What Does a Clinical Psychologist Do?
Clinical psychologists provide services to individuals, families, and groups with mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders. These psychologists assess, diagnose, and treat people with acute concerns and chronic conditions. Clinical psychologists interview patients, administer diagnostic tests, and provide therapy to families and individuals. Although clinical psychologists may treat patients, they are not physicians and cannot prescribe medication in most states.
As a large and diverse field, clinical psychology includes professionals working in healthcare, education, research, and training. Some clinical psychologists provide general psychological treatment, while others focus on specific disorders or populations such as children, aging adults, or patients with physical health problems. In addition to direct care, clinical psychologists may also provide consultation to other health professionals and organizations.
Job satisfaction is very high among clinical psychologists. This job requires professionals to work with vulnerable populations, so clinical psychologists must possess compassion, patience, understanding, and strong communication skills.
Read on to learn more about online degree programs for clinical psychology.
What Is the Difference Between Clinical and Counseling Psychology?
Clinical psychology and counseling psychology share many similarities. Professionals in both fields practice psychotherapy, sometimes referred to as talk therapy. The primary difference between the two lies in the types of clients and issues they usually treat. Counseling psychologists generally help patients across the lifespan understand and navigate problems at home, work, or in their communities. Clinical psychologists often see clients experiencing severe symptoms of mental disorders.
Counseling psychology doctoral programs delve into assessment and evaluation, human lifespan development, and theories of counseling. In clinical psychology programs, students may learn about clinical assessment and diagnosis, interviewing patients, and clinical psychopharmacology. Students also explore child and adolescent therapy, individual and group therapy, and cognitive and behavioral therapy. Graduates of either program can work in private practices, schools, hospitals, and other centers and agencies.
Frequently Asked Questions About Clinical Psychology
What degree is needed for clinical psychology?To become a clinical psychologist, each individual must earn a minimum of a master's degree. Master's degree-holders can practice general psychological therapy, but earning a doctoral degree in the discipline allows professionals to pursue more specialized and advanced career opportunities.
How many years does it take to become a clinical psychologist?The length of time it takes to become a clinical psychologist can differ depending on the circumstances and the degree level. Earning a bachelor's degree in psychology usually takes learners about four years, while master's degrees take around 2-3 years, and doctoral programs can last 4-7 years. Once candidates satisfy their educational requirements, they take between 1-2 years to complete training and licensing requirements.
What do clinical psychologists do?Clinical psychologists diagnose psychological issues and provide treatment. These psychologists collaborate with other medical professionals to ensure patients receive quality care. Clinical psychologists provide individual and group therapy.
What can you do with a bachelor's degree in clinical psychology?Earning a bachelor's degree in clinical psychology can prepare graduates for many entry-level career opportunities across the field. Some common job titles for graduates to consider include correctional treatment specialists, labor relations managers, and community organization workers.
Can a clinical psychologist prescribe medicine?While a few states allow clinical psychologists to prescribe medicine, most states do not. These psychologists can prescribe medication in Louisiana, New Mexico, and Illinois, along with military settings. In these states, psychologists must meet specific criteria before receiving prescriptive authority.
Online Psychology Degree Programs
Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.
Can You Get a Degree in Clinical Psychology Online?
Students can choose from dozens of online programs when pursuing bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degrees in clinical psychology. Online programs generally include the same core curriculum as campus-based programs, so distance learners become just as prepared to enter the workforce as their on-campus peers.
Online programs offer several advantages for learners who require flexibility.
Online programs offer several advantages for learners who require flexibility. Students can access class materials whenever and wherever is most convenient for them. This allows enrollees with work, family, and other responsibilities to complete schoolwork on their own schedules. Some online programs have several different start dates throughout the year, as well. Online learners can typically choose whether to complete their studies part-time or full-time.
Clinical psychology students may also save money by earning their degrees online. Some institutions give distance learners tuition discounts or charge flat rates for in-state and out-of-state residents. Online schools sometimes have shorter terms than traditional programs, allowing degree-seekers to graduate sooner and incur fewer costs.
Are Practicums and Internships Required in an Online Clinical Psychology Program?
How Do I Become a Clinical Psychologist?
Aspiring clinical psychologists should plan to devote several years to their education and supervised clinical experience before earning their licenses. Undergraduate degrees do not lead to licensure, but aspiring professionals must obtain them before pursuing graduate-level education. Students typically complete a bachelor's degree in four years.
Psychology master's programs take 2-4 years, depending on the school and how many credits students take each semester. Doctoral programs include more extensive coursework, generally taking 5-7 years to complete. These programs also typically include a one-year internship. Many states also require candidates seeking licensure to complete one year of supervised clinical work after earning their doctorates, though many states continue to drop this requirement.
A 2016 APA study found that students who earned master's degrees in psychology accrued an average of $60,000 in debt. Recent graduates of clinical psychology doctoral programs had about $113,600 in debt. Additionally, licensure fees, which include application, exam, and initial licensing costs, can range from $500-$1,000 or more. Students who pursue their degrees online may save a significant amount of money. For instance, online learners do not have to pay fees for campus-based amenities and can continue working full-time jobs while pursuing their degrees.
Online Bachelor's Degree in Clinical Psychology
Earning a bachelor's degree is the first step to becoming a clinical psychologist. Schools do not typically have undergraduate programs in clinical psychology. Instead, they offer a bachelor's in psychology with a clinical or counseling concentration. These degrees prepare students to pursue master's degrees in clinical psychology, counseling psychology, or social work.
Some online programs also offer dual-degree options, allowing undergraduates to begin coursework for their master's degree. Some online clinical psychology Ph.D. programs accept applicants who only hold bachelor's degrees, potentially saving students a significant amount of time and money.
Human Development in Childhood and Adolescence
Online Master's Degree in Clinical Psychology
After earning an undergraduate degree, clinical psychology students may pursue a master's degree or a doctoral program. Students interested in an online master's in clinical psychology may choose either a master of arts degree, which generally includes a stronger emphasis on a liberal arts curriculum, or a master of science degree, which is more focused on STEM-related topics. Some clinical psychology master's programs include specializations.
Potential concentrations include clinical counseling, forensic psychology, sex therapy, and applied research. Colleges typically deliver online master's programs through full-time enrollment, but some offer part-time schedules. Online master's students complete any required practicums or internships at approved agencies in their communities.
Introduction to Psychopathology
Ethics and Standards of Professional Practice
Group Process and Dynamics
Online Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology
Earning a doctorate in clinical psychology is a major step towards obtaining licensure. In most states, each clinical psychologist must hold a doctoral degree in psychology. Students can earn either a Ph.D. in clinical psychology or a Psy.D. in clinical psychology. While a Ph.D. typically focuses on research and requires students to write dissertations based on original research, a Psy.D. emphasizes practical work for students who want to pursue clinical practice.
All accredited psychology programs require field experience, which may include clinical hours or an in-person internship. Online students can typically complete these field experiences near their residence. However, some clinical psychology Ph.D. programs require distance learners to attend residencies on campus.
After a student graduates and completes the licensure requirements set by their state, they can practice as a general clinical psychologist or pursue a specialty, such as clinical neuropsychology, health psychology, child psychology, and geropsychology.
Strategies of Clinical Supervision and Consultation
Psychology and Social Change
Required Licenses and Internships to Become a Clinical Psychologist
Clinical psychologists must receive state licensure to practice professionally. Requirements vary, but most states require each clinical psychologist to hold a doctorate in psychology, complete an internship, and perform 1-2 years of supervised clinical work. Depending on the state, students will need to accrue 1,500-6,000 total hours of supervised experience.
Candidates also must pass the examination for professional practice in psychology, a licensing exam administered by ASPPB. Test-takers must correctly answer about 70% of the questions to pass. Candidates pay a $450 exam fee and a $65 fee to the testing center. Some states also charge extra administrative fees. The total cost after submitting the application, fees, and taking the exam can reach $500-$1,000. Psychology students should refer to the ASPPB to learn the specific requirements for their state.
Careers for Clinical Psychology Degree-Holders
After graduating from a doctoral program and earning licensure in their state, clinical psychologists may work in hospitals, private health care practices, mental health facilities, schools, and more. They can practice as general clinical psychologists or pursue specialties in the field.
The APA recognizes the specialties of clinical neuropsychology, health psychology, child psychology, and professional geropsychology. Common traits of successful psychologists include analytical, interpersonal, observational, and problem-solving skills. They must also possess integrity and patience, as patients need to trust them to treat sensitive problems.
What Does a Clinical Psychologist Make in a Year?
Clinical psychologists earned a median annual wage of $76,990 in 2018. The offices of other health practitioners offer clinical psychologists the highest concentration of employment and highest salary opportunities for the occupation. California features the highest employment levels and pay for clinical psychologists. Rhode Island boasts the highest concentration of jobs for these professionals.
Salary data differs depending on location, experience level, and educational background. Holding an advanced degree and more years of experience in the field typically leads psychologists to higher earning potential. Across the field, salaries range from $44,040 in the bottom 10% to $129,310 in the top 90% of the occupation.
In the table below, readers can compare the clinical psychologist salary figures to comparable career opportunities to better understand their options in terms of high-paying occupations in the field.
|Position||Average Annual Salary|