Psychology is the scientific study of how people think, feel and behave. Clinical Psychologists specialise in mental health. They do not prescribe medication but aim to help people to resolve their difficulties through evidence-based talking therapies. Clinical Psychologists base their practices on what is scientifically known about problems (such as depression and anxiety), to use psychological principles that have been well established in studies and to use treatment methods that have been shown to be effective. They use therapeutic approaches that are recommended treatments in the guidelines of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (www.nice.org.uk).
Clinical Psychologists generally undertake a three-year Undergraduate degree in Psychology, then typically work as an Assistant Psychologist or Research Psychologist for several years before completing a three-year Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. This training involves working with the lifespan of clients from children and adolescents, adults to older adults and can include specialist areas such as neuropsychology, addictions and health. It also involves extensive research training. Whereas some therapists are trained specifically in one type of therapy, Clinical Psychologists are trained to use a range of therapies in different settings. This means that Clinical Psychologists have a breadth and depth of knowledge and experience to ensure a full understanding of psychological difficulties and can use a tailored individual approach to each person. In addition to their original programme of studies, Clinical Psychologists are also required to undertake a career-long programme of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to keep up-to-date with the latest psychological theories and therapeutic approaches.
Clinical Psychologists are also expected to undertake supervision of their clinical practice, for the duration of their professional life, to ensure the highest standards of clinical care are provided to their clients.