What is Clinical Psychology?
To understand clinical psychology it is useful to understand the training. Clinical psychologists must have an honours degree in psychology. They typically go on to gain experience in research or as an assistant psychologist before applying for the doctoral programme. During the doctorate, clinical psychologists must spend three years working in the NHS in six different settings to gain sufficient practical experience alongside the academic requirements. Upon qualification most psychologists begin to specialise in areas they enjoy, for example with children, families or adults. They must undergo further training throughout their career and all psychologists treating patients must undergo supervision to ensure the quality of their work.
When you meet with a psychologist you will undergo a very detailed assessment from which you will be given a formulation of your problems, an understanding of the severity of your difficulties. For example if you are suffering with a clinically significant level of depression or anxiety, an explanation of why these problems are likely to have occurred and a treatment plan will be provided. It may be decided that you would benefit from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or if you have tried this therapy and it hasn’t worked, a different approach may be used. Therapy is collaborative and transparent.
A common question people ask is what is the difference between psychologists and psychiatrists. Psychologists are not psychiatrists. They do not prescribe medication. Psychiatrists are medically trained doctors who specialise in psychiatry.