How to Become a Clinical Psychologist: All you need to know

Nowadays, clinical psychologists play a significant role in our life, as almost everyone is considerably focusing on their psychological health. If you are preparing to be a successful biomedical engineer, make sure that you know the series of education requirements, job options, and certification for starting this career.

Workplaces for clinical psychologists, including hospitals or academic practice, are looking for people from a wide spectrum of disciplines. However, who can become a mental health counselor and how? It is noticeable that there is a general path to be a qualified candidate, and 7 important steps are shown as below.

Step 1: Understand Clinical Psychologist description and responsibilities.

Before people starting to decide their major and the job they will devote themselves to, the first step is always to fully understand the definition and duties of that. A clinical psychologist is someone who helps individuals to treat a series of psychological health problems. They work with diverse people and offer therapies for every specific situation, which may be associated with stress management, aging, disabled, parenting, substance abuse, etc.

Clinical psychology widely involves the assessment, diagnosis, and therapy of psychological disorders. Besides, there are several areas in the clinical psychology field.

-Health psychology: Health psychologists help patients who are suffering from mental stress, illness, worrisome beliefs, harmful behavior, through the biopsychosocial method.

-Neuropsychology: Neuropsychologists treat psychological behavior which is influenced by brain function, such as traumatic injury, learning disabilities, Parkinson's disease, etc.

-Geriatric psychology: Geriatric psychologists focus on mental, emotional and social health problems of elder people, especially for Alzheimer's or Parkinson's diseases.

-Child psychology: Child psychologists specialize in psychological treatments for young generations, which include anxiety, emotional abuse, developmental disorders, and learning disabilities and so on.

Step 2: Think before you do: whether is it worth to be a clinical psychologist

Before starting the learning or entering this field, ask yourself whether is it worth to be a clinical psychologist and what return you will get.

-Advantages: When you become a clinical psychologist, the first advantage you can enjoy is flexible work schedules. You can arrange your own schedule for work, it means plenty of free time is left for your personal activities. Then, the second one is your high salary and potential opportunity to work for yourself, as the demand for the psychologist is rising rapidly.

However, the most cheerful advantage must be the satisfaction of helping patients.

According to the forecast, approximately one-quarter of the people from all over the world will suffer from mental, emotional or neurologic diseases in some stages of their life. The one who intends to become a clinical psychologist may not only because of the increased need but also for the happiness of human beings. And when counselor treats with patients, the first goal will be helping them know there is always someone who could understand the pain they suffer and get rid of the mental issues someday to enjoy a normal life.

-Disadvantages: On the other hand, the disadvantage of being a clinical psychologist also needs to be considered. For instance, a clinical psychologist may be stressful or be affected by some patients; it is quite difficult to separate work and life. Furthermore, new challenges are constantly coming, in order to help your patient, doing research, making prescription can occupy all your time.

Step 3: Research Best colleges and universities for clinical psychologist

After graduating from high school, entering into university is a vital step. Here, we find some top colleges and universities globally for being a clinical psychologist.

Firstly, Stanford University takes the top one place in the 2020 raking. The department of psychology at Stanford University, whose graduates are seen as the most sought after, offering courses of cognitive psychology, neuroscience, affective science, and developmental psychology. Then, the remaining top 50 universities are shown as below:

1. Stanford University

2. University of Chicago

3. Harvard University

4. Yale University

5. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

6. University of California

7. University of British Columbia

8. New York University

9. Duke University

10. University of Amsterdam

11. Cornell University

12. Northwestern University

13. University of Washington

14. Columbia University

15. University of Minnesota

16. Carnegie Mellon University

17. University of Edinburgh

18. University of Toronto

19. University of Texas

20. University of Wisconsin-Madison

Step 4: Go through College

Someone may think about going to work without college experience, we have to say that it is impossible for the psychology field, you must pursue bachelor and master's degree or even Ph.D. is always necessary. Therefore, after finishing high school, you should select colleges/universities based on your own conditions and expectations, such as school reputations, tuition fees, major field, required credits, required language, accreditation, teaching environment, etc.

Then, students are exposed to a large area of studying in university, starting with the foundational courses. The knowledge of cognitive psychology, biological psychology, behavioral psychology, social psychology and so on is all necessary to acquire. These may be quite abstract at the beginning, but students have to build their solid foundation for practicing and treating patients in the real world and the whole comprehensive knowledge you absorb will help you to be an outstanding psychologist. Try your best to get good grades!

After several years or when you are doing a master's degree, considering the specialty is one of the most important steps, which may decide your career in the future. Keep studying and seek guides from professors who are working in the area you have chosen.

Step 5: Internship Opportunity

Under the premise of your degree, the most famous hospitals consider experience as a potential element among candidates. So you need to do some internship, which normally last six to eight months, before applying for the formal jobs or even before graduating. Additionally, when you apply for internships, remember to contemplate the psychological specialty you intend to do. For example, you should participate in the internships or programs in the neuropsychological department in a hospital, if becoming a neuropsychologist is your goal.

Step 6: Prepare relevant skills for a clinical psychologist

-Interpersonal skills: As clinical psychologists work with various patients, good interpersonal interaction, including communication mode, body language, and eye contact, could tie the relationships and build trust between you and your patients.

-Research skills: In this complicated field, all treatments need base on a great quantity of research. No one can meet every symptom from their patient. The ability of research provides a useful back-up to find an accurate direction of therapies.

-Critical thinking skills: The analysis of a patient's circumstances, plans of therapies have a chance to approach perfect, only if critical thinking is used.

-Self-reflection skills: If you are accustomed to rethinking your everyday life, you may have acquired a necessary quality of being the clinical psychologist. The thoughts and acts of a clinical psychologist will affect patients, especially when they feel lost in their world. To an extent, a psychologist can offer a proper guide to others only when he is able to do the objective evaluation of himself and bring enthusiasm and honesty in life.

Step 7: Find relevant clinical psychology jobs, and apply it.

Almost every university set career connect for graduates, not only introduce relevant job opportunities but also help them to prepare a resume and personal profile. As we mentioned before, you can apply to be a health psychologist, neuropsychologist, geriatric psychologist, child psychologist or other relevant clinical psychology positions.

Important Tools for a clinical psychologist

Psychological tests can be useful tools for clinical psychologists during the process of assessment. For example, there are three most used cognitive tests: Bender Visual-Motor Gestalt Test, Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, the Wide Range Achievement Test.

Other tools for clinical assessment or psychological studies include AAMD Adaptive Behavior Scale, Alcohol Use Inventory, Beck Anxiety Inventory, Child Behavior Checklist, Illinois Test id Psycholinguistic Abilities and so on.

Develop your career path

Getting a job is not the end, make sure you have fully considered the career and start to develop your career path.

When you think about a career path of being a clinical psychologist, you may notice information that the field of clinical psychology is developing by leaps and bound with a 20% growth rate between 2012 and 2020. Hence, you will meet various chances as long as you possess all the requirements. For the first one or two years after graduating, you spend time doing internships, in the meanwhile, prepare exams for relevant certifications, which are promoting your career path. Then, you have the choice to work in a psychological health center or hospital, after that, getting promoted through your efforts. Eventually, some of you may even open a private clinic after becoming a specialist.