If we take a close look at the people we meet in our daily lives, we find stress behind their smiles and pleasantries! Yes, almost every person has some stress or another.
There is the pressure at work to perform, meet deadlines, and always be ahead of the competition. Increasing reports of marital discord indicate that many people are not at peace at home. Our student days, which are supposed to be the best part of one’s life, are affected by the stress of trying to fulfill parental aspirations! It is rare to find someone who is not stressed in today’s times.
Movies and shows have taken the world by storm over the last decade. And rightfully so, these projects bring to life some of the most pertinent issues that reflect modern society’s real sufferings. The 2019 movie Joker did an excellent job at portraying the protagonist in severe mental health conditions; many of those conditions present essentially in today’s society (depression, for example), and how society neglects these individuals, they could lose their way. Another film, A Beautiful Mind by Ron Howard, educates the viewer about schizophrenia. It ingeniously brings the viewer to empathize and – to a degree – experience the confusing pain of schizophrenia, as portrayed by Russell Crowe as genius mathematician John Nash.
In reality, thousands of adults and children suffer from mental, emotional, and behavioural disorders that prevent them from living happy lives. Clinical psychologists can support such people by diagnosing and treating their disorders, and bringing joy to their lives. This noble profession requires extreme compassion, empathy, willpower, and mental strength.
What is clinical psychology?
Clinical psychology involves evaluating, identifying, and treating emotional and mental disorders. This work can range from work with humans who live with anxiety, depression and eating disorders, to severe psychiatric maladies such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. They specialize in assisting with the common issues these people face, like navigating the inner workings of families, mental health clinics, psychiatric hospitals, people’s minds, strange dreams and illusions, and more.
The different careers in clinical psychology
Clinical psychologists have multiple options for specialization. A clinical psychologist may pursue one or more of these sub-specialties:
- Child psychology
- School psychology
- Geriatrics and health psychology
- Substance abuse psychology
- Marriage and family therapy
- Forensic psychology
Qualities and skills of a clinical psychologist
If assisting people to improve their quality of life by promoting well-being and sound mental health calls to you, clinical psychology may be the right career choice. Keep reading to learn which particular professional attributes you’ll need to succeed in this career.
Some of the skills you need are:
- Strong verbal communication: Practitioners should be able to effectively communicate with clients in a warm, supportive, and possibly delicate manner. They must also convey clinical observations to family members and colleagues.
- Good writing skills: Thorough note-taking and report writing are significant parts of a clinical psychologist’s record of a client’s progress.
- Goal-setting abilities: Each client will have distinct goals and an individual timeline for meeting their goals. Clinical psychologists need to balance realism with aspiration when helping to set these goals.
- High ethical standards: Probing someone’s innermost feelings and most troubling psychological states puts them in a vulnerable position. Clinical practitioners must be aware and respectful of all the complex ethical issues involved with this work.
- Clear boundaries: Clinical psychologists must get close to clients in order to understand them, without crossing emotional and physical boundaries defined by professional standards.
- Willpower and focus: Providing effective treatment requires zest, careful observation, and intense attention to detail.
A typical day for a clinical psychologist
Being a psychologist is a unique and divine incumbency, and people who decide to follow this career path don’t think of it as a career but rather as their life’s mission. A lot of genuine love, compassion, generosity, patience, and empathy are required. They truly care for their patients and always give their best.
An authorized clinical psychologist can work one-on-one with individuals or, in some cases, apply their expertise to groups and families. Upon meeting a patient, the first step is to carry out a series of interactions and tests to help the psychologist fully understand why the patient is struggling. With a better understanding of the patient’s mindset, the clinical psychologist can then design a treatment plan to help improve the patient’s well-being.
The career path— How to become a clinical psychologist?
A foundation of education is key to becoming a clinical psychologist. Quality clinical psychology programs are available throughout the country in both in-person and online environments. Many accredited online schools offer clinical psychology degree programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. levels.
Step 1: A bachelor’s degree in psychology
A bachelor’s degree in psychology from a UGC-recognized institute is usually recommended, supporting building a solid psychology base. You get to study all the subjects in psychology and can choose from them to pursue one specialization at the master’s level. At an undergraduate level, students learn about the basics of psychology, including the subject’s history, and assignments relevant to specific types of clinical psychology. Students generally supplement required coursework with electives that help them broaden their understanding of the world and their future clients’ issues.
Step 2: An advanced degree in psychology
To be eligible for a master’s program in clinical psychology, most colleges look for a good score on the GRE (above 1200), a GPA of at least 3.5, and relevant work experience in the field. At the master’s degree level, students begin to focus on specific conditions, treatment philosophies, and patient populations. At this level, clinical psychologists will get their first hands-on experience with clients and will typically be required to complete a comprehensive research project or thesis to graduate. Most programs can be completed in one to two years with a full course load. A few clinical psychology positions, like marriage and family therapists, only require a master’s degree before entering practice.
Step 3: Earning an internship
Clinical psychology programs require a compulsory internship. The American Psychological Association must generally approve internships in clinical and counselling psychology.
Step 4: Pass the psychology exam
You need to qualify the examination for professional practice in psychology. Get in touch with the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards if you have questions.
Step 5: Apply for licensure in your state
To practice psychology, you should be licensed by your state. The Rehabilitation Council of India authorizes psychologists to practice independently. It is desirable to pursue your M.Phil (clinical psychology) to get the credentials. In your M.Phil, you work under a senior psychologist and deal with patients. The majority of the days are spent in the hospital and the rest in colleges. Hence, you get hands-on experience in handling patients. During the final year, you have to write a detailed paper with your professor’s guidance.
Most states require candidates to secure approximately two years of supervised clinical hours after earning Ph.D., Psy.D, or Ed.D. It helps if you have a doctorate in psychology with 1-2 years of job experience under the guidance of a mentor to qualify for licensure.
Clinical psychologist jobs
What do clinical psychologists do?
Some clinical psychologists work exclusively on specific mental, emotional and behavioural issues. The scope of work can vary greatly between patients. These range from short-term problems, such as difficulties resulting from relationship conflict or work stress, to more severe and often chronic conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction. Other practitioners focus on specific populations like youth; families; couples; racial and ethnic groups; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals; and older people.
Where does a clinical psychologist start to work?
One can start their profession by interning and training with various hospitals, corporate organizations, freelancing, school counsellors etc. In India, a career in clinical psychology enables employment opportunities in health centres, private hospitals, research schools, clinics, and rehabilitation centres. Clinical psychologists even work in medical institutions (government and private) and NGOs. They can open their own clinics and hold different seminars or workshops, and teach various tests to students of psychology. Their work includes giving psychotherapy, testing, and diagnosis, and working with psychiatrists.
As far as the progression is concerned, there is no change in the job title. The job title of clinical psychologist will remain the same. However with years of experience, one will progress in the ranks. An entry-level clinical psychologist is known as a junior clinical psychologist. A senior-level clinical psychologist with years of work experience is known as a senior clinical psychologist.
Types of a Clinical Psychologist
As a general clinical psychologist, you’ll most likely work in an office or a hospital, delivering psychotherapy to individuals, couples, groups, and families who are suffering from mental diseases or relationship issues. However, there are a variety of clinical psychology specialties in which you could work, some of which require you to work outside of a clinical setting. These are the types of clinical psychology where you can specialize in:
Behavioural Health Psychologist
Behavioral psychology professionals assume that since all behavior is learned through the conditioning that occurs during interactions with an individual’s environment, it can be analytically studied and observed. Behavioral psychologists also analyze how human actions affect decision-making processes.
Counseling psychologists help people deal with problems and make difficult decisions in various aspects of their lives. It requires a deep understanding of personality, cognition (how we think and make decisions), and communication.
The medical psychologist is the professional with the ability of diagnosing and treating diseases exhibiting psychological and physiological symptoms. They are trained in the way psychological parameters of a disease may affect the physical well-being of a person.
A neuropsychologist is a psychologist who specializes in understanding the relationship between the physical brain and behavior. The brain is complex. Disorders within the brain and nervous system can alter behavior and cognitive function.
Geropsychology is a specialty in professional psychology that applies the knowledge and methods of psychology to understanding and helping older persons and their families to maintain well-being, overcome problems and achieve maximum potential during later life.
Child psychology focuses on the mind and behaviour of children from prenatal development right the way through to adolescence. This particular branch of psychology deals not only with how children develop physically but also how they grow mentally, emotionally and socially as well.
Clinical psychology salary in India
Psychologists with an M.Phil & Ph.D. earn a very handsome salary package. A clinical psychologist’s salary in India varies depending on factors such as education, experience, area of specialization, and working area.
In India, the average salary of a clinical psychologist starts around 35-40k. From hospitals to private clinics, clinical psychologists are employed everywhere. After your master’s, you can set up your clinic and be self-employed. Gaining experience from possible avenues and facing patients during the internship isn’t enough. Add value to your income per month by working with a psychiatrist.
If taken sincerely, and if you are a genuinely passionate clinical psychologist with all your concepts clear, you will be successful in a minimum of three years after your post-graduation. Additionally, keep doing courses and expanding the network for exposure and programs.
How to Become A Clinical Psychologist: FAQ
How does clinical psychology differ from psychiatry?
The difference is minor but significant. Clinical psychologists generally earn a doctorate but are not considered medical doctors. They mainly focus on mental health and well-being, but they are prohibited from prescribing drugs or performing medical interventions. While psychiatrists go to medical school and then complete years of training, specifically in psychiatry. Afterwards, they are permitted to prescribe medications. There is a fair amount of convergence between these two professions, and practitioners often collaborate to meet the complete needs of patients.
Are clinical psychologists called doctors?
Clinical psychologists are professionals with an M.Phil in clinical psychology (wherein they have had an intensive experience of seeing clients under supervision and training). They or those with a master’s in psychology cannot carry the title of a “Dr” unless they qualify for a Doctorate.
Which Indian institutes are the best for this education/training?
Numerous colleges in India offer clinical psychology programs. The best institutes for training are the various PGI and AIIMS of the country. These are top institutes in the country, and since they are government universities, fees are also more moderate.
Some other top colleges for clinical psychology include:
- SRM Institute of Science and Technology (Chennai)
- Lovely Professional University (Phagwara)
- All India Institute of Medical Sciences (New Delhi)
- Jamia Millia Islamia (New Delhi)
- Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda (Vadodara)
- Indira Gandhi National Open University (New Delhi)
- Christ University (Bangalore)
A high satisfying career
Being a clinical psychologist is like a free pass into forbidden territory. People don’t say, but this career is most suitable for you if you can feel them. The clinical psychology profession involves working closely with people, listening to their unhappy states, understanding their abnormal behaviours, and helping them with their emotional, behavioural, and mental difficulties. It is bound to be a career with high levels of job satisfaction. Apart from good job prospects, it allows finding out why people feel and change, what is it that’s happening, and how you can help them make it better for them?
If you are considering a career as a clinical psychologist and need personalized guidance and assistance to fulfill your career dream, hurry up to book a session with one of our international certified expert career counsellors at LaunchmyCareer and begin your journey to this gratifying career.