Careers in Clinical and Counseling Psychology
Clinical and counseling chologists deal with the causes, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of individuals with psychological problems.
These problems vary considerably as to their degree of severity. Although very similar, clinical and counseling psychologists differ with respect to the disorders of the patients they treat. Typically, clinical psychologists treat more severe disorders, such as phobias, bipolar disorder, and schizo – phrenia. On the other hand, counseling psychologists work with patients suffering from everyday stresses, including career planning, academic performance, and marriage and family difficulties.
Clinical and counseling psychologists can be found working in individual practices, schools, colleges and universities, hospitals, and other mental health facilities. The particular method of therapy utilized by each clinical and counseling psychologist is often influenced by the theoretical orientation they adhere to. There are a total of over 200 theoretical orientations, each providing a different explanation behind the causes of psychological disorders and their appropriate treatments.
Some orientations are more popular than others; however, most psychologists integrate two or more into their therapy. Furthermore, some theoretical orientations are better at explaining and treating certain disorders more than others.
Regardless of their orientation preference, clinical and counseling psychologists are trained to assist a variety of individuals and their emotional difficulties. Clinical psychologists evaluate people in various settings, and give diagnostic tests. They may provide individual, family, or group psychotherapy, and design and implement behavior modification programs.
Some clinical psychologists collaborate with physicians and other specialists to develop and implement treatment and intervention programs with greater compliance results. Other clinical psychologists work in universities and medical schools, where they train graduate students in the delivery of mental health and behavioral medicine services. Some administer community mental health programs.
Areas of specialization within clinical psychology include health psychology, sports psychology, neuropsychology, and geropsy – chology.
Health psychologists promote good health through health maintenance counseling programs designed to help people achieve goals such as to stop smoking or lose weight. They also work with people on the psychological aspects of chronic illness and disability. Sports psychologists work with athletes on such factors as mental preparation, anxiety management and performance anxiety.
Neuropsychologists study the relation between the brain and behavior. They often work in stroke and head injury programs. Geropsychologists deal with the special problems faced by the elderly. The emergence and growth of these specialties reflects the increasing participation of psychologists in providing direct services to special patient populations.
Subfields within Clinical and Counseling Psychology :
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India ranks second in the world in terms of population. There needs to be a healthy ratio between doctors ( in each specialized field ) and patients, in order to ensure the good health of a country’s population.
However, today, the number of Clinical Psychologists in the country is abysmally low. The situation looks very grim if we compare the number of Clinical Psychologists in the country with that of the number of Psychiatrists in India. The ratio between Clinical Psychologists and Psychiatrists, in the country, is very poor at 1:10. Even the current output of registered Clinical Psychologists in India is as low as ten percent of the total need.
Psychotherapy can be and should be offered by trained Clinical Psychologists, according to the Rehabilitation Council of India ( RCI ). But due to the acute shortage of trained Clinical Psychologists in the country, even Psychologists and Psychiatrists offer counseling services. This is being done, despite the fact that Psychiatrists are trained to address mental health issues only from the physiological point of view.
Students, who have merely completed their Post graduation in Social Work or in Psychology, are also offering counseling services, even though they are not registered under the RCI. This presents a picture of an acute lack of trained Clinical Psychologists in India. It also points to the urgent need for trained and qualified Clinical Psychologists. The Mental Health Authority ( MHA ) was set up by the Government of India, in the wake of the fire tragedy at a psychiatric nursing home in Erwadi ( Tamil Nadu ), in which many mentally ill patients were burnt to death.
The task of issuing licenses to psychiatric nursing homes and such establishments was entrusted to the MHA. The presence of at least one registered Clinical Psychologist on the premises of any such establishment was recommended by the MHA. The RCI issues a registration number to every Clinical Psychologist which has to be renewed after every 7 Years.
Career & Job Opportunities :
Eligibility for Clinical and Counseling Psychology :
The successful completion of an M.A. or M.Sc. Degree in Psychology with a minimum of 55 percent marks in aggregate is the minimum eligibility criteria for pursuing an M. Phil Degree in Clinical Psychology.
It is preferable to have a special paper in Clinical Psychology at the Master’s Degree level. The aggregate percentage marks are relaxable by five percent for the students belonging to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes.
2 Years of practical experience in offering counseling services is also an eligibility criteria at several institutes.
Careers in Clinical and Counseling Psychology Aptitude :
One needs to be kind and compassionate in nature in order to be a good Clinical Psychologist since this profession entails the practitioners to understand and solve the problems of people through counseling.
One should have a good understanding of the workings of the human mind and should also have a natural propensity to unravel the deepest mysteries of the human mind.
It is a difficult task to deal with patients exhibiting abnormal mental behaviour; hence a lot of patience is required on the part of a counselor.
In the profession of Clinical Psychology, a counselor picks up a lot of negative thoughts and emotions from the patients. Hence, one should have the ability of ventilating all the negativity picked up during counseling.
Moreover, one should also have strong skills of persuasion in order to help patients break their mental blocks. Effective communication skills are also required, since one has to uncover the innermost workings of the patients mental processes by talking with them.
Clinical and Counseling Psychology Programs :
Various courses in Clinical Psychology are offered by universities and institutes across the country. One can go in for an M. Phil. Program of 2 Years duration.
2 Year M. Phil Programs are available at the Central Institute of Psychiatry ( CIP ) in Ranchi ( Jharkhand ), the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences ( NIMHANS ) in Bangalore ( Karnataka ) and at the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences ( IHBAS ) in New Delhi. The IHBAS inducts 12 students into its M. Phil. Program every Year.
Each of the above – mentioned institutes conducts independent, all – India level entrance examinations for candidates wishing to get admission into M. Phil Programs at these institutes.
The candidates who qualify in the written examination also have to clear an interview in order to get admission. Diploma courses and Certificate courses in Clinical Psychology are also offered by several institutes across the country.
The Jamia Millia Islamia ( New Delhi ) and a few regional centers of the NCERT ( National Council of Educational Research and Training ) offer Diploma courses in Clinical Psychology. The RCI recommends a practice – oriented curriculum for students pursuing any course ( Degree, Diploma or Certificate ) in Clinical Psychology.
The RCI recommends an OPD ( Out Patient Department ) in every institute offering a course in Clinical Psychology. It also recommends the restriction of theory – related teaching to only 30 percent of the syllabus while laying more stress on practical learning.
Careers in Clinical and Counseling Psychology Prospects :
One who has done a course in Clinical Psychology will be able to find jobs in the government sector. One will also be able to find jobs in the licensed psychiatric nursing homes. Clinical Psychologists are also required in the non – governmental organizations ( NGOs ) who are engaged in offering counseling services.
One can also find a job as a full – time career counselor in a school, since the Central Board of Secondary Education ( CBSE ) has directed for the appointment of at least one full – time career counselor in each and every school under its affiliation. One can also specialize in marital counseling if one has obtained a professional degree in Clinical Psychology. Moreover, the prospects of earning name and fame are quite bright if one sets up a clinic and starts counseling independently.
A lot of opportunities are also open for students of Clinical Psychology in the UK, the US, Australia and Singapore. The profession of Clinical Psychology is in a very young stage in India but is set to expand more in the near future. Together with it, the career scope of students, who do a course in Clinical Psychology today, will also expand in the near future.
List of Colleges offering the Clinical and Counseling Psychology Courses :