The responsibilities of a clinical psychologist are complex. However, put simply, clinical psychologists are trained to study individuals’ mental and behavioral challenges and disorders with the intention of promoting change. These health psychologists diagnose and treat individuals who suffer from mental disorders and other psychological health conditions. The application of this type of transformation spans across several different techniques and 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 also could be applied through research and through mental health programs.
Core responsibilities of psychological services include providing assessments and evaluations of individuals, integrating treatment methods, and providing follow-up care and resources. Depending on the specific job description of a clinical psychologist position, this may involve handling intervention, preventative care, or assisting someone through a life change, if not all of the above.
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. It’s essential for a clinical psychologist to have a diverse background in education and experience in order to apply the right kind of treatment and techniques appropriate for the situation and person.
This career path requires research, coursework, and field training. It also calls for determination, passion, and a profound desire to guide people through their struggles on a daily basis. The responsibilities are challenging, but the work is rewarding.
Clinical Psychologist Requirements
To pursue a career as a clinical psychologist, 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. Alliant maintains partnerships with thousands of practice sites. This allows students to receive onsite learning through college counseling centers, mental health organizations, hospitals, in addition to other environments, all of which are necessary for a student’s educational and professional growth.
Preparing students to meet the requirements as issued by the state of California, 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 licensure requirement of the California Board of Psychology.
There is a dedicated span of time 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:
- Ethical and Legal Standards
- Individual and Cultural Diversity
- Professional Values and Attitudes
- Communication and Interpersonal Skills
- 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. 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 and teaches students how to integrate multicultural perspectives into the work of a clinical psychologist.
It’s important to assess progress along the way to make sure 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 area of study builds upon the last to prepare students for clinical practice.
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. Learning the treatment methods, exploring the research, and obtaining the critical competencies it takes to be a professional in this field is fueled by this desire.
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 challenges of life and set a foundation for healing, improvement, and psychological change. A person seeking this 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 of working within diverse communities of people who are connected through the central need of psychological support.