Clinical psychologists are trained to understand how people feel, think and behave. They formulate hypotheses about behavior and collect data to test these theories. A clinical psychologist's tools include observation, interview, questionnaires, case histories, and surveys. Clinical psychologists work in academic environments, research facilities or in private practice in the community.
Community Treatment Centers
Most clinical psychologists work in counseling centers, hospitals or clinics, where they assess, diagnose and treat people with mental health or substance-abuse problems. Their duties are specific to the employer. For example, at Valley Mountain Regional Center in Stockton, California, a clinical psychologist participates in intake and eligibility evaluation; coordinates consumer services; completes diagnostic and forensic assessments; conducts psychological interventions; and provides staff training.
Clinical psychologists working as college professors are responsible for a variety of tasks, including teaching graduate and undergraduate courses; conducting and publishing original research; mentoring students; and participating in faculty support positions, such as journal editor. The requirements for this position typically include a Ph.D. from an accredited clinical program; the ability to work with and instruct a diverse student population; a high degree of professionalism; and attention to detail. Applicants generally seek work at a university that supports their research interests.
Clinical psychologists who earn a doctor of philosophy, or Ph.D., generally focus their work on conducting research for colleges or private research facilities, such as psychological test developers. Clinical psychologists working as researchers must not only have a strong background in clinical theories, but must be adept at collecting and analyzing data. Such research is used to develop a theory of clinical psychology, construct a psychological test or replicate an existing body of research.
Some clinical psychologists establish independent practices specializing in certain diagnoses, such as mood disorders, or certain age groups, such as the elderly. According to the BLS, clinical psychologists treat both short-term personal issues and severe, chronic conditions. Those in private practice can set their own hours and see only patients they feel are amenable to treatment. The disadvantages are that many psychologists in private practice must work weekends and holidays to accommodate client work schedules, and they must devote time to building a clientele.
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images