What Is Clinical Psychology?

Clinical psychology is that subfield of psychology that deals with assessing and evaluating individuals who are suffering from different kinds of mental diseases, abnormalities in behavior and other psychiatric problems. As a field, clinical psychology seeks to understand and predict ahead of time the behavior of people while at the same time providing treatment for the maladjustments and disabilities of the patients who are suffering from any of these problems. In the end, the goal of clinical psychology is to enable individuals to adapt, adjust and develop. Clinical psychology is not confined to a particular age or racial group but rather looks at the different aspects of behavior in people of different age groups and coming from various cultural, social and economic backgrounds.

Clinical psychologists are the professionals who have received the extensive education and training necessary to practice in the field of clinical psychology. They have obtained postgraduate degrees in the field that will allow them to do research, teach and work directly with patients. Clinical psychologists who practice the profession may work in institutions or hold their own private practice and meet clients coming from different age groups either individually or in groups. Using various assessment techniques, they try to determine the nature and cause of the patient’s problem and how this could possibly affect the individual personally or his dealings with people as well as his work and every day activities. Assessment methods include interviews and psychological tests. After clinical psychologists have already deciphered what is causing the patient’s distress, they employ one or a combination of interventions like psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, cognitive retraining and rehabilitation, biofeedback and marital therapy, among others, to help their patients adapt and return to health psychologically, emotionally, socially and physically.

In the realm of research, clinical psychologists are interested in deepening their understanding of human behavior by conducting different studies in the field. They publish their findings in journals and share these in the academe and through conferences and seminars held with colleagues or even with non-psychologists. They may also be called upon to evaluate, develop and implement public policy as it relates to their area of expertise in clinical psychology.

Since clinical psychology encompasses such as broad field, many clinical psychologists choose to specialize in a particular field of study where their expertise is highlighted by a board certification. They can work with patients suffering from mental disorders like psychosis, clinical depression, phobias, addictions and psychological trauma, among others, or choose to work with children in the area of child psychopathology. Some also prefer to help families going through rough times by specializing in family therapy while others choose to use their knowledge of psychological in the justice system by specializing as forensic psychologists. Others prefer to become school psychologists, medical psychologists or sports psychologists. No matter what field they choose to focus on, aspiring clinical psychologists must complete the stringent requirements like education, experience and pass exams before they can be granted the license to practice in the field.

Clinical psychology is a fascinating yet oftentimes challenging field. Practitioners in this area of psychology often have to guard against the stresses they could potentially develop as they deal with patients who are distressed and mentally confused. However, it is a very fulfilling career for those who strive for a deeper understanding of human behavior and want the opportunity to help patients who have particular psychological needs.

Career Spotlight: Clinical Psychologist

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