A clinical psychologist is an individual that specializes in assessment and treatments of mental health disorders.

Traditional routes to a profession in clinical psychology requires completion of a doctoral degree, which typically takes 5 to 6 years. In addition, clinical psychologists complete an additional year of internship prior to becoming an autonomous practitioner. That’s a lot of time.

Given the amount of commitment and dedication this profession requires, one question that comes to mind for many people is whether a profession in clinical psychology is worth it. This post goes through 6 reasons for why somebody might choose clinical psychology as their profession.

Clinical psychology is meaningful work

Being in the moment of therapeutic change and seeing the work you are doing with a patient have substantial change in their lives is an incredibly meaningful and life-affirming experience.

If the goal of life is to develop competence and use that to deliver value unto others, then a profession in clinical psychology will provide that in spades. In this field, you’ll be able to work with people who have experienced significant traumas, suffered from years of depression, and inhibited by stress and anxiety – and play an important role in alleviating this suffering. It’s an incredible process.

Beyond clinical work, there are many areas in which a clinical psychologist can conduct meaningful work – in their research, their teaching and mentorship of students, and consultations with other professionals.

There are many roles that a clinical psychologist can play

As alluded to above, one fantastic aspect of being a clinical psychologist is that they can play a number of different roles throughout their career and on a day to day.

Clinical psychologists can work in a combination of clinical work, research, teaching, supervision, consultation, and program evaluation/development. This varied and dynamic livelihood ensures that you never get bored of what you are doing – or if you are getting tired, you can always make a switch in the same profession!  

The demand for jobs is higher than the supply

You might be surprised that pretty much every graduate from a reputable clinical psychologist program gets hired. There are no shortage of jobs for clinical psychologists and it is unlikely for robots to take our jobs any time soon.

Therefore, a clinical psychologist has significant freedom in deciding their location of work (though you would have register in the specific College of Psychologists in the area you want to work) and specific schedule, especially in the case of private practice.

This demand is typically for more clinical-focused work; in cases where you want to do more research (e.g., academia), then the demand may be higher than the supply. In this case, you’ll want to emphasize your research

Clinical psychology provides a reasonable livelihood

While you’re probably not going to be a multi-millionaire and getting on private jet flights anytime soon, the pay-off is quite reasonable insofar that finances are likely not going to be an issue.

Hospital positions typically pay around low six figures, which can be supplemented or replaced by private practice (in which sessions can range between 200 to 300 dollars an hour). This is a fairly comfortable salary depending on costs of living and your desired quality of life.

The trade-off of course is the significant amount of time spent being poor in graduate school. Although the pay in graduate school can be reasonable, the fact of the matter is that your starting line is going to be a little later than folks who begin working right after undergrad. Pros and cons!

You can apply what you learned to your own life

Assuming you’re practicing what you preach, understanding how mental health problems develop and become maintained in vicious cycles can be the key to getting out of these traps. As a clinician, you’ll have expert insight into specific evidence-based strategies that are effective in treating your own challenges.

For example, embodied mindfulness is an important concept in psychology. Therefore, it is not uncommon that therapists have their own mindfulness practice, which can significantly improve various aspects of health and well-being.

You also (hopefully) do not consider seeking therapy as stigmatizing and may even look for your own therapy!

Clinical psychology is a respected profession

Although we like to make self-deprecating jokes that clinical psychologists are not real doctors (i.e., they receive a PhD, not MD), it’s a pretty shiny degree to have. And being an expert in the field of mental health, especially with all the societal problems that have been emerging, are looked relatively fondly upon others who understand how important this area is.

Hopefully this was helpful to sway you into thinking a little more about clinical psychology as a possible profession! If you’re interested, here’s a post on how to prepare for a career in clinical psychology!

Best wishes,