Assessment, treatment, research

Assessment, treatment, research

MATTERS OF THE MIND  A typical work day as a counsellor involves assessment of the problem, determining the nature of the problem and arriving at a  treatment protocol. GETTY IMAGESMATTERS OF THE MIND  A typical work day as a counsellor involves assessment of the problem, determining the nature of the problem and arriving at a  treatment protocol. GETTY IMAGES

A study of the intellectual, emotional and behavioural aspects of human functioning, that’s what clinical psychology is about. The main areas of practice for a clinical psychologist are in hospitals and clinics. Professionals can also pursue teaching, research, marriage and family counselling, adolescent and paediatric psychology, and industrial and organisation psychology.

Getting started

Graduation in psychology from a reputed college is essential, followed by a post graduation in clinical psychology. A Master’s in clinical psychology in India is offered by NIMHANS, Bangalore, and the University of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram. Two-year MPhil programmes are available at the Central Institute of Psychiatry (CIP) in Ranchi (Jharkhand), the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) in Bangalore (Karnataka) and the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS) in New Delhi. You may follow that up with a PhD in Mental Health or Social Psychology.
Diploma courses and certificate courses in clinical psychology are offered by several institutes such as Jamia Millia Islamia (New Delhi) and a few regional centres of NCERT (National Council of Educational Research and Training).

Career roadmap

A clinical psychologist helps individuals  to cope with behavioural problems and issues such as anxiety or depression, serious and chronic mental illness, neurological disorders, addictive behaviour and childhood behavioural disorders, as well as personal and family relationships.

Dr Anand Rao, a practising psychologist at Bangalore’s Psycho Clinic and Research Centre, lists the specialisations as: “Psychologists are employed in four main areas — clinical work, counselling, organisational behaviour and health psychology.”

Clinical psychologists may find work in a variety of settings including individual practice,
mental health service units, managed healthcare organisations, hospitals, schools, universities, industries, counselling centres and military services.

The money is promising too. The average cost of a session with a client can be anywhere between Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 in individual practice. In an organisation, the entry-level salary is between Rs 10,000 and Rs 15,000.

 Clinical psychologists are trained in a variety of therapeutic techniques used to address issues  such as depression, addiction, substance abuse, suicidal tendencies, stress, problems with self-esteem and grief.

They also help with job and career concerns, educational decisions, issues related to mental and emotional health, and family, parenting, marital or other relationship problems.

“A typical day at work for me includes assessing my client’s problem and then determining the nature, cause and potential effects of the problem, followed by arriving at a way to solve the problem,” explains Dr Varsha Patkar, clinical psychologist and counsellor at Mumbai’s Patkar Clinic. Assessment of a client is carried out through interviews,  behavioural  tests   (IQ tests, aptitude tests, personality tests etc) and interpretation of results.

Develop your USP

Psychology brings theory and practice together. Due to the high level of research skills required, clinical psychologists undertake the role of a scientist/ practitioner who innovates and applies theories to real-life situations.

To carve a niche as a successful clinical psychologist, discipline and dedication as as important as a sound academic foundation.

“Good listening skills, patience, maturity and analytical skills are some of the qualities required to become a good clinical psychologist,” says Dr Varsha Patkar. “One should stay calm and composed, positive and conscientious. A degree in the humanities — history, sociology, art, literature or religion — is an advantage,” she adds.

Learning ground

“The study of the human brain is always interesting. It throws open new challenges to identify and treat mental disorders,” says  Veena Chakravarthy, a Mumbai-based psychologist and counsellor.

“It is gratifying to be able to make a difference to an individual’s life,” she adds.
The field also offers ample room for learning as every case has something new to offer in the form of new thinking patterns and behavioural patterns. And most of the learning is done on-the-job.

New horizons

There are several ongoing research projects in clinical psychology across the globe. Hospitals and universities  encourage research in this field.

Play therapy, child guidance and trauma therapy are fields with immense potential. Forensic science also requires the help of psychologists and neuropsychologists.

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