Clinical psychologists diagnose, rehabilitate, and support individuals affected by mental, emotional, and behavioural disorders and problems as well as mental changes and pathogenic conditions through use of cognitive tools and appropriate intervention. They use clinical psychological resources on the basis of psychological science, its findings, theories, methods, and techniques for the investigation, interpretation, and prediction of human experience and behaviour.
The following job titles also refer to clinical psychologist:
practitioner of clinical psychology
expert in clinical psychology
specialist clinical psychologist
psychologist in hospital
clinical psychology practitioner
expert clinical psychologist
hospital psychology practitioner
Doctoral or equivalent level is generally required to work as clinical psychologist. However, this requirement may differ in some countries.
ISCO skill level
ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:
- the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
- the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
- the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.
Clinical psychologist is a Skill level 4 occupation.
Clinical psychologist career path
These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to clinical psychologist.
Long term prospects
These occupations require some skills and knowledge of clinical psychologist. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of clinical psychologist with a significant experience and/or extensive training.
Essential knowledge and skills
This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of clinical psychologist.
Clinical reports: The methods, assessment practices, credentials and opinions gathering procedures necessary for writing clinical reports.
Counselling methods: Counselling techniques used in different settings and with various groups and individuals, especially concerning methods of supervision and mediation in the counselling process.
Conditions for professional practice of clinical psychology: The institutional, legal and psychosocial conditions for professional practice of clinical psychology with the aim to apply them in the exercise of the psychological profession in health care.
Psychological diagnostics: The psychological diagnostics strategies, methods and techniques concerning health-related experiences and behaviours as well as mental disorders
Creation of clinical psychological opinions: The development of opinions based on specialised literature and evidence-based documentation in the field of clinical psychology.
Expert services in clinical psychology: Body of services provided in the clinical psychology field such as psychotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy.
Diagnosis of mental health issues: The diagnosis of mental health issues such as disorders or illnesses, and psychological factors in other diseases within different issues and different age groups.
Health care occupation-specific ethics: The moral standards and procedures, ethical questions and obligations specific to occupations in a health care setting such as respect for human dignity, self-determination, informed consent and patient confidentiality.
Consultation: The theories, methods and concepts related to consultation and communication with clients.
Neurology: Neurology is a medical specialty mentioned in the EU Directive 2005/36/EC.
Psychopharmacology: The awareness of various effects that medicines have on the patient or client’s behaviour, mood and thinking.
Drug interaction management: The managerial activities related to patient`s interaction with the medical treatment provided.
Multi-professional cooperation in health care: The way to behave during team meetings, visits and meetings in multi-professional cooperation especially with other health professionals.
History of patient’s psychotherapeutic problems: The records of the patient`s previous psychotherapeutic problems or disorders.
Emergency psychology: The methods used for coping with trauma or disasters.
Health psychology: The development, implementations and evaluation of health psychological concepts.
Clinical psychological treatment: Treatment methods and intervention strategies used in clinical psychology, such as the treatment of persons with mental illnesses and disorders in different settings, with different clinical symptoms and problems and with different age groups.
Crisis intervention: Coping strategies in crisis cases which allow individuals to overcome their problems or fears and avoid psychological distress and breakdown.
Therapy in health care: The principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions.
Evaluation of psychological performance: The characteristics of the methods used to assess psychological parameters.
Primary care: The regular, routine medical care provided to patients, usually performed by a physician or a nurse, that leads to a decision on the following course of action required to solve the health problem of the patient.
Psychological interventions: The characteristics of the methods and procedures meant to instigate change in human behaviour.
Psychology: The human behaviour and performance with individual differences in ability, personality, interests, learning, and motivation.
Methods of differential diagnosis: The procedures used to differentiate between conditions having similar symptoms.
Psychopathology: The criteria of psychiatric diagnoses, the use of the disease classification system, and the theories of psychopathology. The indicators of functional and organic disorders and the types of psychopharmacological medications.
Psychological treatment measures: The psychological treatment measures for persons of all ages and groups, with the aim of improving treatment skills and the provisions of trans-cultural and gender aspects.
Psychological healthcare services: The characteristics of the psychological healthcare services in the inpatient and outpatient sector.
First aid: The emergency treatment given to a sick or injured person in the case of circulatory and/or respiratory failure, unconsciousness, wounds, bleeding, shock or poisoning.
Psychiatry: Psychiatry is a medical specialty mentioned in the EU Directive 2005/36/EC.
Essential skills and competences
These skills are necessary for the role of clinical psychologist.
Respond to changing situations in health care: Cope with pressure and respond appropriately and in time to unexpected and rapidly changing situations in healthcare.
Educate on the prevention of illness: Offer evidence-based advice on how to avoid ill health, educate and advise individuals and their carers on how to prevent ill health and/or be able to advise how to improve their environment and health conditions. Provide advice on the identification of risks leading to ill health and help to increase the patients’ resilience by targeting prevention and early intervention strategies.
Inform policy makers on health-related challenges: Provide useful information related to health care professions to ensure policy decisions are made in the benefit of communities.
Employ cognitive behaviour treatment techniques: Employ cognitive behavioural treatment techniques for those whose treatment involves cognitive re-training, addressing dysfunctional emotions, maladaptive behaviours and cognitive processes and contents through a variety of systematic procedures.
Use clinical assessment techniques: Use clinical reasoning techniques and clinical judgement when applying a range of appropriate assessment techniques, such as mental status assessment, diagnosis, dynamic formulation, and potential treatment planning.
Manage psychotherapeutic relationships: Establish, manage and maintain the therapeutic relationship between psychotherapist and patient and client in a safe, respectful and effective way. Establish a working alliance and self-awareness in the relationship. Make sure the patient is aware that his/her interests are a priority and manage out-of-session contact.
Apply psychological intervention strategies: Use various intervention strategies to treat patients in clinical psychology.
Contribute to continuity of health care: Contribute to the delivery of coordinated and continuous healthcare.
Use e-health and mobile health technologies: Use mobile health technologies and e-health (online applications and services) in order to enhance the provided healthcare.
Conduct psychological research: Plan, supervise and undertake psychological research, writing papers to describe the research results.
Apply clinical psychological treatment: Apply clinical psychological treatment for people of all ages and groups based on clinical psychological assessment.
Empathise with the healthcare user: Understand the background of clients` and patients’ symptoms, difficulties and behaviour. Be empathetic about their issues; showing respect and reinforcing their autonomy, self-esteem and independence. Demonstrate a concern for their welfare and handle according to the personal boundaries, sensitivities, cultural differences and preferences of the client and patient in mind.
Provide clinical psychological assessment: Provide clinical psychological assessment in relation to health and health-related and health-conditioned behaviour and experience, as well as clinical disease patterns and their impact on the human experience and behaviour.
Record healthcare users’ progress related to treatment: Record the healthcare user’s progress in response to treatment by observing, listening and measuring outcomes.
Test for emotional patterns: Discern patterns in the emotions of individuals by using various tests in order to understand the causes of these emotions.
Provide a psychotherapeutic environment: Create and maintain a suitable environment for the psychotherapy to take place, making sure the space is safe, welcoming, consistent with the ethos of the psychotherapy, and meeting the needs of the patients as far as possible.
Provide testimony in court hearings: Provide testimony in court hearings regarding a variety of social matters and other events.
Formulate a case conceptualisation model for therapy: Compose an individualised treatment plan in collaboration with the individual, striving to match his or her needs, situation, and treatment goals to maximise the probability of therapeutic gain; considering any possible personal, social, and systemic barriers that might undermine treatment.
Respond to healthcare users’ extreme emotions: React accordingly when a healthcare user becomes hyper-manic, panicky, extremely distressed, agressive, violent, or suicidal, following appropriate training if working in contexts where patients go through extreme emotions regularly.
Manage healthcare users’ data: Keep accurate client records which also satisfy legal and professional standards and ethical obligations in order to facilitate client management, ensuring that all clients’ data (including verbal, written and electronic) are treated confidentially.
Deal with emergency care situations: Assess the signs and be well-prepared for a situation that poses an immediate threat to a person’s health, security, property or environment.
Provide clinical psychological support in crisis situations: Offer psychological support and emotional guidance to patients facing serious crises.
Help healthcare users to develop social perceptiveness: Provide strategies and support to healthcare users with social difficulties, helping them understand others` verbal and non-verbal behaviour and actions and guiding them in learning to interpret a combination people`s words, tone of voice, body language, gestures, and facial expressions; while developing better self-confidence in social situations.
Use psychotherapeutic interventions: Use psychotherapeutic interventions suited to the different stages of treatment.
Work with patterns of psychological behaviour: Work with the patterns of a patient or client’s psychological behaviour, which may be outside of their conscious awareness, such as non-verbal and pre-verbal patterns, clinical processes of defence mechanisms, resistances, transference and counter-transference.
Provide health education: Provide evidence based strategies to promote healthy living, disease prevention and management.
Conduct psychological assessement: Assess patient`s behaviour and needs via observation and tailored interviews, administering and interpreting psychometric and idiosyncratic assessments.
Follow clinical guidelines: Follow agreed protocols and guidelines in support of healthcare practice which are provided by healthcare institutions, professional associations, or authorities and also scientific organisations.
Diagnose mental disorders: Formulate a diagnosis for people with a variety of issues and mental disorders, ranging from short-term personal and emotional problems to severe, chronic mental conditions, recognising and critically evaluating any possible mental health issues.
Test for behavioural patterns: Discern patterns in the behaviour of individuals by using various tests in order to understand the causes of their behaviour.
Identify mental health issues: Recognise and critically evaluate any possible mental health/illness issues.
Handle patient trauma: Assess the competences, needs, and limitations of people affected by trauma, referring the patients to specialised trauma services where appropriate.
Advise on healthcare users’ informed consent: Ensure patients/clients are fully informed about the risks and benefits of proposed treatments so they can give informed consent, engaging patients/clients in the process of their care and treatment.
Evaluate clinical psychological measures: Evaluate the provided clinical psychological measures in order to assess their impact and their outcomes taking into account the patients` feedback.
Work on psychosomatic issues: Work with body and mind issues such as the spectrum of human sexuality and psychosomatic ailments.
Interpret psychological tests: Interpret psychological tests in order to obtain information on your patient`s intelligence, achievements, interests, and personality.
Comply with quality standards related to healthcare practice: Apply quality standards related to risk management, safety procedures, patients feedback, screening and medical devices in daily practice, as they are recognized by the national professional associations and authorities.
Comply with legislation related to health care: Comply with the regional and national legislation that is relevant to one`s work and apply it in practice.
Listen actively: Give attention to what other people say, patiently understand points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times; able to listen carefully the needs of customers, clients, passengers, service users or others, and provide solutions accordingly.
Apply health sciences: Apply a broad range of bio-medical, psycho-social, organisational, educational, and societal aspects of health, disease, and healthcare to improve healthcare services and to improve quality of life.
Adhere to organisational guidelines: Adhere to organisational or department specific standards and guidelines. Understand the motives of the organisation and the common agreements and act accordingly.
Counsel clients: Assist and guide clients to overcome their personal, social, or psychological issues.
Monitor therapeutic progress: Monitor therapeutic progress and modify treatment according to each patient’s condition.
Perform therapy sessions: Work in sessions with individuals or groups to deliver therapy in a controlled environment.
Work in a multicultural environment in health care: Interact, relate and communicate with individuals from a variety of different cultures, when working in a healthcare environment.
Provide psychological interventions to chronically ill persons: Provide psychological interventions to patients and their family members associated with chronic illnesses such as cancer and diabetes. Intervention and treatments may include management of pain, stress and other symptoms, anxiety reduction, and adjustment to illness or dementia.
Record the outcome of psychotherapy: Keep track of and record the process and results of the treatment used in the psychotherapy process.
Promote inclusion: Promote inclusion in health care and social services and respect diversity of beliefs, culture, values and preferences, keeping in mind the importance of equality and diversity issues.
Facilitate the psychological development of the healthcare user: Facilitate the process of self-discovery for the healthcare user, helping them to learn about their condition and become more aware of and in control of moods, feelings, thoughts, behaviour, and their origins. Help the healthcare user learn to manage problems and difficulties with greater resilience.
Provide clinical psychological counselling: Provide clinical psychological counselling in relation to health impairments, their conditions and the possibilities for change.
Promote mental health: Promote factors that enhance emotional well-being such as self-acceptance, personal growth, purpose in life, control of one`s environment, spirituality, self-direction and positive relationships.
Interact with healthcare users: Communicate with clients and their carer’s, with the patient’s permission, to keep them informed about the clients’ and patients’ progress and safeguarding confidentiality.
Organise relapse prevention: Help the patient or client identify and anticipate high risk situations or external and internal triggers. Support them in developing better coping strategies and back-up plans in case of future difficulties.
Ensure safety of healthcare users: Make sure that healthcare users are being treated professionally, effectively and safe from harm, adapting techniques and procedures according to the person’s needs, abilities or the prevailing conditions.
Apply organisational techniques: Employ a set of organisational techniques and procedures which facilitate the achievement of the goals set. Use these resources efficiently and sustainably, and show flexibility when required.
Develop a collaborative therapeutic relationship: Develop a mutually collaborative therapeutic relationship during treatment, fostering and gaining healthcare users’ trust and cooperation.
Apply context specific clinical competences: Apply professional and evidence based assessment, goal setting, delivery of intervention and evaluation of clients, taking into account the developmental and contextual history of the clients, within one`s own scope of practice.
Motivate patiens: Encourage the patient’s motivation to change and promote the belief that therapy can help, using techniques and treatment engagement procedures for this purpose.
Provide clinical psychological expert opinions: Provide clinical psychological expert opinions and reports regarding the performance, personality traits, behaviours and mental disorders.
Assess healthcare users’ risk for harm: Evaluate the healthcare user’s potential for harm to him- or herself or others, intervening effectively to minimise risk and implement prevention methods.
Refer healthcare users: Make referrals to other professionals, based on the healthcare user’s requirements and needs, especially when recognising that additional healthcare diagnostics or interventions are required.
Work in multidisciplinary health teams: Participate in the delivery of multidisciplinary health care, and understand the rules and competences of other healthcare related professions.
Provide strategies of differential diagnosis: Use various methods to identify the most approapriate diagnosis among conditions with similar symptoms.
Decide upon a psychotherapeutic approach: Make an informed choice about which type of psychotherapeutic intervention to apply when working with patients, according to their needs.
Accept own accountability: Accept accountability for one`s own professional activities and recognise the limits of one`s own scope of practice and competencies.
Promote psycho-social education: Explain mental health issues in simple and understandable ways, helping de-pathologise and de-stigmatise common mental health stereotypes and condemning prejudicial or discriminatory behaviours, systems, institutions, practices, and attitudes that are clearly separatist, abusive or harmful to people’s mental health or their social inclusion.
Optional knowledge and skills
This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of clinical psychologist. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
Psychosomatics: Interdisciplinary medical specialty addressing the connection between the social, psychological, and behavioral attitudes and their impact on human processes.
Optional skills and competences
These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of clinical psychologist. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
Apply hypno-psychotherapy: Hypnotise a patient to create subconscious change in the form of new responses, thoughts, attitudes, behaviours or feelings.
Ensure proper appointment administration: Set up a proper procedure to manage appointments, including policies related to cancellation and nonappearance.
Work with healthcare users under medication: Work with healthcare users who are using prescribed medications and other drugs.
Apply caseload management: Manage a number of patients within a given amount of time, striving to provide optimum health services.
Prescribe medication: Prescribe medications, when indicated, for therapeutic effectiveness, appropriate to the client`s needs and in accordance with evidence-based practice, national and practice protocols and within scope of practice.
Work on the effects of abuse: Work with individuals on the effects of abuse and trauma such as sexual, physical, psychological, cultural and neglect.
Provide treatment strategies for challenges to human health: Identify possible treatment protocols for the challenges to human health within a given community in cases such as infectious diseases of high consequences at the global level.
Employ foreign languages for health-related research: Use foreign languages for conducting and collaborating in health-related research.
Work with healthcare users’ social network: Get involved with the friends, families and other relevant actors important for the client or patient being treated, under the conditions of confidentiality and transparency.
Apply systemic therapy: Conduct therapy, not addressing people on a strictly individual level but as people in relationships, dealing with the interactions of groups and their interactive patterns and dynamics.
Employ foreign languages in care: Communicate in foreign languages with healthcare users, their carers, or services providers. Use foreign languages to faciliate patient care according to the needs of the patient.
Apply psychoanalysis: Conduct psychoanalysis on patients, focusing on unconscious forces that can have a negative effect on their psychological well-being.
ISCO group and title
2634 – Psychologists
- Clinical psychologist – ESCO