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A clinical psychologist is a mental health professional with highly specialized training in the diagnosis and psychological treatment of mental, behavioral and emotional illnesses.

Clinical psychologists meet with clients to identify problems—emotional, mental, and behavioral—in their lives. Through observation, interviews, and tests, the psychologist will diagnose any existing or potential disorders. Then, together with the client, they formulate a program of treatment according to the client’s needs. Psychologists monitor the client’s progress on a regular basis to ensure that their needs are met by the course of action, and to adjust it if necessary.

Clinical psychologists work with people who are experiencing mental health problems, emotional difficulties, behavioural issues, or physical health problems that have a knock-on effect on mental wellbeing. They can also work with people who have learning disabilities. For example, they could help people who suffer from anxiety, have an addiction or an eating disorder, or suffer a lot of pain due to illness or injury.

The work involves assessing the nature of individuals’ difficulties, so as to understand them properly, and putting together appropriate treatment plans. Often they’re also involved in delivering these – for example, they might provide a ‘talking therapy’, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, which aims to uncover and challenge negative thought patterns that are contributing to a problem.Clinical psychologists differ from other types of psychologists in that they specialize in abnormal psychology.

A clinical psychologist's goal is to help their client identify their psychological, emotional, or behavioral issues, and then assist the client by defining goals and a plan of action to help them achieve personal, social, educational and vocational development.

Clinical psychologists use the most up-to-date version of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual), which is published by the American Psychological Association (APA) to guide and confirm their diagnosis, as well as their treatment plans.

Clinical psychologists must tailor their treatment plans to each individual patient, as different people have different problems, and respond best to different forms of therapy. Even two people with the same issue may respond very differently to treatment and recovery plans.

In order to develop valid and reliable ways to measure how well specific treatments and interventions are working, assessment research in clinical psychology is involved. Therefore, a large part of a clinical psychologist's job involves assessments and the development of valid and reliable tests.

Assessments can be done by interviewing individuals, looking at medical records, and conducting clinical observations. Testing can be done in the form of intelligence and achievement tests, vocational tests, or other tests designed to measure aptitude and skill levels.

By taking a such a comprehensive assessment approach, clinical psychologists are able to decide on the most effective and appropriate psychological treatments and interventions for their clients.


Psychotherapists help individuals who are experiencing emotional and psychological difficulties to understand their problems and make appropriate changes to their lives.sychotherapists work with clients who are affected by difficulties such as depression, phobias, stress, anxiety, emotional and relationship problems, physical or psychosomatic disorders and behavioural problems.Psychotherapists help people to overcome their emotional problems and cope with tough situations using a range of psychological treatments, such as hypnotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and psychodynamic therapy.

During group sessions and one-to-one meetings, psychotherapists help people with all kinds of difficulties, from substance abuse and domestic violence to post-traumatic stress and eating disorders.

As well as talking to people and helping them deal with their problems, psychotherapists are responsible for assessing service users’ needs and then creating an appropriate treatment plan for them, which will provide them with a structured and focused way of addressing their problems.Psychotherapists in this focus use a specific type of psychology in working with their patients. Psychotherapy is based on the teachings of Sigmund Freud, who believed the subconscious was responsible for much of human behavior, and that only by accessing it can we make social, emotional and mental headway. The basic idea is that because our social and emotional motivations are outside conscious thought, we have a harder time breaking out of bad patterns unless we learn to access them on the subconscious level. Typically psychoanalysts also need a doctoral degree, though they don’t require medical training.

People seek counselling to help them resolve emotional, psychological and relationship issues. Clients may be experiencing difficult and distressing events in their lives, such as bereavement, divorce, health problems or job concerns. Or they may have more general underlying feelings of anxiety or dissatisfaction with life.

Some clients feel isolated and have no one else to talk to, but even people with supportive family and friends can find it difficult to talk to loved ones about feeling anxious or depressed. They may find it easier to talk about personal, family or relationship issues with an independent professional therapist.

Counselling involves a series of formal sessions where the therapist and the client talk about the client’s issues and feelings. Even short-term therapy typically involves six to 12 sessions. The sessions take place at a regular, agreed time and in a ‘safe’ private place where the client and therapist will not be overheard or interrupted.

Therapy may involve talking about life events, feelings, emotions, relationships, ways of thinking and patterns of behaviour. The therapist will listen, encourage and empathise, but will also challenge to help the client to see their issues more clearly or from a different perspective.

Counselling is not about giving advice or opinions, nor is it a friendly chat with a friend. The therapist helps the client to understand themselves better and find their own solutions to resolve or cope with their situation.

There are many different ways of working with clients, usually referred to as 'theoretical approaches' or 'modalities'. These range from Freud's psychoanalysis to humanistic counselling, based on personal growth and self-development, or behavioural therapies used for specific phobias and anxieties.

Therapists usually train in one model of therapy - or modality -but may use different techniques where they think it would be helpful for a client. Or they may use specific approaches for specific issues.