Psychologists who provide clinical or counseling services assess and treat mental, emotional and behavioral disorders. They integrate the science of psychology and the treatment of complex human problems with the intention of promoting change.

Understanding Clinical Psychology

In the simplest terms, clinical psychology is “the study of individuals, by observation or experimentation, with the intention of promoting change.” 1 Seems pretty straightforward, right?

In fact, clinical psychology is a complex and diverse specialty area within psychology. It addresses a breadth of mental, emotional and behavioral disorders, integrating the science of psychology with the prevention, assessment, diagnosis and treatment of a wide variety of complicated human problems.

Clinical Psychology Applied

As the field of clinical psychology has evolved, so too have the expectations of today’s practitioner. Psychologists who provide clinical services are now trained in a wide range of techniques and theoretical approaches that equip them with the knowledge and skills necessary to advance the science of psychology, the professional practice of psychology, and people’s general health and well-being. Thanks to their knowledge and skill set, clinical psychologists enjoy careers in industries as varied as research, integrated health care, teaching, program development and evaluation, consultation, public policy and professional practice.

Long gone are the days when clinical psychologists only worked in limited settings such as private practices or state hospitals. Today, many work in teams with other health, public health or social service organizations.

Some clinical psychologists work exclusively on specific mental, emotional and behavioral issues. These range from short-term problems, such as difficulties resulting from relationship conflict or work stress, to more serious and often chronic conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction. Others focus on specific populations like youth; families; couples; racial and ethnic groups; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals; and older people.

The application of their research and the science behind their work make clinical psychologists invaluable in mental health and health care settings alike and in hospitals, schools, courts, the government, the military — almost anywhere you can imagine.

1 Compas, Bruce & Gotlib, Ian. (2002). Introduction to Clinical Psychology. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

For Students

Clinical psychologists help people live healthier lives, applying the research and science of behavior change to the problems their patients experience.

Resources for StudentsResources to help you pursue a career in psychology
A degree in psychology can lead to a fulfilling career that makes a difference in people’s lives. 
  


Pursuing a Career in Clinical PsychologyFind out what it takes to become a clinical psychologist
Clinical psychologists assess and treat mental, emotional and behavioral disorders. They use the science of psychology to treat complex human problems to promote change.

For Teachers

An advanced degree in psychology is the foundation of many interesting career paths within the discipline. In addition, an understanding of the science of psychology — for example, by earning a bachelor’s degree in the subject — can help students in their careers and their lives.

Resources for TeachersExplore classroom resources
Understanding the science of psychology can help students in their careers and their lives. Psychological science is the foundation of many interesting career paths.
  


Psychology Can Take You Great PlacesLearn what it takes to pursue a career in psychology
You don’t have to look far to see the impact that psychologists make. They contribute in almost every profession, from health care and law enforcement to sport performance and space exploration.

For School Counselors

Having a passion for discovery, learning and listening are part of what it takes to be successful as a psychologist who delivers clinical or counseling services. Psychologists trained to provide clinical services work in research, education, training and health sectors. 

If your students are interested in understanding human behavior and enjoy working with people, a career as a clinical or counseling psychologist may be an option for them.

Resources for CounselorsResources to help your students pursue a career in psychology
A degree in psychology can lead to a fulfilling career that makes a difference in people’s lives.

  


Pursuing a Career in Clinical PsychologyFind out what it takes to become a clinical psychologist
Clinical psychologists assess and treat mental, emotional and behavioral disorders. They use the science of psychology to treat complex human problems to promote change.