Clinical psychologists diagnose and treat behavioural and mental disorders in a variety of settings including hospitals, universities, government agencies and managed health care organisations. They provide individual, family and group psychotherapy and develop and implement prevention and treatment programs. Because clinical psychologists work with individuals of all developmental and psychological levels, they must possess a diverse set of skills to effectively perform their jobs.
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Clinical psychologists must be licensed in the state where they practice. To qualify for licensure a clinical psychologist must meet educational requirements in their state or licensing jurisdiction. In most states, a master's or doctoral degree is required to sit for licensing exams and to practice in the profession.
In school, clinical psychologists learn biological, physical and social sciences as well as statistics and mathematics. Clinical psychologist programs also have a heavy emphasis on research and experimental methods. Programs incorporate computer-based analysis and practical coursework involving child psychology, counselling psychology and developmental and behavioural psychology.
Clinical psychologists need extensive reasoning skills. They must communicate both verbally and in writing. Communicating with patients and presenting ideas and solutions in a way patients can understand is one of the most important parts of a clinical psychologist's job. Clinical psychologists need the ability to identify and understand problems and apply both inductive and deductive reasoning skills to produce solutions to the problems.
Clinical psychologists need critical thinking skills. They must think logically and use reason to help patients solve problems. Clinical psychologists also need active listening skills to give patients their full attention. Active learning skills are necessary to help clinical psychologists accept and utilise new information and developments in their field. Active learning skills involve the ability to learn new information as well as develop new learning habits. Most of all, clinical psychologists need complex problem solving skills. They must be able to identify problems and develop alternatives and appropriate solutions.
Clinical psychologists treat a wide range of patients and mental conditions. The profession can be stressful and mentally draining. Clinical psychologists are expected to be emotionally stable and mature. They must be sensitive to the needs of patients and their families. Clinical psychologists need the ability to inspire patients and gain their trust. Because psychotherapy treatments may take a long time to see results, clinical psychologists must be patient and willing to work with patients for months or years at a time.
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