Clinical psychologists help emotionally disturbed patients adjust to life and also help all kinds of medical and surgical patients to deal with their illnesses or injuries. Health psychologists promote good health through health maintenance counseling programs that are designed, for example, to help people stop smoking or lose weight. Neuropsychologists study the relation between the brain and behavior. They often work in stroke and head injury programs. The emergency and growth of these specialties reflects the increasing participation of psychologists in providing direct services to special patient populations.
Counseling psychologists advise people on how to deal with problems of everyday living – personal, social, educational, or vocational. Developmental psychologists study the patterns and causes of behavior change as people progress through life from infancy to adulthood. Professionals in behavior analysis use principles of learning to address behavioral needs of widely varying individuals in diverse settings. For example: building the skills and achievements of children in school settings or enhancing the development, abilities, and choices of children and adults with autism and other kinds of disabilities.
- Educational institutions
- Offices of mental health practitioners
- Physician offices
- Outpatient mental health centers
- Substance abuse centers
- Private and group practice
- Local and state government agencies
Employment of psychologists is expected to grow by 12 percent between 2008 and 2018, about average for all occupations. Employment will grow because of increased demand for psychological services in schools, healthcare facilities, consulting firms and private practice. Job prospects should be best for people who have a doctoral degree in an applied specialty, such as counseling or health, and those with a specialist or doctoral degree in school psychology.
- Ability to learn complex math, sciences, and theories and methods of psychology
- Strong verbal abilities to use in reading, writing, research, and speaking
- Good math skills to do research and testing
- Ability to work with a wide variety of people
- Ability to make decisions based on data, experience, and observation
- Ability to persuade people and handle a variety of activities
- Patience and objectivity
A doctoral degree is generally required for employment as a psychologist. Five to seven years of graduate work usually are required for a doctoral degree. Persons with a master’s degree in psychology can administer tests as psychological assistants. Under the supervision of doctoral level psychologists, they can conduct research in laboratories, conduct psychological evaluations, counsel patients, or perform administrative duties.
An applicant for a license to practice as a psychologist must have a doctorate degree from an accredited program of graduate study in professional psychology, complete two years of supervised professional experience, and pass the national standardized examination.
Programs in Nebraska
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Careers with similar responsibility and/or educational requirements:
- Social worker
- Primary care physician
- Radiation therapist
- Speech-language pathologist
For more information on a career in psychology:
- American Psychological Association
- Nebraska Psychological Association
- Heartland Association for Behavior Analysis
Career information adapted in part from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handook, 2010-2011 Edition, Psychologists, on the Internet at www.bls.gov