What is a Clinical Psychologist and How to Become One

By Nicolas Reynolds

“In 1736 I lost one of my sons, a fine boy of four years old, by the small-pox, taken in the common way,” wrote Benjamin Franklin. Fortunately, due to the miracle of modern medicine, a natural case of smallpox has not occurred in decades. Smallpox cannot be called “common” anymore.

As modern medicine advances, so does the well-being of others. This progress is only made possible by people – people committed to learning more so that others suffer less. Countless fields of science need committed individuals – experts devoted to treating today’s maladies and improving quality of life.

Today, our attention turns to the field of mental health – a field in need of trained professionals to adequately serve a growing need. A 2018 study conducted by the Cohen Veterans Network (CVN)stated that mental health services are insufficient even though 56 percent of U.S. citizens are seeking help. One of the greatest areas of need is that of clinical psychology.

WHAT IS A CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST?

Clinical psychology does not merely make a student a scholar – it prepares them to become capable and ready specialists who can care for those in need. In fact, clinical psychologists have a special interest in applying their knowledge and skills outside the research arena – often through private or hospital practice. They are both strategists and operatives – the hands-on-the-ground personnel seeking to reverse mental health crises.

Through assessment techniques and intervention methods, they seek to provide pro-active solutions for their patients. As applied scientists, clinical psychologists are trained to promote human growth and well-being. Considered “healthcare professionals” with hospital privileges, they are also able to take on the more severe mental health cases than professional counselors or social workers.

HOW TO BECOME A CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST

While clinical psychology does require a doctorate degree, the road to becoming a clinical psychologist does not look the same for everyone.

You may start by earning your undergraduate degree in psychology. This affords you early exposure to the field. It also helps ensure you have taken prerequisite courses that a higher degree will require. With a B.S. in Psychology in hand, a strong academic record, and high entrance-exam scores, you can apply to university or professional Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology programs that combine the master’s and doctoral requirements.

If you already have a bachelor’s degree in another field, consider earning the M.S. in Psychology, with a doctoral preparation track. This is a smart path to help you prepare to re-career.

Regardless of your passageway to entry, look for Psy.D. programs with a proven high match rate for fourth-year students seeking the practical internships needed to earn their degree.

WHAT’S NEXT

Are you considering a career in clinical psychology?Regent University offers programs to help you advance. Choose the B.S. in Psychology, available online and on campus; the M.S. in Psychology, available fully online with several concentrations to choose from, including doctoral preparation; or the on-campus Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology.Our Psy.D. program is APA-accredited and achieved a 100-percent internship match rate through the National Matching Service, 2019.

Regent University’s admissions counselors are ready to answer questions and help you work through financial aid so you can move ahead in this promising field. Whether you’re ready to take the leap, or simply want some more information, you can reach them at 800.373.5504. Learn more and apply today to the B.S. in Psychology,M.S. in PsychologyorPsy.D. in Clinical Psychology program.