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What is Clinical Psychology?

Clinical psychology is concerned with identifying and working with psychological difficulties and problems of childhood and adulthood. These can involve emotions, thinking, learning and behaviour as well as relational, social and sexual problems.

A psychologist practicing in the area of clinical psychology can provide diagnostic, therapeutic and counselling services to an individual, or to a family or a group sharing similar problems.

The word "clinical", used to describe the psychologist, does not mean that he or she works in a clinic (although they may do this). It means that he or she has skills to work directly to help people who have the type of problems mentioned above. "Clinical" distinguishes these psychologists from research psychologists, educational psychologists, organisational psychologists and so on.

Psychologists help people achieve changes in their lifestyle or habits that can significantly reduce or eliminate the influence of psychologically based problems- such as overcoming alcohol and drug addiction, controlling fears, alleviating depression, reducing anxiety and stress, overcoming feelings of low self-esteem and so on.

Psychologists sometimes work with people with physical problems such as persistent headaches and chronic pain, often in conjunction with medical treatment. Others will work with those held within the penal system (e.g. forensic psychologists).

Senior and Consultant psychologists also consult to those seeking psychological expertise for a wide range of issues, for example as an Expert Witness to the Court.

Psychologists are trained to apply a wide range of methods to assess their clients’ needs. This enables the psychologist to ensure the provision of an appropriate therapeutic approach and tailor the therapy to the individual needs of the client. At times the approach used by the psychologist will change as their client progresses through treatment (for example, less frequent sessions and more time for the client to reflect rather than being assisted by mostly therapist generated interpretations).

Psychologists have been in the forefront in developing new and better access to psychological treatment and treatment procedures. They have an ethical responsibility to continue their education and maintain their competence.

In the UK only psychologists registered with by the British Psychological Society can call themselves Chartered Clinical Psychologists. A Clinical Psychologist in an ongoing practice should also be registered with the Heath Professions Council who are responsible for monitoring and regulating practice standards. You can go to the web sites for each of these organisations to check if the psychologist you are seeing or wish to see is registered.

www.bps.org.uk  

www.hpc-uk.org

 
Dr Laydon-Walters is a member of the BPS
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Exeter
Devon
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