What is a Clinical Psychologist and how does it differ from other psychologists?
This is a common question and actually a very important thing so as to know which professional to consult in which circumstance to get the appropriate support. There are 5 different professional registrations of psychology (HPCSA, 2018) and each have different training, which equips us for different environments, treatment/focus, clients, and scope of practice. The full scope of practice for the below registrations can be found at the link below which is according to Annexure amendment of 2011 (Health Professionals Act 56 of 1974): http://www.hpcsa.co.za/Uploads/editor/UserFiles/downloads/psych/sept_promulgated_scope_of_practice.pdf
Clinical Psychologists: They assess, clinically diagnose and provide treatment (in the form of psychotherapy) for more serious forms of psychopathology (but are not limited to this) psychiatric disorders and psychological conditions or problems, and primarily work in clinical settings or private practices; and they are also trained in psychometric testing. Psychologists do not and cannot typically prescribe medication.
Counselling Psychologists: They assist in “assessing, diagnosing, and intervening in clients dealing with life challenges, and developmental problems to optimise psychological wellbeing” (Government Gazette, 2011). A great article on the challenges in Counselling Psychology and the differentiation between clinical and counselling psychology can be found here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5113995/pdf/nihms791008.pdf
Research Psychologists: They do not to render services to the public, but to apply research methods and techniques in order to contribute to the knowledge base of the field. They can also do work that provides evidence for psychological treatment.
Industrial Psychologists: They apply the principles of psychology to issues related to the work environment of relatively well-adjusted adults in order to optimise individual, group and organisational well-being and effectiveness. They are typically trained within industrial psychology and business faculties at universities.
Educational Psychologists: They assess, diagnose and intervene in order to facilitate the psychological adjustment and development of children and adolescents within the contexts of family, school, social or peer groups and communities.
Is a psychologist like a psychiatrist?
Another common question is the difference between a psychologist and psychiatrist. A psychiatrist is not a psychologist and is rather a qualified medical doctor who has done further training to specialize in psychiatry. They then treat mental illness primarily with psychotropic medication and have training in psychotherapy but are not primarily trained as psychologists.