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A Closer Look at Clinical Psychology

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Kaylee Barth


September 7, 2016


A Closer Look at Clinical Psychology

The broad field of psychology can be illustrated as a tree with many different branches, each representing a particular specialty to the field. Some of these specialties include forensic, counseling, industrial, behavioral, developmental, and clinical. Clinical psychology is primarily concerned with the assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental disorders (Feldman 6). Those interested in working in this type of field must be emotionally stable and incredibly personable largely due to the fact that prospective patients could be suffering from very severe mental illnesses. Despite the fact that clinical psychology is an extensive and time-consuming program, the majority of those currently working in the field feel that the benefits and earning potential to the career are well worth the work.

Clinical psychologists usually work in medical settings, private practice, or in academic positions at universities and colleges (Feldman 6). This type of psychology cannot prescribe medications, but instead works to create treatment plans and therapeutic programs by dealing directly alongside of patients. The career consists of roles such as assessing and diagnosing psychological disorders, forming treatment plans, teaching and leading research, contributing testimony in legal situations, and drug and alcohol treatment (Brems). Clinical psychologists are qualified to diagnose and treat problems that vary from the calamities of everyday life, such as the heartache of a fallen relationship, to more serious conditions, such as suffering from suffocating, persistent depression (Feldman 7). This type of psychologist deals with clients face-to-face, developing a relationship with them overtime in an effort to relate to clients on a personal level. The clinical field of psychology is composed of three key theoretical viewpoints. The Psychodynamic perspective is credited to Sigmund Freud. Freud was an Australian neurologist who believed that the unconscious mind still plays a crucial role in behavior, so this approach focuses on that belief. The Cognitive Behavioral view concentrates on how a client’s feelings, behaviors, and thoughts interrelate. Finally, the Humanistic standpoint is credited to two psychologists, Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers. This perspective focuses on self-actualization and bringing people to realize their full potential (Brems).

Though some people can find work with only a master’s degree, this scenario is increasingly rare. Most hiring positions require at least a doctoral degree in clinical psychology (Brems). The majority of graduate programs highly encourage students to get a bachelor’s degree in psychology before pursuing a graduate study in clinical psychology (Mayne). The traditional Ph.D. in Psychology (or Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology) stresses the importance of research and science. The Psy.D. degree (Doctor of Psychology) is principally fixated on experimental and practitioner work. Many students find themselves interested in pursuing the Psy.D. because they generally can earn a Psy.D. in about a year less than it would take them to earn a Ph.D. Alternatively, Ph.D. programs tend to provide better subsidy for graduate students (Mayne). The educational requirements to work in clinical psychology are fairly demanding, and most clinical psychologists attend graduate school for anywhere between four and six years after receiving a bachelor's degree (Mayne). The median annual salary for a clinical psychologist is about $70,000; however, that number fluctuates depending on qualifications, education, and career setting (Brems).

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