The term clinical psychology was first used in the beginning of the 20th century and was placed alongside medicine, education and sociology. From this perspective, the clinical psychologist’s work involves aspects of education, treatment and interpersonal issues. At present, defining clinical psychology is a great challenge because this area has witnessed significant increases in a wide variety of directions. As a group, contemporary psychologists accomplish many different things, considering different goals for various people.
The field of clinical psychology integrates science, practice and theory to understand, anticipate and improve discomfort and disability, and promote adaptation and personal development. Clinical psychology focuses on the intellectual, emotional, biological, psychological, social and behavioral aspects of lifelong human functioning at all socioeconomic levels and in different cultures. Clinical psychology involves thorough research and practice to understand and improve the many psychological aspects of human experience, including but not limited to problems of intellect, emotion or behavior.
How does the psychologist differ from the psychological counselor?
First, a psychologist differs from a counselor in terms of the characteristics of the clients with whom they work with. Psychologists generally treat individuals with pathological problems while counselors work and “advise” less disturbed clients to optimize their self-knowledge and personal development and/ or to promote healthy habits, to prevent and resolve emotional, cognitive and behavioral problems. However, these two areas have many similarities, both psychologists and psychological counselors being licensed in psychology.
Compared to counselors, psychologists treat a more severely disturbed population, and accordingly tend to work in hospitals, psychiatric wards, clinics and individual clinics. On the other hand, psychological counselors work rather in counseling centers. Also, there may be some differences in their theoretical orientation: both areas approach an eclectic orientation, but psychologists are rather behaviorist, while counselors opt for a humanist approach, centered on the client.
Aspects related to the current clinical counselor job market
These days, insurance companies must cover mental health treatment, therefore therapy services have become increasingly accessible and also less stigmatized. Policies currently protect much more people than before and there are new centers and clinical mental health counseling positions created all over the country. Statistics show that the states with the highest employment levels of counselors include California, Virginia and New York.
To become a licensed clinical counselor or to obtain one of the social work jobs Denver area, one must get a master’s degree and state license; voluntary certifications are also important, such as Master Addictions Counselor, Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor or the National Certified Counselor.
The clinical counselor job market is quite competitive these days, with the number of clinical mental health specialists expected to grow in the next decade, with about 20%. It is also estimated that 25% of these positions will be created in family and individual services.
Licensed clinical counselors typically work in outpatient mental health centers, but some work in hospitals (public or private), addiction centers, residential behavioral facilities, college campuses and even government-run health offices. Some of them also start their own private practices, gathering their own client base. Clinical counseling jobs are full-time and often include weekends, to fit clients’ schedules.