What is Involved in the Field of Clinical Psychology?

Clinical psychology is a specialty field within the greater field of psychology focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. Some of the most typical disorders that might be treated by a clinical psychologist include learning disabilities, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.

What are the Responsibilities of a Clinical Psychologist?

Students with an interest in a career in clinical psychology will generally have the option of pursuing general clinical psychology or choosing a focus area in one particular type of patient or disorder. A clinical psychologist has three general responsibilities, regardless of their area of employment. These are:

  1. Assessing the patient
  2. Diagnosing a disorder
  3. Recommending a possible treatment

In order to properly assess a patient, the clinical psychologist will interview the client as well as any family members who might have insight into their diagnosis. During interviews, a clinical psychologist will learn about the difficulties and issues facing the client. Another way for clinical psychologists to gather information about a patient is by observing them in their environment. Once the assessment is complete the clinical psychologist will evaluate all of the data and make a diagnosis. This process may take a few days to complete and include the psychologist studying information, such as unusual thoughts and behaviors to create the best fitting diagnosis for the client. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is typically used to help choose a diagnosis depending upon the client’s specific symptoms.

Once a proper diagnosis is in place the next step is to recommend a course of treatment. In some cases, the clinical psychologist will treat the client. In more serious or atypical cases, the clinical psychologist may enlist the help of other mental health professionals with more experience in this particular disorder.

Where do Clinical Psychologists Work?

Depending on the area of specialization, a clinical psychologist will typically work in private practice, private or government run organizations, universities or colleges, research settings, schools, police departments, military branches as well as a number of others.

What Kind of Training Do I Need to be a Clinical Psychologist?

Becoming a clinical psychologist requires a great deal of specialized training and education. The first step on the educational path is to earn a bachelor’s in psychology, clinical psychology or a related field. Upon graduation from an undergraduate program, the next step is to earn a master’s degree and doctoral degree in clinical psychology.

How Much Does a Clinical Psychologist Earn?

While the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) gathers salary information for a limited number of specialty areas of psychology, the salaries of clinical psychologists will vary greatly depending upon a number of factors including location, experience, popularity, etc. The BLS states that the median annual salary of clinical psychologists was $68,900 in May of 2014. Clinical Psychologists with a top level degree and years of experience can expect to earn significantly more.


Careers In Psychology.org: Becoming a Clinical Psychology