Becoming a Clinical Psychologist to start a Career
Are you thinking of becoming a clinical psychologist? Since the late 19th century, clinical psychology has been growing and evolving as a career and has become one of the most important careers within the helping field of psychology. When we think of clinical psychologists, we often think of classic one-on-one therapy. This is a large part of the job of a clinical psychologist, but a clinical psychologist’s job description requires more than just talk therapy with clients.
Clinical psychologist srae trained in psychological testing, assessment and diagnosis of mental disorder. Clinical psychologists must also work with insurance companies, court systems and other health providers to provide the best care to their clients. Although clinical psychologists are most often found in mental health clinics and private practice, you can also find clinical psychologists directing mental health programs, teaching, and even doing research.
Skills and Personal Characteristics of a Clinical Psychologist
Being a clinical psychologist is not for everyone. There are distinctive personality traits and skills that make clinical psychologists most effective in their careers.
• Communication Skills: Perhaps the most important quality of a clinical psychologist is the ability to communicate clearly and concisely with a wide variety of people in a wide variety of positions. Clinical psychologists make their living talking with their clients to assess, understand, and help with their problems. They must also be able to speak with other care givers, insurance companies and many other community service workers.
• Strong Science Skills: Although psychology is usually considered a “soft science,” clinical psychologists are required to learn, understand and retain a great deal of scientific knowledge about psychological theory. If the sciences are not your favorite subjects, clinical psychology may not be the best choice for your career.
• Analytic Skills: Clinical psychologists must exhibit strong analytic skills when assessing their clients based on psychological theory. Their skills extend to identifying and diagnosing mental disorders and creating the most appropriate treatment plans for their clients.
• Personal Traits: Along with the skills above, which can be trainable, a clinical psychologist must also possess such traits as empathy, sensitivity, patience, and compassion. Those who tend to want to become clinical psychologists generally possess a strong desire to help people feel better and alleviate suffering. Clinical psychologists are also non-judgmental towards their clients, no matter what issues or background the client may have.
How to Become a Clinical Psychologist Being a clinical psychologist requires a serious commitment, including a minimum of eight years of college and graduate school. After four years of undergraduate school, those who wish to be clinical psychologists may enter a master’s program (2 years), or go directly to a doctoral-level program. The most common doctoral degrees required for becoming a clinical psychologist are a PhD in Psychology, or a PsyD (Doctor of Psychology).