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Career profile Clinical Psychologist

Also known as Applied Behavior Science Specialist (ABSS), Child Psychologist, Clinical Psychologist, Clinical Therapist, Counseling Psychologist, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Pediatric Psychologist, Psychologist, Psychotherapist

Clinical Psychologist

Also known as Applied Behavior Science Specialist (ABSS), Child Psychologist, Clinical Psychologist

Interests Profile
  • Investigative
  • Social
  • Artistic
Pay Range
$46,410 - $138,550 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Social Perceptiveness
  • Active Listening
  • Speaking
Knowledge Areas
  • Psychology
  • Therapy and Counseling
  • Customer and Personal Service
Core tasks
  • Supervise and train interns, clinicians in training, and other counselors.
  • Prepare written evaluations of individuals' psychological competence for court hearings.
  • Conduct assessments of patients' risk for harm to self or others.
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What does a Clinical Psychologist do?

Clinical Psychologists assess, diagnose, and treat mental and emotional disorders of individuals through observation, interview, and psychological tests.

In addition, Clinical Psychologists

  • help individuals with distress or maladjustment understand their problems through their knowledge of case history, interviews with patients, and theory,
  • provide individual or group counseling services to assist individuals in achieving more effective personal, social, educational, and vocational development and adjustment,
  • may design behavior modification programs and consult with medical personnel regarding the best treatment for patients.

What kind of tasks does a Clinical Psychologist perform regularly?

Clinical Psychologists are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Collect information about individuals or clients, using interviews, case histories, observational techniques, and other assessment methods.
  • Counsel individuals, groups, or families to help them understand problems, deal with crisis situations, define goals, and develop realistic action plans.
  • Document patient information including session notes, progress notes, recommendations, and treatment plans.
  • Interact with clients to assist them in gaining insight, defining goals, and planning action to achieve effective personal, social, educational, or vocational development and adjustment.
  • Develop therapeutic and treatment plans based on clients' interests, abilities, or needs.
  • Use a variety of treatment methods, such as psychotherapy, hypnosis, behavior modification, stress reduction therapy, psychodrama, or play therapy.
  • Identify psychological, emotional, or behavioral issues and diagnose disorders, using information obtained from interviews, tests, records, or reference materials.
  • Write reports on clients and maintain required paperwork.
  • Consult with or provide consultation to other doctors, therapists, or clinicians regarding patient care.
  • Obtain and study medical, psychological, social, and family histories by interviewing individuals, couples, or families and by reviewing records.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of counseling or treatments and the accuracy and completeness of diagnoses, modifying plans or diagnoses as necessary.
  • Select, administer, score, and interpret psychological tests to obtain information on individuals' intelligence, achievements, interests, or personalities.
  • Advise clients on how they could be helped by counseling.
  • Develop and implement individual treatment plans, specifying type, frequency, intensity, and duration of therapy.
  • Consult with other professionals, agencies, or universities to discuss therapies, treatments, counseling resources or techniques, and to share occupational information.
  • Refer clients to other specialists, institutions, or support services as necessary.
  • Maintain current knowledge of relevant research.
  • Consult reference material, such as textbooks, manuals, or journals, to identify symptoms, make diagnoses, or develop approaches to treatment.
  • Observe individuals at play, in group interactions, or in other contexts to detect indications of mental deficiency, abnormal behavior, or maladjustment.
  • Provide consulting services, including educational programs, outreach programs, or prevention talks to schools, social service agencies, businesses, or the general public.
  • Provide occupational, educational, or other information to individuals so that they can make educational or vocational plans.

The above responsibilities are specific to Clinical Psychologists. More generally, Clinical Psychologists are involved in several broader types of activities:

Assisting and Caring for Others
Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
Documenting/Recording Information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others
Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.

What is a Clinical Psychologist salary?

The median salary for a Clinical Psychologist is $79,820, and the average salary is $89,290. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Clinical Psychologist salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Clinical Psychologists earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Clinical Psychologists earn less than $46,410 per year, 25% earn less than $60,750, 75% earn less than $104,860, and 90% earn less than $138,550.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Clinical Psychologists is expected to change by 10.4%, and there should be roughly 9,400 open positions for Clinical Psychologists every year.

Median annual salary
$79,820
Typical salary range
$46,410 - $138,550
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
10.4%

What personality traits are common among Clinical Psychologists?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Clinical Psychologist are usually higher in their Investigative, Social, and Artistic interests.

Clinical Psychologists typically have very strong Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Also, Clinical Psychologists typically have very strong Social interests. Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.

Lastly, Clinical Psychologists typically have moderate Artistic interests. Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Clinical Psychologist tend to value Relationships, Independence, and Achievement.

Most importantly, Clinical Psychologists very strongly value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Second, Clinical Psychologists very strongly value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Lastly, Clinical Psychologists very strongly value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Clinical Psychologists must consistently demonstrate qualities such as concern for others, integrity, and self-control.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Clinical Psychologists, ranked by importance:

Concern for Others
Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Self-Control
Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Stress Tolerance
Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.

What education and training do Clinical Psychologists need?

Many Clinical Psychologists have earned a graduate degree. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a doctoral degree, such as a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D..

Clinical Psychologists may need some on-the-job training, but most candidates will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.

Educational degrees among Clinical Psychologists

  • 8.9% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 44.9% earned a Master's degree
  • 46.2% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Clinical Psychologists

Clinical Psychologists may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as psychology, therapy and counseling, or customer and personal service knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Clinical Psychologists might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Psychology
Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
Therapy and Counseling
Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Sociology and Anthropology
Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures, and their history and origins.
Education and Training
Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

Important Abilities needed by Clinical Psychologists

Clinical Psychologists must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Clinical Psychologists need abilities such as oral comprehension, oral expression, and problem sensitivity in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Clinical Psychologists, ranked by their relative importance.

Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Speech Clarity
The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.

Critical Skills needed by Clinical Psychologists

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Clinical Psychologists frequently use skills like social perceptiveness, active listening, and speaking to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Clinical Psychologists, ranked by their relative importance.

Social Perceptiveness
Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Speaking
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Service Orientation
Actively looking for ways to help people.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.