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Clinical Psychology: A 1

Running Head: Clinical Psychology

Clinical Psychology: A Specialization and Passion

Michelle R. Yarbrough
Clinical Psychology: A 2

Clinical Psychology is the second most prestigious of the Mental Health Profession,

second only to Psychiatry (Todd & Bohart, 2006). According to the Occupational Outlook

Handbook (2008-09) they make up the largest specialty in the field. Clinical Psychology is

defined as a mix of science and theory. A Clinical Psychologist uses their knowledge of

psychology to predict and treat mental disorders. This all hopefully leads to the ultimate goal,

alleviation of human suffering. They are often involved in a lot of research, but some prefer to

focus on patients or teaching. Diagnosis of mental illness is a big part of being a clinical

psychologist. This can be done through tests and through the use of the Diagnostic and Statistical

Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

Attending a graduate school is absolutely necessary to entering this field. It is important

that you stand out from the crowd with the surplus of people who graduate every year with a

degree in psychology. If you manage to achieve high enough in your undergraduate years and

wish to apply to a graduate school for Clinical Psychology aim for the best. The graduate

program in Clinical Psychology at the University of California at Berkley is the highest rated of

its kind according to The next best include the University of Washington, the

University of Virginia, Stony Brook University, and the University of Rochester. The program at

Berkley is a member of The Academy of Psychological Clinical Science. This means that it

“shares the common goal of producing and applying scientific knowledge to the assessment,

understanding and amelioration of human problems” (University of California-Berkley, 2007). It

is a difficult program to get into in the 2007-2008 term they received 280 applications and only

10 were accepted. What does it take to get in? Well the average undergraduate GPA was 3.75.

They also carefully consider test scores, your statement of purpose, research experience, and

letters of recommendation.
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Graduate school is only a part of what it takes to make it in this field. It all begins in

undergraduate school where you must achieve a B.S. or B.A. in psychology. Then you must

continue on to graduate school. There are two types of doctoral degrees that you can receive for

this specialization. In order to get a Ph. D. or doctor of Philosophy you must complete a yearlong

internship, plus three years of coursework, and finally you must complete a research dissertation.

A Psy. D. or doctor of psychology are offered exclusively at professional schools of psychology

and can be achieved after 4-6 years of coursework (Todd & Bohart,2006). After you have

completed roughly ten years of school work you still have one more step. All states require a

license to practice clinical psychology. This came about because Psychologists urged the

government to require a license in order to gain higher professional status. A license is issued

after the completion of a very difficult process. It takes a minimum of 2,000 hours of practice

during a two year period, a written exam, and a one hour oral exam. If you manage to make it

through this process you are now officially permitted to practice Clinical Psychology.

The advantage of being a Clinical Psychologist is flexibility. They work in many

different environments including but not limited to private practice, hospitals, schools, and the

military. This paper focuses on the hospital setting. In the hospital setting you would work with

individual patients of all ages and their families. One of the main groups you would be treating

would be people with Personality Disorders. The reason for this is although only 10-15% of

people have this disorder (Maier, Lichterman, Klinger, Huen,1992) they are most likely to use

mental health services. Thus there will be much higher rates of encounters. Some examples of

personality disorders include major depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and schizophrenia.

There are many important issues in the field of Clinical psychology today. This paper will

focus on Electroconvulsive-therapy (ECT). It is a very controversial issue that is coming back

into popularity. ECT has been used as a treatment or severe depression. It has been known to
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cause permanent amnesia and other forms of brain damage. 84 percent of patients in a recent

survey suffered adverse affects (Cambridge Evening News, 2006). There have also been reports

of deaths caused by ECT. There are many people both against and for this treatment. Some

people swear it works miracles and others say it does more harm than good. There is also a lot of

controversy on whether or not sufficient information is given to patients before receiving this

treatment. It is an issue that has been fought over for many years and likely will be fought over

for many more years to come.

This specialization is a passion to me because of issues in my family. My brother has

been suffering from bipolar disorder as long as I have been alive. He went through phases of

normalcy that lasted years and has now reached basically a point of no return. This was a result

of very poor medical care on the part of Cummins Mental Health. I want to prevent this pain for

other families. I feel that being a clinical psychologist will most allow me to work with patients

with severe mental disorders. My hope is to make the lives of those people and their families as

normal as they can possibly be. I also want to hopefully develop better methods of diagnosis.

The mental health community is struggling with fraud in the form of criminals trying to use

insanity or other mental disorders to get out of crimes. Also there is a lot of fraud from people

who wish to use a mental disorder to receive disability from the government. Although there are

people that use these privileges that deserve it there are many that do not need such treatment.

In learning more about this specialization I learned a lot about the field of psychology. I

learned about the importance of the patient in psychology. The whole point of psychology is to

alleviate human suffering. Mental Disorders are fairly common and cause often a large amount

of pain for those that have them and their families. Clinical Psychology focuses on the correct

diagnosis of each specific case and the treatment of the ailment. As a Clinical Psychologist you

are an expert in your field and you use your expertise to better the human race.
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Works Cited
U.S. Dpt.of Labor, (2008).
Psychologists. Retrieved August 20, 2008, from Occupational Outlook Handbook 2008-
09 Website:
Society of Clinical Psychology(2008)
About Clinical Psychology, Retrieved August 10,2008,
Ranking of Psychology, Clinical Graduate Programs, Retrieved August 11,2008,
Scott Plous(1996-2008)
Social Psychology Network, Retrieved August 11, 2008,
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Heffner, Chis (2003).
DSMV-IV. Retrieved August 20, 2008, from
Website:, (1995-2008).
ECT Effects. Retrieved August 20, 2008, from
Todd, J., & Bohart, A. (2006).
Foundations of Clinical and Counseling Psychology.
Long Grove IL: Waveland Press.
Meyer, R., & Weaver, C. (2007).
The Clinicians Handbook.
Long Grove IL: Waveland Press.