Clinical Psychologist

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Clinical Psychologist


There is a theory about childhood. It supposes that anything that happens to a person before the age of five will affect that person for the rest of their lives. Abuse, abandonment, accidents . . . anything traumatic, frightening, or harmful can haunt us forever, causing major problems when a person grows up. The actual incident may be forgotten, but the residual pain and fear can remain, making interpersonal relationships nearly impossible.

Some other people experience problems which are not easily linked to one moment in their past. They live with heightened sensitivity. This can lead to a person who is unable to communicate with others, whose crippling feelings of inadequacy make it impossible for them to function properly in social and work settings.

Clinical psychologists are trained to help us heal our emotional scars and overcome our traumatic histories. They diagnose and treat children, adolescents, and adults who experience difficulting managing their emotions, interacting with others, or suffer from uncontrollable stress and intense feelings of anger and pain. They may have eating disorders, or find themselves unable to follow through on accomplishments and creative endeavors. They are in constant contact with people who are somehow a little bit damaged.

Unlike psychiatrists, who use medications in treating patients, psychologists work with people who are mentally unbalanced, who need to talk through their problems in order to fix them. Psychologists are scientists who apply theory to their treatments - they use cognitive therapy when trying to understand their clients, focusing on their thoughts, feelings, actions and reactions, as well as how they view and interact with the world around them.

While clinical psychologists are busy meeting with their patients, they are also researching, looking at patterns, repetitive behaviors, and other findings from their clients' profiles, coming up with theories about how our minds work and what it is that makes us uniquely human. Unlike social workers and counselors, whose main goal is the well-being of their patients, psychologists are trained scientists who see each new situation as an opportunity to learn, analyze, and develop theory which will lead to a better understanding of the human psyche, and, ultimately, to better mental health for everyone. They are trying to figure out what will erase the sorrows that occurred in those first few years of life, as well as uncover how those sorrows develop, and how they change and manifest themselves over the years. Clinical psychologists are interested in how and why the mind works, and how much control we have over our own selves.
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  Interests and Skills  
Psychologists are scientists. Those interested in a career as a clinical psychologist should be analytical, rational, with a good memory and an inquisitive mind. It is important to have good writing and communication skills, and to be able to speak with children, the mentally ill, and professionals alike. Clinical psychologists are interested in the mental health and mental development. They typically have a keen interest in academics, and enjoy studying, reading, and analyzing other peoples' theories and psychological discoveries. Clinical psychologists must be methodical, organized, patient, and willing to search for answers to seemingly impossible questions.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Analyze patients and diagnose a mental block, illness, or imbalance
  • Develop a treatment plan for patient
  • Research various psychological theories
  • Plan and implement workshops
  • Give talks at various events
  • Come up with hypotheses
  • Design experiments
  • Review the latest literature on various areas of interest
  • Write and publish research papers
  • Manage a staff
  • Keep financial records and advertise
  • A clinical psychologist will spend much of each day in sessions with clients, conducting tests and interviews, in an effort to diagnose and address the clients' complaints of psychological difficulties. They also communicate with other clinical psychologists, as well as researchers, to learn the latest theories and upcoming studies. They may involve themselves in some research, writing and publishing papers, as well as give talks on their area of interest. They spend much of each day indoors, and do a lot of sitting and thinking, and listening.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Clinical psychologists can be found in hospitals, clinics, correctional facilities, shelters, group homes and government agencies. They may work alongside other health care workers in a team of physicians, psychiatrists, and therapists, or they may choose to work in a clinic with only psychologists. They may even choose to set themselves up independently, working out of their own private office. They usually work regular hours, however, some evenings and weekends will be necessary if the clients are only available at those times, or they work for a hospital or clinic which is open at all hours for all sorts of emergencies.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Clinical psychologists can move on to work as researchers, consultants with school boards and corporations, and work as professors or instructors at universities and colleges. They can go from private practice to working for the government, and vice versa. They can choose to open their own private clinic or counseling office. They can publish articles, self-help books, as well as textbooks and other academic writing. They can always choose to travel, lecturing on their area of expertise to community groups, schools, and to other psychologists.

  Educational Paths  
Clinical psychologists must have completed a master's degree, as well as a doctoral program (PhD) in psychology. This means going to school for four years to complete an undergraduate degree, and then returning for two to three more years of intense specialized study, and then a further two to three years to complete their doctorate. In order to enter the profession, they are required to obtain a license. To be licensed they have to pass a professional test and do supervised clinical work after they complete their university studies.


  Universities and Colleges
Clarkson UniversityColorado School of MinesDalhousie University
Oral Roberts UniversityPenn State HarrisburgTemple University
The University of HoustonThompson Rivers UniversityUNB Saint John
University of AlabamaUniversity of ArkansasUniversity of British Columbia
University of IowaUniversity of New BrunswickUniversity of Ottawa
York University
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