A clinical psychologist is a psychologist who is an expert in mental health. They have undertaken highly specialised APAC-accredited training in the assessment, diagnosis, formulation, and psychological treatment of mental health, behavioural, and emotional disorders across the lifespan.
The education and training of clinical psychologists takes eight years.
Clinical psychology is a science-based profession that integrates theory and clinical practice to understand, prevent, and relieve psychological problems or disorders whether they are mild, moderate, severe, chronic, or complex.
A clinical psychologist's training
Training in clinical psychology is at minimum an 8-year requirement. Students firstly undertake a 4-year Honours degree in psychology covering the scientific foundations of psychology. Students then progress to a 2-3 year accredited post-graduate degree, focussed on the assessment, treatment, and prevention of mental disorders. This study is then followed by a 1-2 year registrar program overseen by the Psychology Board of Australia. We know of no other health professional who undertakes this length and level of accredited training in psychological practice in mental health.
A clinical psychologist’s specialised training is recognised by the National Law
The additional training of clinical psychologists is recognised under the National Law.
Further, the general register of psychologists records when a clinical psychologist has undergone accredited post-graduate training to receive an Area of Practice Endorsement (AoPE). According to the Psychology Board of Australia an AoPE is a legal mechanism under the National Law which identifies practitioners who have an additional qualification and advanced supervised practice. The advanced, specialised training required for an AoPE occurs primarily within a 2-year Masters degree leading to registration in which the AoPE competencies are addressed.
The competencies required within the additional qualification and advanced supervised practice for clinical psychologists are outlined on the AHPRA website and within the Accreditation Standards for Psychology published by the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council.
Clinical psychologists have skills in the following areas:
Assessment & Diagnosis
Clinical psychologists are trained in the assessment and diagnosis of mental illnesses and psychological problems and are qualified to provide advice in clinical and compensation areas.
Clinical psychologists use a range of techniques and therapies to treat mental health disorders. They hold particular skills to solve complex clinical psychology problems requiring individually-tailored treatment.
Research, teaching and evaluation are all integral to being a clinical psychologist. Research is often conducted on prevention, diagnosis, assessment and treatment. Clinical psychologists are involved in the design and implementation of treatment strategies in various settings (such as primary care, psychiatric and rehabilitation) and in the subsequent evaluation of treatment outcomes.