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How To Become A Clinical Psychologist: Career & Salary Information
Our minds are extremely powerful. It has the power to impact our entire mood, it can make our day, or it could destroy our day. Medical experts have long marveled at the power of the mind, and they realized that the mind could create a perception that is powerful beyond control.
While life is made up of highs and lows, some seem almost trapped or entirely consumed by the lows. When the lows seem constant, it is then that medical experts grow concerned and wary because it is in these moments that mental illnesses and disorders arise.
Clinical psychologists are tasked with the unique role of diagnosing and treating those who suffer from mental illnesses. Treating a variety of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders that encompasses drug addiction, learning difficulties, and anxiety and depression.
To become a clinical psychologist, you would need to complete a bachelor's degree in psychology, you would need to complete either a master's or doctorate, and then you would need to obtain the appropriate licensure or certification to practice as a clinical psychologist.
Let us take a closer look at the career of clinical psychologists and what steps you would need to take to pursue this career.
What Is A Clinical Psychologist?
As humans, we all experience a plethora of emotions. This is normal. However, some emotions are often said to be "bad" emotions. Emotions are not bad; we just don't feel comfortable with the sensation it creates within us.
For example, stress and anxiety are important survival emotions that each and every human experiences. Without stress, we wouldn't be motivated to complete deadlines, and without anxiety, we may end up putting our hands just a little too close to a campfire.
However, this becomes a mental disorder when our stress and anxiety seem to control us. When you have crippling anxiety and you have anxiety attacks about doing something simple like going to the supermarket, that is when it becomes a disorder.
Another issue that arises in mental health is when individuals exhibit behavior that puts them at risk of addiction to substances. When anxiety, stress, and behavioral issues are evident in individuals, clinical psychologists step in to treat and mitigate any further potential harm that individuals may cause to themselves and others.
What Does A Clinical Psychologist Do?
Clinical psychologists provide the service of counseling individuals who suffer from mental illnesses and disorders. Clinical psychologists often find their expertise rooted in psychological theories which have set a standard for an expected societal norm.
Clinical psychologists have the ability to assess individuals to determine if they display any deviations from the expected norms and they proceed with devising treatment plans to treat these individuals.
They work with people from a variety of backgrounds facing a variety of mental health challenges. For example, they may work with young children in treating ADHD, or they may work with adults who suffer from other mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, stress, and anxiety.
While clinical psychology is often referred to as an overarching term, many psychologists may choose to specialize in further clinical fields of psychology. These specialized fields may include neuropsychology or biopsychology to name a few.
Clinical psychologists also find themselves greatly contributing to research within the field of psychology.
Steps To Become A Clinical Psychologist
Step One: Obtain Your Qualification
The starting point in your career towards becoming a clinical psychologist would be to complete your bachelor's degree. While you may not be able to practice as a clinical psychologist, either in a hospital, clinical, or private setting, you may be able to pursue other roles in which a degree in psychology will be beneficial.
However, for the purpose of becoming a clinical psychologist, a bachelor's degree would serve as a steppingstone toward obtaining a higher degree, which is the minimum requirement for becoming a clinical psychologist.
Step Two: Obtain A Master's And/Or Doctorate Degree
Once you have a bachelor's degree, you have the key to unlocking your higher learning opportunities. While many states may require you to have a doctorate to practice as a psychologist, other states may accept a master's degree for you to become certified as a clinical psychologist.
Once you have seen the requirements of the state in which you are hoping to practice, you can then pursue your higher degree.
During your master's degree, and later your doctorate, you can begin narrowing down on the field of focus that you would like to pursue. This will assist you in devising research topics for your higher degrees, as well as assist you in selecting and completing relevant coursework that will benefit you in the area on which you hope to focus.
Step Three: Obtain Field-Related Experience
At its basis, clinical psychology is a medical practice. It is therefore not a surprise that before beginning to fulfill your duties as a clinical psychologist or assuming a role as one, that you are expected to obtain some form of experience under the supervision of a more experienced senior.
Once you have obtained your qualifications, some states may require you to do fieldwork in the form of internships or residencies before you are deemed qualified to take up the role of a practicing clinical psychologist.
It is also important not to underestimate the value of volunteer work and community service as all these services will allow you to receive practical training in an extremely hands-on career.
Step Four: Obtain Your License And Certification
It is extremely important to be aware of your state's requirements when pursuing a career in clinical psychology. You may be required to take a qualifying examination to be licensed and certified as a clinical psychologist.
Additionally, you would need to obtain certification through the American Board of Professional Psychology.
Step Five: Maintain Your License And Certifications
In order to maintain your license or successfully renew your license in the state where you are practicing as a clinical psychologist, you will be required to attend continuous training, seminars, and conferences throughout your career.
This ensures that you stay abreast with the industry updates that happen in the field of psychology.
What Degree Do You Need To Be A Clinical Psychologist?
While in some cases, a master's degree may suffice, it is generally accepted that to become a practicing clinical psychologist, you would need to earn a doctoral degree in psychology.
What Is The Average Salary For Clinical Psychologists?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), clinical and counseling psychologists earn an average annual salary of $99,640.
What Makes A Good Clinical Psychologist?
The primary focus of your job would be to help people. The role of a clinical psychologist is extremely people-centric so it would be important for you to be a people person. You would also need to have a deep yearning to help others get through the difficulties and challenges that they may face.
You would need to possess the innate traits of empathy and a genuine concern for others.
What Is The Job Outlook For Clinical Psychologists?
According to the BLS, the job outlook for psychology expects to see an 8% projected growth between 2020 and 2030.
How Many Years Does It Take To Become A Clinical Psychologist?
If you consider the length of time it would take to complete a bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree, in addition to completing your required field-related experience, it can take between eight and twelve years to become a clinical psychologist.
What Is The Difference Between A Clinical And A Counseling Psychologist?
Clinical psychologists look at the psychopathology of mental illnesses and mental diseases. They work towards diagnosing and devising treatment plans for mental ailments. On the other hand, counseling psychologists serve to do just that – counsel patients through emotional, social, and behavioral challenges that they may face and that may serve as stressors in their lives.
Is A Clinical Psychologist A Doctor?
Clinical psychologists are not, in fact, doctors. While they do treat the mind, they do not conduct blood tests or other physiological assessments on patients, and they focus solely on the mind.
As with all career paths, most people pursue it from a place of deep passion. This is one of those careers that requires a lot of work on your part, but it is extremely rewarding if this is your passion.
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