Clinical psychologists help people deal with mental and emotional problems, which can be caused by anything from coping with a recent death to suffering a serious physical injury. If you are interested in a career that requires great listening skills and the ability to relate with the struggles of many different people, you may be fit for a career in clinical psychology.
Work in clinical psychology is very hands-on and requires professionals to work directly with patients on a daily basis. In addition to interviewing patients on their current illnesses, worries or other personal issues, clinical psychologists use an array of different approaches to get to the root of a patient's problem. From here, they can administer a plan for behavior modification and recovery. Many times, clinical psychologists work with doctors and other specialists to design intervention programs and other treatment plans for patients. Depending on the patient, therapy may be provided in an individual, family or group setting.
General clinical psychologists are employed by a variety of medical facilities including hospitals and counseling centers. Many choose to go into private practice, either opening a practice on their own or entering into an already established practice in conjunction with other doctors. Other employment possibilities for clinical psychologists include nursing homes, correctional facilities, family services and schools.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), there were about 170,200 employed psychologists in 2008, with general clinical psychologists earning about a mean annual wage of $72,540 in May 2010. Through 2018, employment for all psychologists is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations. Job prospects should be best for individuals who hold doctoral degrees in specialties like school psychology, counseling or health, as well as those with extensive research backgrounds.
If you choose to become a clinical psychologist, you will need a master's degree at minimum, and will likely need to earn a doctoral degrees for many jobs in counseling, research and teaching. As a psychology student, you may study concepts in cognitive psychology, intelligence testing, personality assessments, behavioral therapy, interventions and psychopathology. Graduate programs in psychology also include practicum work in clinical facilities. A doctoral program in psychology may take about five years to complete, while earning a master's degree in the field can take about two years.
A bachelor's degree program in psychology can be a good foundation for students who intend to pursue graduate education, as well as those who want to get a feel for the subject before continuing on to graduate school. This type of program may cover a wide range of general concepts such as human development, cognition, research methodology, crisis intervention and counseling techniques.