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Many people seek psychology services and psychologists are among the most popular mental health professionals, particularly in the US. In fact, a full quarter of American adults use a psychologist or counselor to help them with their personal issues, according to the American Psychological Association. Psychologists have a wide variety of professional roles, including clinical psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, marriage counselors and psychologists. But there are other types of psychologists. And many psychologists will focus on one or two areas, while focusing less on other specializations.

Some specialize in one specific area, such as clinical psychologists. For example, clinical psychologists evaluate patients' mental health and treat them with various psychological treatments, such as therapy, counseling, behavioral analysis and medication. However, clinical psychologists only tend to treat patients for mild mental health disorders. And even though some specialize in researching and examining the causes of psychological disorders, like schizophrenia, clinical psychologists are not hands-on psychotherapists, that is, they do not provide treatments themselves. Instead, they often refer their clients to psychiatrists or therapists. Many psychiatrists and psychotherapists also have private practices, which give them an added level of expertise.

A clinical psychologist is a graduate-level psychologist that holds a doctorate degree or a PhD. And the typical length of a postgraduate degree program is three years, though some programs can be shorter. Most clinical psychologists begin their careers as therapists or counselors, who examine patients and attempt to treat their mental illnesses. Counselors often stay at the same clinic or facility for their entire career, but some choose to work in private offices or in hospitals.

The next type of psychologist is a master's degree holder, who completes a four-year graduate degree program. And again, the typical time to complete a graduate degree program is four years, though some opt to take longer to earn their graduate degree. A doctorate program usually takes about five years, with additional courses in administrative areas and research. Once a psychologist obtains his or her master's degree, he or she may choose to continue working as an assistant to a licensed therapist or to move into a different area of psychology. Some choose to become teachers, while others become investigators or perform independent studies.

For individuals looking to complete two years of graduate work or more in psychology, two years at a university are required. For those looking to get a doctoral degree, a master's degree is required in addition to a dissertation. The average time to complete a doctoral program is about three years, though it can be longer than that. Most clinical psychology doctors complete their master's degrees in one to three years. There are also online doctoral programs, which usually take about two years to complete.

The most important part of becoming a licensed practitioner is obtaining a doctorate degree from a reputable accredited university or institution. After that, the physician must pass the board exam given by each state. After passing the board exam, the psychologist will need to sit an oral or written qualifying exam to become a licensed clinical psychologist. To become a full member of the . . . . . . psychological society, a psychologist must continuously uphold the standards of his or her field. After all, in order to provide psychological help to others, a psychologist must first be qualified to do so.

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