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Kendra Cherry

What Is Clinical Psychology?

By June 16, 2011

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Clinical psychology is the single largest specialty area within psychology. This field is focused on the assessment, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental disorders. While many clinical psychologists perform psychotherapy with clients, it is important to note that it is not the only career path within clinical psychology. Other options include teaching at the university level, conducting research and administering public programs.

Clinical Psychology
Clinical psychology is focused on the assessment, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental illness.
Photo © bo1982/iStockPhoto

If you are thinking about pursuing clinical psychology as a career, there are a few things you should consider. First, how long are you willing to spend in school and training? Most clinical psychologists possess a doctorate-level degree in clinical psychology, which requires four to six years of post-bachelor's graduate training. Are you interested in working with children, teenagers or adult clients? Your choice may play an important role in the clinical training program you ultimately choose and the area of specialization you pursue.

Another important consideration is which type of degree is best suited to your needs. The traditional Ph.D. degree emphasizes the role of research in addition to preparing graduates for careers as clinical practitioners. Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degrees are focused on the professional aspects of clinical psychology.

Learn more about the clinical psychology, what clinical psychologists do and take a psychology career quiz to help determine if this is the right field for you.


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