Psychologists

September 23, 2011

Clinical psychologists perform multiple roles in the mental health care system. They work in hospitals, private offices, schools, and large outpatient mental health facilities. Psychologists receive advanced training in the assessment, diagnosis, and psychosocial treatment of mental health difficulties. To be a clinical psychologist, one must earn a PhD in clinical psychology or a related field. Typically, earning a PhD in clinical psychology takes 5-7 years of postundergraduate education. To practice as a psychologist, one must also document a certain number of hours of clinical work with patients, pass a nationally administered test, and subsequently be licensed by a state board. To maintain this license, psychologists in most states must continue to be educated about issues in the field, and must submit documentation of certain number of hours of such education on a regular basis.

Often psychologists are sought out for their expertise in talk therapy. Psychologists cannot generally prescribe medications, but can deliver evidence-based talk therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT in particular has been shown to be very helpful in treating a variety of disorders relevant to women, for example, posttraumatic stress disorder and depression, two mental health difficulties that are diagnosed more often in women than in men. Knowledge of assessment and diagnostic procedures is another area of strength for clinical psychologists. They are trained in the use of assessment tools and use assessment results to guide appropriate treatment. In regard to women’s health care, it is interesting that many psychologists are women.

SEE ALSO: Cognitive-behavioral therapy, Couples therapy, Psychoanalysis, Psychotherapy

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