Clinical Psychology is the application of science to understand human thought, emotion and behaviour. In the practice of clinical psychology evidence-based methodology and tools are utilised to assess, diagnose, and carry out psychotherapeutic support. The ultimate aim of clinical psychology work is to accurately identify and reduce psychological distress as well as promote psychological well-being. Clinical Psychologists may undertake a range of psychological and psychometric assessments, such as with cognitive or academic functioning as well as in clinical areas of personality and psychopathology. Some clinical psychologists may also be practitioner/researchers, actively engaging in research to help advance scientific knowledge of mental health.
Who do clinical psychologists work with?
They work in a variety of settings from schools to outpatient clinics and inpatient hospitals. They tend to work with individuals with mental or physical health difficulties which might include anxiety, depression, serious and enduring mental health problems, adjustment to physical illness, neurological disorders, addictive behaviour, childhood behavioural disorders, personal and family relationships and learning disability. They also work with people who simply wish to have a better undertsanding of their cognitive profile or pattern of interacting with others.
What are the qualifications for Clinical Psychologists?
Clinical psychologists will have obtained at least a Masters degree in the specific training of practising clinical psychology. In order to be officially registered with or licensed by any regulatory body in most countries however, a doctoral degree, PhD or PsyD, specifically in clinical psychology is a basic requirement, to include at minimum a year of internship in applying the science of psychology to clinical problems. Most clinical psychologists are required to have significant relevant work experience before being accepted onto a doctoral training course, and thus it takes 6-9 years to achieve full doctoral qualification. In some countries Master's level clinical psychologists may begin practising following the completion of the Master's degree and appropriate registration as a Master's level clinical psychologist.
In the UK, USA, and Australia, for example, all clinical psychology graduates who wish to practice and call themselves Clinical Psychologists, must first pass professional tests set by the relevant regulatory board (HCPC, UK; Individual State Licensing Board, USA; APRA, Australia) and provide a high level of evidence of supervised practice in order to achieve the right to refer to themselves as clinical psychologists and render services as such. They must additionally be accepted as a member of a professional organisation such as the British Psychological Society (BPS, UK), American Psychological Association (APA), or Australian Psychological Society (APS) and uphold the code of conduct an ethics, maintain minimu CPD and supervisory requirements as well as maintain a clear practising record and have appropriate professional indemnity insurance in place.
While there is no regulatory body in Hong Kong for psychology, psychotherapy or counselling, and therefore there exists no possibility for being registered in Hong Kong, there are a number of voluntary bodies who offer professional membership to those who meet the criteria set by each organisation.
What is the difference between a clinical psychologist, a psychiatrist and a therapist?
A clinical psychologist and a psychiatrist often work in the same setting and both can give mental health dignosis. A psychiatrist is additionally trained to select and qualified to prescribe and monitor medications where deemed appropriate. A clinical psychologist has been trained to carry out psychometric assessments in the course of preparing a diagnosis and to help you think about whether a psycholotherapeutic intervention, such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), may help, whereas a psychiatrist can help you think about whether a biological treatment such as an anti-depressant may help. Clinical psychologists often work alongside psychiatrists and may refer you to one if they feel it will be helpful; and psychiatrists may refer you to a clinical psychologist if they feel this will be helpful.
Therapists and counsellors typically do not have training in psychometric assessments and tyipcally specialise in providing one or two particular types of psychotherapy. If you know what form of therapy would most likely help your problem, you might go directly to see a therapist or a counsellor.
How do I get to see a clinical psychologist?
You can refer yourself directly to see a clinical psychologist and referrals can also come from teachers, doctors, or other educational or health care professionals. All referrals are treated in a non-judgmental manner and with the strictest confidence. When you meet with a clinical psychologist, the initial meeting will usually be for an assessment and then the clinician will discuss with the client teh treatment options.
Call today to learn if working with a clinical psychologist might be an option for you.