So, What’s a Clinical Psychologist then?

When I thought about it, Clinical Psychologists perform a large range of jobs.

Some of us do lots of assessments, using clinical interviews, questionnaires and tests to understand behaviour and mental health problems. Some of these assessments end up as reports for the courts or other government agencies, like ACC. Some of us do lots of therapy, working with individuals or groups to make changes. Some of us remain in Universities teaching and engaged in psychological research. Some of us move into management. Some of us specialise in working with particular groups of people, children or older persons for example. Some of us specialise in certain problems, such as Eating Disorders, or antisocial behaviour. And some of us, although admittedly not very many, become media personalities.

The thing that binds us together is our training. A Clinical Psychologist will have completed three or four years as an undergraduate student in psychology before going on to post-graduate study. Once in post-grad we complete three years training as a clinician alongside a research degree: either a Masters or a PhD. This is why some of us have the title “Doctor” (those with PhDs) and some of us don’t (those with Masters). At the core of our training sits the “Scientist-Practitioner Model” which states that we need to be trained as both scientists and practitioners. We understand and use the scientific method. We use assessment and treatment methods which have been proven to be effective. And when we begin to work with someone, we generate hypotheses about what is happening for them and then seek to test them through our assessment and treatment. Don’t worry – I do this in my head and try very hard not to sound like a robot when I’m talking to someone.

Me? I primarily work with adults, aged 18 and over. I work a lot with people suffering from anxiety and depression, although I am able to help with other problems too. I have discovered a real love of therapy. I love talking with people and happily do it all day long. And watching people make the changes they want to make is one of the great joys of my life.

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