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Tuesday, October 27, 5: Information on Clinical Psychology Dear Dr. Mike I am currently a student rat the university of North Carolina at Wilmington and I am doing a research paper on clinical psychology and was wonder if you could answer some questions for me about the filed of clinical psychology. I just need some basic info as to how you got into the career that you are currently in and what is required of a clinical psychologist. If it was not too much trouble could you please just send me some basic info on your field and some personal info as to why you chose this career. Any help you can give me will be greatly appreciated. Sincerely, Hi Cameron, OK, here's a quick perspective. I'm not sure if I'm helping with you here with a term paper or graduate school decision here, but here's a brief overview. Clinical psychology has evolved as a specialty within psychology, which is very broad and basically covers the science of behavior and human mental experience. Psychology spans a broad number of areas, ranging from child development thinking, language, etc. Clinical psychology has become identified with the study, in clinical settings laboratories and therapy sessions of the individual human being, in all it's psychological manifestations-- intelligence, thinking cognition and perception , socializing, and communicating, and a few other biggies in the area of clinical psychology. In most states, "clinical psychologists" are licensed, at the doctoral level Ph. There are relatively few clinical psychologists, among all the varieties of people you'll find who are working as "psychologists". Some have licenses or certificates which are for work in "exempt" settings like schools and government agencies, where they work only under supervision rather than independently. In the old days pre's , clinical psychologists, some of whom also studied psychoanalysis along with some psychiatrists , often enjoyed thriving practices with individuals and groups. Patients were covered for much of the cost by insurance companies, and research showed that providing mental health services was a cost-effective way to keep employees healthy, productive and happy. Lately, however, much has changed since health care has become "managed" by insurance companies, rather than left up to the doctors and therapists. OK, are you writing my biography? Actually, you're helping me in return for my taking the time with this letter to you. I get asked "why" I got into psychology often, so unless you object, I'd like to post my response to you on my "Questions and Answers" page You ask some important questions, so I'm trying to give you a thoughtful response. I just didn't know what it was. Everything about people fascinates me. The way we talk, and walk, and express our feelings, and our ideas, to name a few things which are worthy of real reflection, for me at least. In junior high and high school, right after they invented the telephone, that's a joke! They must've known something I didn't know. I guess I like to listen to people's stories. And people like to be heard. In high school I worried about normal high school stuff, dating, hanging out, being a rock star, things like that. I went to college not really knowing what I'd be doing in 10 years, only where I'd be living for 4. But I sampled all kinds of courses my first year at a good liberal arts college, studying music and philosophy and psychology, mostly. In a humongous lecture hall, as we sat back in our seats the first of 3 professors taking turns teaching this class walked in front of the stage and to the lecturn. He calmly said "CS" and shot off a gun into the air. A minute later he did it again, and again we jumped. Finally he paused a moment and calmly said again "CS". We all cringed but this time he didn't fire the gun. He explained that we'd just been the subject of Pavlovian conditioning. The next professor did a crazy "turkey dance" onstage, and spoke about "species-specific responses". He'd been communicating a mating ritual, so it seems. The third professor talked about about mental processes, mental illness, and the history of psychological testing and psychotherapy. It's not easy getting into Ph. I worked first as a volunteer, and then in a community for schizophrenics, where I was called a "social worker" and I ran a newspaper which was reported by, typed, and distributed by "de-institutionalized mental patients". I taught them how to work in corporate settings, and I produced music and photography in my spare time. I dimly remember spare time. And then finally, I was ready. I applied to a dozen or so programs and was lucky enough to have been accepted to several. In graduate school I focused on my continuing interests in psychotherapy, language, thinking, and interpersonal relationships. And my friends still refer to me as "my shrink". I followed my heart and my instincts. I'd advise the same for you, be it clinical psychology, social work, art, or music or medicine Do what you feel you're good at, or try out various things until one clicks. Sometimes it comes early, sometimes it takes a while. I had great experiences in psychology which didn't come until graduate school and internship. And I learn more all the time. One other quick suggestion: There are many aspects of clinical psychology reflected across my web pages, but one in particular may be useful to your pursuit. The American Psychological Association has a great page about careers in psychology, and if your motivation lies in making a personal decision about clinical psychology versus another type of psychology rather than psychologist versus NBA star, preacher or lawyer It's grown very dense and sometimes the pages disappear, but here's a good start, at the APA site beginning with their description of the many divisions and programs within the field of psychology: Divisions of APA Good luck! I hope this answered your query and is useful. Here is my current short-version: Clinical psychology is a fairly well known entity in the US, but can be completely different relative to other specialty areas in Europe and elsewhere. Great for therapy, research or teaching, but a long road. I hear a great interest lately in 'cyberpsychology', and this seems to be on the way towards being a focus area but as yet is not widely offered as a specialty area of study. My latest advice continues to be: I generally suggest, after narrowing one's interests and goals to match the landscape of what's available, supplement the guides by speaking with faculty and students from specific programs. To begin with, one can get a list of schools with APA-accredited programs especially important for clinical psychology and on the graduate level peruse the APA Guide to Graduate Study in Psychology. There are also, of course, lots of 'insiders guides' to campus life and so on. While there is great interest lately in online education, some programs and experiences are still most powerful f2f - with classroom instruction, lab work, and practicum experience with f2f supervision all part of the training. There are some risks too, as many people are finding out, of doing online degree work only to learn that one's state of residence does not accept a given school's accreditation. Know these things in advance! Finally, there is a new online resource worth mentioning. The guide was suggested to me as an 'online psychology degrees guide' - and there are many to be found already which offer pages promoting sometimes marginal online programs, and full of ads. This site is different. Here you can find real psychology degree programs within colleges and universities mostly on RL campuses. I quickly found several psychology programs I'm familiar with, as their easy-to-navigate web guide delivered useful information presented in a cohesive, well-organized way. Things like accreditation and program descriptions make this a useful tool for surveying psychology programs. I've heard about it several times now recently [Tnx, Makalyn! Psychology Degrees Guide [ www. My response, in turn, is also a bit complex, and assumes that the reader has some familiarity with ethical, legal, and practice issues. This particular grad student wrote back that " after reading your email I felt like I have just taken an 'Ethical Issues in Online Counseling' class from you". I'd be happy to identify the grad student by name, if she gives permission. The questions I addressed follow. Anyone doing research on the topic of Online Therapy might look to some of the source materials presented on my Online Therapy page at http: As a practitioner, what do you regard as the biggest challenge in internet counseling? How would you deal with a client who expresses intent to suicide in his or her email? What are the steps an on-line counselor could do to resolve this issue? As a licensed Psychologist in New York State, what is your take on the regulation that only licensed Psychologist of California could provide internet psychological services to residents of California? Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving. Thanks for the nice comments on my site, btw, and hope you've rummaged through some of the basic source material I compiled on my main site, or at http: But I'll stick to answering your questions for now! That's not so simple to answer, for a multitude of reasons, including that most of my work is still primarily f2f, as is most "counseling" or "therapy" nationwide and worldwide. In general, most practitioners but not all regard the greatest limitation of pure online work to be the lack of visual cues, in particular. I mention a Harvard study about email vs. In essence, I see the biggest single challenge as the ability to become "in sync", therapist and client. Your predecessor at Columbia-TC, Carl Rogers, did some of the earliest basic research with Truax on the main ingredients of effective counseling, and came up with "warmth, empathy, and genuiness", often collectively termed "the nonspecific factors" of psychotherapy. Some argue that the use of e-mail is liberating, allowing for spontaneity and disinhibition, as the counselor doesn't see the client physically, and is less likely to be perceived as critical. Not every f2f counselor, apparently, practices "unconditional positive regard"! It is said that email communication also fosters "time compression" where people get right to the heart of the matter without shame or self-consciousness as it feels like writing a diary, and feels "safe".
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