A career in Clinical Psychology

Psychology is one of those careers that you generally don't hear local students aiming at. My hypothesis here is that: ignorance plays a huge role in fuelling this lack of interest, in-fact I am willing to bet that most Zimbabweans have never met a practicing psychologist.

Add to all this the confusion in distinguishing between psychiatrists and psychologists and you have perplexed students walking away from any further digging! Psychiatrists are medical doctors and so their method of treatment is- you guessed it- medicines. So, if one is aiming at Psychiatry, they must first get an MD then afterwards take specialization in Psychiatry.

Psychologists on the other hand focus on treatment through psychotherapy which generally involves counselling, talk therapy and other methods that help a person overcome psychological disorders. Psychologists and Psychiatrists often work together.

We do however see a lot of psychologists in the movies, you will have probably noticed that some psychologists are found in schools whilst some are found in medical institutions. These two groups serve well to illustrate the difference between Clinical and Counselling Psychologist.

Clinical Psychologists tend to focus more on mental illnesses whilst Counselling Psychologists focuses on advisory services. These differences are not cast in stone and either group may in certain situations do work on both sides of the fence.

Clinical Psychologists are generally required to have a Master's degree or PhD in Psychology.

The following is a list of examples of conditions that a Clinical Psychologist might treat:

  • Addictions
  • Post traumatic stress
  • Phobias
  • Speech Disorders
  • Learning Disorders
  • Autism
  • Stress
  • Eating Disorders

If you are keen to see people overcoming social and behavioural problems so that they can achieve more in life, then this career line might be for you. In our society it is common to write people off as soon as we notice such problems, but such people can be helped. More work also needs to be done in terms of raising awareness of illnesses and disorders of the mind.

Imagine a Zimbabwe where all those kids that are usually thrown into "special class" get more professional attention so that they can receive appropriate tutoring. Learning at a slower pace or needing more aides to learning does not mean someone is a dummy, but recognising such differences in learning and making room for them will need professionals in this field who care and are willing to push the traditional boundaries!

In the next articles we will talk to Clinical Psychologists and find out what its all about in the field!

Author: Edmore Munedzimwe