What is Psychology?

What is Psychology? 
 
Psychology is the scientific study of people, the mind, and behaviour: how and why people think, feel, and act in the ways that they do.  
 
What is Clinical Psychology? 
 
Clinical psychology is an applied branch of general psychology that aims to understand and reduce psychological problems and distress and to enhance the promotion of psychological well-being for individual, groups, and in organisations.
The British Psychological Society (BPS) is the professional body responsible for the accreditation of the training of psychologists in Great Britain. All clinical psychologists will have begun their training by gaining the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership of The British Psychological Society by completing a Society accredited degree or conversion course. This means that most applied psychologists will have spent at least three years at university in the scientific study of general psychology to honours degree level (and a 1st or upper second class degree is normally a prerequisite for applied training). 

Then,  after a period of what is typically 2-3 years of post-graduate work experience (often as an assistant psychologist under the supervision of a qualified psychologist), a trainee clinical 
psychologist will go on to do a further 3 years of post-graduate training in the form of a British Psychological Society accredited Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (or its equivalent). 
 
This professional clinical training, in which time is divided between university study and hands-on supervised practice in National Health Service or other clinical settings, involves the application of the science of psychology to individuals and groups across the age range, including those who may be experiencing problems in the form of psychological disorders, mental illness, subjective emotional distress, or response to trauma; personality, family or other relationship difficulties; learning disabilities; the consequences of head injuries; or in adjusting to pain and physical illness.  
 
 

In order to use the title Clinical Psychologist, at the end of what will have probably been 8 or 9 years of basic training, he or she will need to register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).  However, many psychologists will not stop there, and will go on to undertake further post-qualification professional training in specific therapeutic modalities (e.g. Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, or Family Therapy).  

Clinical psychologists then draw upon the different theories they have studied in order to undertake a comprehensive assessment of their client’s situation. They may use a variety of methods in so doing, including face-to-face interviews, observations of behaviour, and psychometric tests (e.g. of personality, emotions, and cognitive functioning). Based upon this, the clinical psychologist will formulate an analysis or detailed explanation of the predisposing features that led to the situation under assessment, things that precipitated or triggered it happening, and what might be maintaining it. Based upon this formulation they will suggest a plan of how to affect lasting change for the better. Assessment may lead to advice, training, counselling or therapy.