The human body is a fascinating expanse. Multitudes of varieties of bones, organs, vessels, nerves and joints all connected and working together to make up one single organism. Sometimes, some of these elements might dysfunction or falter which is where medical science comes in to do its part. Many of the prominent diseases plaguing the human race hold physical attributes, i.e., characteristics and traits that could be detected by machinery and tests created, designed and upgraded for the purpose of diagnosis. However, there are some problems that the human body undergoes that go unnoticed more often than not. These are diseases and disturbances that affect the mind, rising out of personal trauma, political scenario, cultural upbringing
With changes in the perception of mental illnesses or problems, the world of medical science has become more receptive in the field. Clinical psychology is one of the departments that are concerned with the detection of illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, ADHD, autism and such. Clinical psychology seeks to integrate the principles and techniques of science, theory and clinical knowledge. It aims to then use this combined knowledge base in the understanding, prevention, and treatment of psychologically-based distress and dysfunction. Another one of the department’s aims is to promote personal development and to spread the significance of self-care. The department was initially primarily concerned with the detection and diagnosis of such ailments. However, the horrors of World War 2 left back numerous victims of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This added to the need for an increased number of trained clinicians. This need is what eventually lead towards the progression of clinical psychology towards the treatment of the ailments it detected.
Branches of Psychology
While discussing the topic of clinical psychology, it becomes essential to distinguish it from other branches that either fall into the same gambit or other branches of psychology. These areas are:
- Psychiatry – While psychiatrists and clinical psychologists are considered quite similar, the difference lies in their outlook, their training methods and their techniques. Psychiatry depends its treatment largely on medication while clinical psychologists generally do not prescribe medicines.
- Counseling psychology – Counseling psychology and clinical psychology share many similarities with reference to their ideologies, methods, research and educational process. However, they differ significantly in the sense that counseling psychologists are usually employed in educational institutes to provide counseling services while clinical psychologists find employment in areas like hospitals. The frequency with which the two fields indulge in research of certain types also draws them apart.
- School psychology – Educational psychologists, as they’re referred to, indulge in psychological assessment and care of school children and adolescents. They’re responsible for the emotional, mental, social and academic well-being of the child. School psychology as an educational program focuses more on child behavior, education and overall holistic development of a youngster.
- Clinical social work – Social workers, along with their usual social activities, might also indulge in meting out psychological counseling, centered around societal issues that a person might feel owing to social conditions. This differs from clinical psychology owing to the difference of scope of the two disciplines.
- Occupational therapy – Occupational therapy indulges in concentrating and focusing on an individual’s skills, interests and capabilities in order to bring about treatment and rehabilitation of physical, mental, psychological and emotional injuries. Occupational therapists’ educational degrees consist of a special focus on the emotional, mental cognitive, psychological, sociocultural and environmental aspects of an injury or illness. They’re different from clinical psychologists in that that the latter studies about ailments of the mind on a general scale while occupational therapy consists of education specifically of injuries.
Degrees in Clinical Psychology
An educational degree isn’t enough for a student to be able to garner a profession in the department of clinical psychology. Barring academia, every profession that the department could feature in compulsorily requires an allotted period of training in a field related to the profession. Most admission calls require at least a three-year undergraduate degree in the subject. The study period ranges from 2-3 years in bachelors, 2 years of postgraduate programs, regulated amounts of training and a doctorate program. The United States of America primarily offers two programs at the doctorate level in the subject:
- Ph.D. – This program mostly focuses on research.
- Psy.D. – This sort of program primarily emphasizes practice in the field.
The United Kingdom offers students of psychology a Doctor of Clinical Psychology (D.Clin.Psych.) which encompasses both research and professional elements. Intakes into these programs consist of a small fraction of the applicants owing to the high number of applications for them. Hence, students apply over and over for a couple of times until they’re admitted into the program.
Study Clinical Psychology Abroad
Students from all over the world have built an interest in the department of clinical psychology and look to apply to the best universities for its programs. Indian students are not far behind. They want to go to foreign lands to pursue an education in this department for a multitude of reasons. Firstly, countries like the United States of America and the United Kingdom were among the earliest places wherein educational institutions offered formal education in the domain of clinical psychology. Over time, these institutes and their programs in clinical psychology have garnered worldwide fame and repute, further emboldening their status as student favorites. Secondly, these countries are replete with employment opportunities. The attraction of prosperous job markets works wonders in inciting students to apply for courses in international students. Thirdly, the diverse and multicultural environment on offer at a foreign educational institute helps make a student independent while the regular exchange of the varieties of cultures, opinions, perspectives, and thought-lines prove a tool to incite the student’s intellect
The best universities in the world offering psychology as an educational degree are:
- Harvard University, United States of America
- Stanford University, United States of America
- University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
- University of Oxford, United Kingdom
- University of California, Berkeley (UCB), United States of America
- Yale University, United States of America
- University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), United States of America
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States of America
- United College London (UCL), United States of America
- New York University (NYU), United States of America
Other than these primarily famous programs, universities like University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign, Duke University, University of Kansas and the University of Pennsylvania offer extremely reputed clinical psychological degrees.
Most of the aforementioned colleges follow a very cumbersome process of admission, consisting of Statement of Purpose (SoP), Letters of Recommendation (LoRs), entrance exams and/or entrance interviews. This process assesses the candidate’s interest and capability towards the course. A few colleges ask their applicants to submit financial records of the family along with the registrations so as to ensure that the family can pay the tuition fees and miscellaneous expenses over the course of the first year. However, this isn’t the case with every university as numerous educational institutions across the world offer scholarships and other types of financial aid to economically challenged students. In addition to this, multitudes of colleges permit their students to intern and do part-time jobs so as to be able to handle their expenses. It is important to be noted that pursuing a Masters’ education in the USA would require 16 (12+4) years of education which often poses a problem for Indian students who’ve completed their bachelors in 3 years or so. Foreign countries also require their international students to submit scores of tests like IELTS, GRE, TOEFL, GMAT, SATs, etc. in order to prove fluency in the English language.
Once completed, an education in the department of clinical psychology is of great aid in helping a student attain employment in various fields. Some of the areas where a degree in clinical psychology is particularly useful are:
- Clinical formulation
- Forensic Testimony
- Psychological assessment
- Program development and administration
An increase in the sector of managed care for mental health care has led to a boom in jobs for the profession. Health psychology is among the fastest growing areas in United states of America. These factors combine to make a degree in the department extremely useful and employable.
Any clinical psychology student who wishes to practice independently in countries like USA or Canada must complete at least three requirements:
- A graduation degree from an accredited university
- Proper completion of the period of training/internship
- Written or an oral exam (depending on the regulations in the state or province)
Practicing clinical psychology in United States of America or United Kingdom also requires practitioners to follow a code of professional ethics. While these codes differ between the two countries, they follow the same principles of respect, dignity, integrity, fidelity and responsibility. These codes are put in place to ensure the meting out of the best quality of services to people who might need them.
Hence, the field of clinical psychology, a field that has constantly been seeing growth for a long time, is set to only grow further, both educationally and professionally. Its popularity among students shall also remain consistently high.