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Career as a Clinical Psychologist

Career News August 7, 2013

What can you expect from a career working as a clinical psychologist? Before you think about the end result or how to find a job, let’s first discuss about how you will break into the profession by choosing the right school. A school such as University of Maryland College Park, University of Texas, University of Phoenix, or other schools within your home state, should be accredited and offer a bachelor’s degree program in the field of psychology or a closely related field.

What Degree Should You Pursue?

Clinical psychologists who actually work as a leader or by themselves must have a doctorate level degree, either a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D). This is an extremely advanced field, and oftentimes, the education requirements from state to state are extremely demanding. Graduate school will take about six years, or slightly less, depending on the school you attend. Ph.D. programs are research-oriented while Psy.D programs are more concerned with practice. An alternate plan would be to find a master’s degree program in Clinical Psychology. Before pursuing any of these higher degrees, an undergraduate degree will be required. Accreditation is required, and not just by any source, but by the American Psychological Association, which is the premier organization that controls the profession.

After you graduate and earn your educational clout, you must complement this with work experience, supervised directly by a working clinical psychologist, as well as a final exam. Before you can start working on your own, you must be licensed according to your state’s requirements.

Where Will You Work?

Once you are qualified to work, you can decide whether you want to work in a private practice, a hospital or clinic, or perhaps in an academic position. Most clinical psychologists work one-on-one with patients, helping them change their lifestyle and conquer their disorders. However, you may also be called upon to assess a person’s problem and diagnose a disorder, teach others in your profession about the science, help with research, create helpful programs to improve social interactions within an organization, or offer testimony in court.

You may also utilize more than one treatment approach, depending on the state. These might include the psychodynamic approach, which utilizes Freudian techniques such as free association; the idea here is that the unconscious mind dominates much of our behavior. The other option would be cognitive behavioral perspective. This is a bit more modern and involves the psychologist analyzing a person’s feelings, behaviors and thoughts, and then seeing how they interact with one another. Lastly, there is the humanistic perspective, which is a humanist-focused way of thinking, partly holistic, and is motivated by the desire to help realize their goals.

This career will give you the opportunity to work with people, help them overcome problems, and put all of your book smarts to good use in a real world context. The salary expectations are higher for doctors, but the career is friendly to beginners who are willing to earn their bachelor’s degree and pursue higher education. Get involved now by improving the lives of your patients, while moving the entire industry forward into a new generation.

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