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The responsibilities of a clinical psychologist are complex. However, put simply, clinical psychologists are trained to study individuals' mental and behavioral challenges and disorders to promote change. The purpose of a psychologist is to diagnose and treat individuals who suffer from mental disorders and other psychological health conditions. The application of this type of transformation spans several different techniques and psychological therapy methods. It explores helping people from all walks of life in all types of situations. This could be in a hospital or clinical setting, but it could also be applied through research and through mental health programs.

Core responsibilities of psychological services include assessments and evaluations of individuals, psychological tests and treatment methods, and follow-up care and resources. Depending on the specific job description of a clinical psychologist position, this may involve handling intervention, clinical counseling, preventative care, or assisting someone through a life change, if not all of the above.

Common responsibilities of clinical psychologists on the job may include:

  • Observe patients in various settings and interpret intelligence and personality
  • Identify psychological, emotional or behavioral issues
  • Diagnose psychological, emotional or behavioral disorders
  • Develop and implement treatment plans and therapeutic processes
  • Help clients define goals and plan action to achieve personal, social, educational and vocational development and adjustment
  • Monitor client progress through regular meetings or sessions
  • Consult other healthcare professionals regarding mental health issues, psychological assessment, and patient care
  • Communicate with counsels and family members when necessary
  • Teach classes
  • Participate in educational programs, clinician meetings, and workshops to stay current with methodologies and techniques
  • Conduct research
  • Publish research findings in industry journals

Although clinical psychologists may see similar cases throughout their years of practice, each is uniquely based on a person’s background, current support system, and other factors that aid or inhibit progress. A clinical psychologist needs to have a diverse background in education and experience in order to apply the right treatment and techniques appropriate for the situation and person.

The clinical psychologist job description requires research, coursework, and field training in professional psychology. It also calls for determination, passion, and a desire to guide people through their mental health issues and struggles on a daily basis. Clinical psychologist duties are challenging, but the work can be rewarding.

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Clinical Psychologist Requirements

To pursue clinical psychologist career, it requires a doctoral degree from an accredited program. At Alliant, we offer both a Clinical Psychology PhD program as well as a Clinical Psychology PsyD degree, each accredited by the American Psychology Association (APA). Students who enter either of these programs can choose a specialized route, which includes an emphasis in Family/Child Couple, Multicultural Community Clinical Psychology, Trauma, Stress, Resilience, Health Psychology, and Integrative Psychology, among other options. 

Each Clinical Psychology program pairs coursework with hands-on training to prepare students for real-world situations as they pursue this professional path and experience in the field of professional psychology. Alliant maintains partnerships with hundreds of practice sites. This allows students to receive onsite learning through college counseling centers, mental health organizations, hospitals, and other environments. All of these are necessary for a student's educational and professional growth.

Preparing students to meet the requirements issued by the state of California for a clinical psychologist job, the program also assigns internships and focuses on mentorship and building a network to support students. Doctoral students must graduate with at least 1,500 hours of supervised internship experience and an additional 1,500 post-doctoral hours to meet the California Board of Psychology licensure requirement.

A dedicated time span is necessary to complete a clinical psychologist degree. At minimum, it requires five academic years, internships, and practicums to fulfill the curriculum and requirements laid out by each state. Each student must demonstrate competency in the following areas: 

  • Research
  • Ethical and Legal Standards
  • Individual and Cultural Diversity
  • Professional Values and Attitudes
  • Communication and Interpersonal Skills
  • Assessment
  • Intervention
  • Supervision
  • Consultation and Interprofessional/Interdisciplinary Skills

Students also have the choice of being part of a research group with mentorship in a specific area, such as mind-body disorders, autism, traumatic stress, among several other research group topics. The clinical psychologist job description also covers diverse cultural backgrounds, and a key course required for all Clinical Psychology programs is multicultural competence training

This entails a focus on increasing multicultural knowledge and familiarity through research and clinical application. It provides opportunities to interact with faculty and students from various cultural backgrounds. It teaches students how to integrate multicultural perspectives into the work of a clinical psychologist.

It's important to assess progress along the way to ensure the training experiences are aligned with a student's skill levels and professional goals, while also providing a wide breadth of experiences and training. Each study area builds upon the last to prepare students for clinical practice as future counseling psychologists.

Required Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

The clinical psychologist responsibilities require a nuanced blend of knowledge, particularly in addressing mental illness issues and promoting well-being. These are the common attributes, whether it is the role of a counseling psychologist, school psychologist, child psychologist, health psychologist, or clinical social worker.

  • Application of relevant methodologies and techniques 
  • Familiarity with accreditation and certification requirements and standards
  • Understanding of crisis intervention methods
  • Adept in observing and documenting symptoms, responses, and advancements
  • Skillful in interviewing and communicating
  • Capable of modifying mental disorder treatment plan where needed
  • Maintain emotional stability when dealing with human suffering, emergencies, and other stressors

The Value of a Career in Clinical Psychology

Many people feel an innate need to help others. That is the foundational premise of clinical psychology as a professional practice. This desire is fueled by learning the treatment methods, exploring the research, and obtaining the critical competencies it takes to be a professional in this field.

The role of a clinical psychologist has been and will continue to be deemed essential. Clinical psychologists are trained to counsel people through their most difficult life challenges and set a foundation for healing, improvement, and psychological change. A person seeking this clinical counseling career path must have the ability to adapt. There must also be a willingness to pursue continuing education as behaviors and societal changes take place as seen through the increased demand for telehealth and greater access to mental health care to underrepresented communities.

The job description of a clinical psychologist is broad, but the responsibilities are seemingly infinite and ever-changing based on changes in society. It’s important, fulfilling work that leads to a lifetime of valuable experiences working within diverse communities of people who are connected through the central need for psychological support.

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