This is an exciting time for clinical psychology. There is increased recognition of the benefits of psychotherapy and preventive measures for improving psychological well-being. Furthermore, the need for services may be growing. Many colleges and universities have increased counseling staffs as more students have sought psychological counseling; companies have instituted more onsite counseling resources for their employees as well. On the other hand, these increased services are often provided not by those with doctorates in clinical psychology, but by those with other training, including individuals with master’s level degrees. It is not clear, then, that increased use of mental health services will lead to increased opportunities for those clinical psychologists who hope to work primarily as psychotherapists.
What, then, are the unique contributions that can be made by clinical psychologists? Partly due to changes in health insurance, those engaged in providing therapy and preventive services may need to better demonstrate the effectiveness of these interventions. Clinical psychologists, with their in-depth training in causes and treatment of psychopathology combined with intensive training in research methods, are in an excellent position not only for directly providing services, but also for evaluating therapy outcomes. Those with clinical psychology PhDs are especially well prepared to conduct research designed to identify key components making some therapy approaches more effective than others, as well as for developing better approaches based on the latest research.
Clinical psychologists have provided, and will continue to provide, valuable knowledge and services. Gaining admission to clinical psychology graduate programs is difficult. Balancing competing demands as a clinical psychology graduate student can be difficult too. If you are considering a career in clinical psychology, you should investigate the possibilities thoroughly. Consult the online and print resources suggested in this document, think about other career paths and educational alternatives, and talk with academic advisors and others about your options. And then, if you still want to pursue this option, we encourage you to go ahead. There may be challenges along the way, but the rewards of being a clinical psychologist – whether in research, practice, teaching, or a combination – can be great as well.