Psychologists have extensive training that is different from that of other mental health professionals. Licensed psychologists are trained in the biological, cognitive, and social aspects of human behavior; in the history and method of psychological research; in the evaluation and treatment of mental health problems; and in professional issues affecting the practice of psychology, including relevant laws and ethics. Their training requirements include a doctorate in psychology, a one-year clinical internship, a one-year postdoctoral fellowship, and licensure in the state where they will practice. In addition to clinical training, research is a critical component of psychological training because research in psychology has led to the current knowledge of effective diagnostic tools and therapies. Furthermore, a thorough understanding of research methods allows psychologists to critically evaluate information.
Two of the main clinical services psychologists provide are evaluations and therapy. Psychologists evaluate clients’ mental health to clarify the problem or diagnose a disorder and provide recommendations regarding effective treatments. Some psychologists provide specialized evaluations that assess learning disabilities, ADHD, other psychiatric disorders, parenting, competency to stand trial, and other types of cognitive or emotional functioning. Forensic psychologists may serve as expert witnesses following an evaluation.
In therapy, psychologists collaborate with their clients to identify goals, examine thoughts, feelings, and behaviors more objectively, and use therapeutic techniques that help people cope with the problem while taking into account each person's unique values, goals, and circumstances. Therapy can be individual, focused on the couple or family, or in groups and may take place in outpatient settings or in hospitals.
In addition to providing evaluations and therapy, psychologists conduct research, teach in academic settings, help with crisis intervention, consult with organizations to help with productivity and job satisfaction, provide career/vocational counseling, collaborate with other types of healthcare providers, provide divorce mediation, and work with athletes and other performers to improve concentration and reduce anxiety.
In order to be called a Psychologist in California an individual must:
(1) Hold a doctoral degree. The degree may be a Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (Ph.D.), a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.), or a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.). On average, psychologists have more than seven years of training following their bachelor's degree, and 3,000 hours of supervised practice in psychology. A year of supervised post-doctoral psychological training must be completed before psychologists take their national licensing test and a state-administered exam.
(2) Be licensed by the California Board of Psychology. Once licensed, psychologists are required to fulfill a continuing education requirement established by the Board of Psychology in order to maintain an active license. The California Board of Psychology is responsible for the licensure of psychologists in our state. To verify the license of a specific psychologist, go to the Board of Psychology.