Potentially the largest area of specialization, clinical psychology is a vast subject, with varying degrees of inter-discipline linkages. On one end, pursuing a career in clinical psychology gives you many options in terms of your preferred area of expertise. Be it research based, lecturing at College level, spear heading programs geared for improvement of public welfare; the options are limitless. It is important to bear in mind that Clinical Psychology, is, by no means a default program, one that you stumble on for a lack of options. It is a taxing profession that requires a lot of determination, drive and patience.
Therefore, the first and most important aspect is time. On average, we’re talking about post-graduate training for about 4 years, maybe more-at Doctorate level. This is a bare minimum requirement for you to earn the title of a Clinical Psychologist. It’s a calling, and at this point you ought to be conversant with your preferred area of expertise.
Another very crucial point, is the ability to differentiate between a Ph. D and a Psy. D. The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph. D) is more research oriented, in contrast to the Doctor of Psychology, (Psy. D) which is more inclined towards the professional aspect of Clinical Psychology. This essentially means that one needs to have a clear picture of the path one wants to take, and choose appropriately.
It is quite common for most graduate programs in Clinical psychology to accept undergraduate degrees from other disciplines, but the emphasis is more on a first degree in Psychology. This is mainly because clinical psychologists treat the most severe mental disorders; hence, a solid foundation in the subject gives you an added advantage. Many Clinical psychologists work in hospitals, the larger percentage, almost 70% are in private practice. This,however, does not mean they are licensed doctors, usually they are not allowed to prescribe medication to patients.
It is a relatively well-paying job, especially for the majority who ends up in private practice. It may be demanding, and highly taxing, but it is just as equally rewarding, even more so when you find your feet. This, in the sense that it presents a great opportunity to start your own practice, be your own boss. It also gets your creative juices flowing coming up with creative solutions to different diagnosis, there are no limits.
Clinical psychology does have its fair share of disadvantages, but as I said earlier, it’s all a matter of determination. It’s an exhausting field, with long hours, tons of paper work and the mere volume of work will wear you out. It’s a field that links scientific knowledge, to psychological treatment. It specializes in research, professional practice, evaluation, consultation, public policy, program development, supervision-a quite extensive field, as it were. Therefore, you do have your work cut out.
Finally, Clinical Psychology is a rewarding career; whose advantages far outweigh its disadvantages-highly fulfilling, so by all means, go for it.