Clinical Psychology is the application of science to understand human thought, emotion and behaviour. It uses researched tools and methods to reduce psychological distress and promote psychological well-being. Clinical Psychologists are also able to undertake psychometric assessments in a variety of areas (including cognitive functioning) and often conduct 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, asdjustment 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 their qualifications?
Registered clinical psychologists will have a degree in psychology plus an additional three years of postgraduate experience and university training 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, but clinical psychologists may begin practising following the completion of a Master's level practising degree in some countries.
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. However, a clinical psychologist has been trained to help you think about whether a psychological therapy like cognitive behaviour therapy 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 usually specialise in providing one particular therapy. 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.