Student Info & Guide

So You Wanna Be a Clinical Psychologist

by on May 6, 2015 | Top Stories

The job of a clinical psychologist

A clinical psychologist offers to help patients to improve their wellbeing through the use of psychological therapies and methods. Among the behavioural, emotional and mental health issues addressed by a clinical psychologist include depression, addiction, anxiety, learning disabilities, eating disorders and interpersonal problems.

Fashion Designer Usually a clinical psychologist provides services to a wide range of clients – individuals as well as families - from all age groups, races and socioeconomic backgrounds. However, some clinical psychologists may work with a particular group or community, depending on the setting of their workplace. For example, a clinical psychologist at a children’s hospital works specifically with children.

Upon meeting a client, a clinical psychologist will make an assessment through observation, interviews and psychometric tests. Having identified an existing or potential disorder – emotional, mental or behavioural -  he or she will work with the client to implement the appropriate treatment plans and strategies, to provide counselling, and to continue to monitor the client’s progress on a regular basis.

Other tasks of a clinical psychologist may include teaching and conducting research. A clinical psychologist can also provide consultation or write legal reports of psychological assessments to assist judges and legal specialists with a particular case.

Is this job for you?

If you enjoy learning about human behaviour and mental health, plus you have a strong desire to encourage people to make positive changes to their lives, you may wish to pursue a career in clinical psychology. Besides your passion to help others, you would do well if you possess the following interests.

The interest code for this career is ISA (Investigative, Social and Artistic).

  • Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
  • Social — Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.
  • Artistic — Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.

Work styles

Having the ability to relate to a range of people is a vital skill for practising clinical psychologists who meet clients. They have to be able to express concern for others by being understanding to their clients’ needs and feelings. While dealing with difficult situations, it is important for clinical psychologists to maintain their composure and to keep their emotions in check. They need to have good stress tolerance in order to handle highly stressful situations effectively. Their job also requires them to be reliable and dependable, as well as to maintain integrity and ethics at all times.

Work values

Clinical psychologists gain a sense of achievement when they are able to use their skills to help people improve their lives. As their job is to provide service to others, clinical psychologists value the importance of relationships. Other work values that are important to them include being able to work on their own and to make their own decisions.

Work environment

Generally, clinical psychologists are full-time workers with regular work hours. However, some who are employed in hospitals may have evening or weekend shifts. As for clinical psychologists who are self-employed, they can set their own work hours. Some of them work in the evenings and on weekends to accommodate their clients.

Not all clinical psychologists work alone with their patients. Those who work as part of a healthcare team would need to collaborate with medical doctors, nurses and social workers for the patients’ overall wellness.

As for clinical psychologists who carry out independent research, they are likely to work on their own.

Places of Employment

Clinical psychologists can seek employment in both public and private sectors of healthcare such as in hospitals and clinics. They are also employed in academic institutions, rehabilitation facilities and community health centres. Some may choose to work on their own – setting up their private practice.

Job Entry Requirement

To become a clinical psychologist in Malaysia, you would need to obtain a master’s degree in clinical psychology. Prior to that, you would need to complete a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

Currently in Malaysia, there is no regulation that requires licensure or certification to practise as a clinical psychologist. However, obtaining accreditation by a reputable board or professional body would assure your employer and client that you have met the required professional standards.

Education and Training Qualifications:

  1. Diploma in Psychology
  2. BA (Hons) Psychology
  3. BSc in Psychology
  4. BSc in Applied Psychology
  5. MSc in Psychology
  6. PhD in Psychology

Find out where you can pursue a degree in psychology and a masters or doctoral level in clinical psychology on our website.

Check out this video to know more about the career options for a clinical psychologist.

Watch this video which shows the job of a clinical psychologist at a children’s hospital.


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