out research
  • To teach
  • To provide treatment for drug and alcohol addiction
  • To design and administer program for prevention and treatment of social problems

Treatment Approaches in Clinical Psychology

Psychodynamic Approach

This approach is based upon the theory that the unconscious mind influences people’s behavior. One of the techniques used in psychodynamic approach is free association that helps a psychologist to reveal a patient’s unconscious motivations.

Cognitive Behavioral Approach

Cognitive behavioral perspective helps psychologists to gain insight into relation between patient’s emotions, behavior and thoughts. This approach focus on changing thought patterns and behaviors that lead to a psychological problem.

Humanistic Approach

This perspective originates form the work of humanist thinkers Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers. It is basically holistic approach that focuses on the positive image of human nature and potential.

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