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What’s the Difference Between a Clinical Psychologist and Psychologist?

Defining the difference between a clinical psychologist and a psychologist can be tricky.

Both, are trained in therapy;

both have a minimum of 6 years of psychology training with a practical component;

both can treat a wide range of mental health issues;

and, there is no difference in the standard of care they provide clients.

A common mistake people make is to assume a clinical psychologist is better than a psychologist.

In actual fact, what defines the quality of a psychologist is multi-faceted and whether they’re a clinical psychologist or psychologist does not really weigh in. A good psychologist will have experience in the area you’re seeking help for, will be able to build a strong relationship with you, will instil hope and motivation in you to make positive changes and will be conscientious in planning your treatment.

There may be no real advantage in seeing a clinical psychologist versus a psychologist. However, seeing a clinical psychologist does guarantee a few things. Namely, they definitely will have completed a postgraduate degree in Clinical Psychology. A clinical psychologist will also have completed a registrar program, which requires two years of post-study work experience with intense supervision and professional development (Note, a registrar program can also be completed in other areas of psychology, such as counselling psychology). A clinical psychologist also attracts approximately a $40 higher Medicare rebate. However, most practices set their fees accordingly, so the gap fee remains the same whether you see a psychologist or clinical psychologist.

So, what’s the main difference between a clinical psychologist and psychologist?

The key difference between a clinical psychologist and a psychologist is their postgraduate qualifications. A clinical psychologist will have studied a Master’s or Doctorate in Clinical Psychology; whereas a psychologist may have studied one of a number of varying postgraduate degrees, including: Professional Psychology, Educational and Developmental Psychology, Counselling, Neuropsychology, Health Psychology and Criminal Psychology. Occasionally, psychologists will have completed an internship after completing their undergraduate degree.

All of these degrees focus on different parts of psychology, which is mostly evident in their names. Clinical Psychology has a more intense focus on assessment and prepares graduates for work with psychiatric patients (as well as more general mental health problems). Whereas, for example, Educational and Developmental Psychology, focuses on child and adolescent mental health, early intervention and comprehensive cognitive and developmental assessments.

While different degrees focus on different areas of psychology, they only form one part of a psychologist’s competencies. Another big part of what influences a psychologist’s competency in particular areas of mental health is the focus of their work experience.

So, how do you find a good psychologist for you?

A good psychologist is best found by searching for someone who is:

  • Experienced in the area you’re seeking help for;
  • Kind and warm;
  • And able to reflect a deep understanding of your difficulties

For a full guide on how to find a good psychologist, read blog post How to Find a Good Psychologist in Melbourne.

How can Peaceful Mind Psychology help in finding a good psychologist for you?

We are a team of Hawthorn and Armadale psychologists with varying experience across different areas of mental health. All of our psychologists share some essential qualities: Our psychologists are warm, conscientious, and professional. We match all new clients to a psychologist who suits your needs and personality. As part of the matching process we sometimes consider whether postgraduate training in clinical psychology would benefit the individual, especially if a comprehensive assessment is required or in cases of significant complexity. We currently have a team of 20 psychologists, with 8 psychologists who are clinical psychologists and 6 who are completing their registrar program.

If you’d like to know more about seeing a psychologist for the first time, read blog post Seeking Psychology Help for the First Time, otherwise contact us today if you’re ready to book an appointment and be professionally matched.