Who can be a Clinical Psychologist in India?

Clinical Psychologists are licensed practitioners who make a proper diagnosis by administering required assessments and evaluating a structured treatment plan. They work with individuals experiencing a range of difficulties and provide different therapeutic interventions ranging from group therapy, family therapy, couple therapy, individual therapy and so on.

ROLE OF CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGISTS

  • Provides diagnosis to clients and collaborates with psychiatrists for their medication.
  • Administers diagnostic tools and psychometric assessments to get a better understanding of the mental state of clients.
  • Provides psycho therapeutic treatment to clients struggling with mental health conditions.
  • Conduct different kinds of therapy such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Trauma Focused Therapy, Mindfulness-Based Therapy and so on, as required by their clients.
  • Provides training and supervision to other mental health professionals.
  • Aims at providing psycho-education and increasing social awareness about mental health through seminars and workshops.
  • Contributes in the field of research to help promote academic awareness about recent clinical studies and prospects.

EDUCATIONAL QUALIFICATIONS REQUIRED

  • Bachelor’s degree in psychology or other related field.
  • Master’s degree in psychology, clinical psychology or other related fields in psychology.
  • Internship under supervision of licensed professionals during Masters degree to gain real world practical knowledge.
  • MPhil degree in clinical psychology from any RCI registered institute to gain license to practice independently in India.

SCOPE OF PRACTICE

  • As clinical Psychologist in hospitals, NGOs, clinics, companies.
  • Private practice in chambers or online.
  • Career counselors in schools, colleges, universities.
  • Child psychologist in schools.
  • Vocational trainers in rehabilitation centers and working as a rehabilitation psychologist.
  • Juvenile counselors in correctional homes.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PSYCHOLOGIST AND CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST

Clinical PsychologistPsychologist
 They are MPhil qualified, licensed mental health practitioners. They are individuals who have studied mental health and have a degree of Masters in psychology and/or PhD.
 They can diagnose an individual with mental health conditions. They cannot provide diagnosis. If they find any possible diagnosis, they are supposed to refer their clients to clinical psychologists.
 They can provide therapy to their clients. They cannot provide therapy. However, can provide initial counseling to people struggling with their daily stressors.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST AND PSYCHIATRIST

Clinical PsychologistPsychiatrist
 They are MPhil qualified, licensed mental health practitioners. They are MBBS doctors with a specialization in Psychiatry.
 They can provide therapy to clients with clinically significant distress. They can prescribe medicines to clients with significant mental health distress.
 They focus more on the client’s mind, behavior and social contexts. They focus more on the client’s brain structure, brain function and physiology.

SKILLS REQUIRED

  • Empathy and strong listening skills
  • Presence of a non-judgmental approach
  • Strong communication skills
  • Ability to use empathetic words
  • Emotional availability for the clients
  • Strong knowledge about clinical psychology to make a proper diagnosis.
  • Ability to observe and interpret nonverbal cues

LIMITATIONS IN PRACTICE IN INDIA

  • In India, there is an increased need for medication which clinical psychologists cannot provide.
  • Mental health is still stigmatized in India, for which many people refuse to seek help.
  • India is a country with a diverse culture and languages. It may not be possible for the professional to understand all the languages spoken by every individual. This can stand as an obstacle while dealing with clients.
  • Limited resource materials for therapeutic intervention, as per Indian context.
  • The majority of the assessment tools are constructed in the Western context and is difficult to find an Indian version of every tool. Therefore, it becomes difficult for the professional to translate and make their clients understand in their local languages.

CHALLENGES FACED BY CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGISTS

  • Setting up one’s own private clinic is challenging as people do not reach out to clinical psychologists as readily as they do to psychiatrists and other physicians.
  • Working with clients, specially those who are terminally ill can be emotionally exhausting and often lead to burnout.
  • Dealing with certain clients can be challenging as they might possess certain hostile traits and that can get triggered at times. This can question the professional’s safety.
  • Professionals, when dealing with any case for a long period of time, or especially when the family members are associated closely with the case, they might get emotionally attached to their clients. This can affect the personal life of the professional too.
  • In the Indian setting, the need for medication overpowers the need for therapy. Therefore, psychiatrists sometimes have to take up the responsibility of providing therapy as well.

ETHICAL GUIDELINES

  • A professional can start their treatment only if the client gives consent to it. If the client is an adult, the professional cannot even interact with the informant until they give consent to it.
  • Whatever conversation takes place between the therapist and the patient should be kept confidential by the professional, except for when there is any serious risk associated.
  • The professional may reach out to the client’s informants, legal advocates or anyone who is associated with the case during certain Medico-legal cases for their own safety protocol.
  • The therapeutic interventions should be culturally sensitive, which means, the therapist should have a detailed knowledge about their patients’ culture and should be careful that their own biases against the culture do not interfere with their treatment.
  • The clinical psychologists must work for the patients’ benefits. Intention for their own profit should not be involved.
  • The clinical psychologist must make sure that their process of therapeutic intervention in not harming the patient in anyway. Risks should be minimized as much as possible.

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