A clinical psychology handles the assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental illnesses in various populations. While these mental health clinicians can be employed in the medical environment, such as hospitals and psychiatric centers, they cannot prescribe medication to people (Cherry, 2015).
As far as health prevention, clinical psychologists can help clients prevent suicidal attempts, inuring oneself and other people, and to stay within proper levels of mental, cognitive, and physical functioning by devising effective psychotherapy and/or drugs to help alleviate negative symptoms. Some of the disorders that psychologists deal with include depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder. A psychologist uses the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the latest version entitled DSM-V, which includes a list of disorders and a classification system and criteria needed to diagnose individuals with specific disorders (Association, 2013).
Besides getting one’s Master’s degree in psychology or a related field, one must also get one’s/doctorate of PsyD in clinical psychology. There are also specific credentials and licensing requirements that are needed to become a licensed clinical psychologist. According to the book “How to Be a Clinical Psychologist” the Master’s level requires that the “National Board of Certified Counselors regulate clinical psychology students. Responsible for certifying counselors in general practice and in specialty areas, the clearing houses were created in 1982, focusing on mental health, addiction, and school counseling” (Nadolski, 2012, p. 15).
In order to be a clinical psychologist, the National Counselor Examination (NCE) must be taken to get one’s state licensure and National Counselor Certification. Fortunately, several states use the NCE this exam as part of their licensing requirements. This exam, comprised of 200 questions, tests one’s knowledge, skills, and abilities in the field of counseling field. The test taker is assessed in the following areas: group counseling, professional orientation, ethics, human growth and development, helping relationships, appraisal, research and program evaluation, and social/cultural foundations. In addition to this, an array of work behaviors are also tested, including clinical/programmatic intervention, professional practice situations, career/assessment counseling, and group counseling (Nadolski, 2012).
The NCC credential is also needed. It shows that the NCC has fulfilled the national standards that are important. In order to be able to receive the NCC credential, the individual must fulfill 60 semester credit hours of coursework, which is associated with CACREP core requirements, and 3,000 clinical supervised hours. In some states, another 100 hours of face-to-face supervision over three years is needed. To get the NCC, one must have passed the NCE (Nadolski, 2012).
Licensing is another area that is usually required in most states. Each state is responsible for outlining license standards and who gets these licenses. To obtain one’s license, an individual must pass the NCE or the National Clinical Mental Health Exam (NCMHCE).The NCMHCE centers on clinical problem-solving skills, which is measured by the individual reading ten mental health counseling cases. The remainder of the test looks at one’s problem- solving skills that focus on identification, analysis, treatment and diagnosis (Nadolski, 2012).
While continuing education requirements will differ somewhat, depending on what company one works for, continuing education requirements are wise to keep oneself updated on the latest theories, advances, and research in psychology. Many states also require one to take some continuing education credits to maintain one’s license.
The clinical psychology field is quite open, upcoming fields include forensic psychology. The average wage for a clinical psychologist is about $69,280 per year or $33.31 per hour, the number of jobs about 160,000. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Employment of psychologists is projected to grow 12 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Job prospects should be best for those who have a doctoral degree in an applied specialty and those with a specialist or doctoral degree in school psychology” (Psychologists, 2014, p. 1).
A clinical psychologist can work with the older population, in the school system as a school psychologist, an education psychologist, an industrial psychologist, and/or with people with traumatic brain injuries. In addition to this, psychologists can also open their private practice. A psychologist can specialize in a range of areas, such as the LGBT population, an up and coming area, Attention Deficit disorder (ADD), Autism Spectrum Disorders, Substance abuse and dependence issue, eating disorders, mood and anxiety disorders, as well as disruptive behavior disorders (Nadolski, 2012).
One of the positive parts of being a clinical psychologist is that the starting pay is good, the average wage close to $70,000. Most jobs do not start off that high. However, the area of clinical psychology offers many perks, such as having much independence, especially if one opens one’s own private practice. If a clinical psychologist works for oneself, then one can also set one’s hours and make one’s own schedule. While a clinical psychologist in a hospital or medical setting has to coordinate with other mental health clinicians and other people involved in a client’s case, the job offers much autonomy and versatility. The clinical psychology career also offers variety and new situations that require one to think on one’s feet (Nadolski, 2012). Being a clinical psychologist in any setting also offers many rewards, a psychologist helping a client to grow, heal, and hopefully live a more fulfilling and satisfying life.
Yet, the career also seems to have many drawbacks, including the tendency to be isolated. There is also much paperwork and documentation required that often has to be submitted within a short period of time. This can be stressful at times and make one more prone to burnout and anxiety. As psychologists often meet with individuals, the lack of colleague and social interaction throughout the day can be hard. It can also be hard not to bring problems home, clinical psychologists sometimes feeling depressed and sympathizing too much with the negative symptoms of clients. At times, one needs to delegate tasks to other professionals, as one can be overloaded by counseling responsibilities. Insurance companies can also make things difficult, often allowing a certain number of visits even when the client needs more sessions.
A clinical psychologist has many career opportunities, from the school to the hospital setting, a good starting wage a benefit to this career. A career that requires many years of training, exams, and licensure, the field of clinical psychology is rewarding, the clinical psychologist helping clients handle mental health disorders that can get in the way of emotional, cognitive, and mental health.