Summary of occupation
Clinical psychologists are specialists in the assessment, treatment and diagnosis of psychological and mental health problems. They study human behaviour and how individuals and community groups think, feel and act. They use this knowledge to design and apply a wide range of mental health prevention and promotion programs.
They may help individuals to function better in relationships, the workplace, and in the community, or work with communities affected by cyclones or drought. They often work with general medical practitioners, psychiatrists and other health professionals to provide holistic treatment.
Consults with individuals and groups, assesses psychological disorders and administers programs of treatment. Registration or licensing is required.
A clinical psychologist needs:
- an interest in people and human behaviour
- good problem solving skills
- an inquisitive mind
- to be emotionally mature and have empathy for others
- to be patient, perceptive and have a supportive nature
- good oral and written communication skills.
Clinical psychologists may work for hospitals, in private practices, general medical practices, correctional facilities, community health clinics, and the Defence Forces.
Depending on the organisation they work for, a clinical psychologist may work business hours, or they may be required to do shift work, including weekends and public holidays, and their working times may be irregular. They may also be required to travel to visit clients.
On average, clinical psychologists can expect to earn between $1 731 and $2 212 per week ($90 000 and $115 000 a year), depending on the organisation they work for and their level of experience. As a clinical psychologist develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.
Clinical psychologists usually use office equipment to conduct and compile research, and update and record their interactions with clients. They also use a variety of psychological and psychometric testing to evaluate clients and assess their treatment progress. Clinical psychologists must maintain current knowledge of new theories and research, and will often subscribe to journals relevant to their specialisation in clinical psychology.
To become a clinical psychologist you usually need to complete a degree in psychology followed by postgraduate study in clinical psychology.
Most universities in Western Australia offer relevant undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.
To work as a clinical psychologist in Western Australia, you must be registered with the Psychology Board of Australia. You must complete a four year degree in psychology, and then complete postgraduate studies in clinical psychology to be eligible for full registration.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.
If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.
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If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.