Clinical Psychologists

Last updated December 31, 2014

Have you ever heard the term "stream of consciousness"? We use it to describe words that flow nonstop, following a person's thoughts as they move freely from one topic to the next. The term was created by William James, who is considered one of the fathers of psychology.

With gentle guidance from skilled clinical psychologists, people can ride their stream of consciousness to surprising memories and insights. These memories and insights often play a key role in healing.

Clinical psychologists help people with mental or emotional problems adjust to life. Some help people cope with physical illnesses or injuries. Others help people facing crises such as divorce or the loss of a loved one.

Did You Know?

Clinical psychologists use a book called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), which lists all officially recognized mental illnesses.

Are You Ready To...?

  • Diagnose clients
  • Counsel individuals, families, and groups
  • Specialize in an area such as health psychology
  • Refer clients to psychiatrists for medication
  • Keep records
  • Keep up with the latest research
  • Attend conferences

It Helps To Be...

Able to combine academic learning with practical experience in order to learn about people's psychological challenges. Self-knowledge will help you gain insight into the struggles of others, and great listening skills will help you enter your clients' inner worlds.

Make High School Count

  • Sign up to be a peer counselor at your school.
  • Take psychology to learn about human emotions, behavior, and communication.
  • Keep a diary to explore your own thoughts and feelings.
  • Make the most of your math classes.
  • Consider getting a head start by taking a statistics class.
  • Become a keen observer of people's behavior and interactions. Try to do so without judgment -- easier said than done, but you'll get better at it with practice.

Did You Know?

Clinical psychologists make diagnoses: using the DSM-IV, they figure out which illness their clients have.