What is the Difference Between a Clinical Psychologist and a School Psychologist?

Overview

School psychology delves into specialized areas with its core knowledge found rooted very much within psychology and education combined. All these findings are also in relation to the cultural contexts of those needing help within the learning process of the education system.

Clinical psychology expands to a wide area where the general practice requires some extensive research exercises. The education and practical training given will help to redefine the problems where abnormal behavior and mental disorders are prevalent and then adequate intervention and prevention action is extended to help achieve better existence.

The Working Environment and Functions

School Psychologist

As the title already clearly depicts, a school psychologist would typically work within a school or educational environment. Among the duties a school psychologist would be expected to take on would encompass areas such as assessing and developing educational plans and programs for individual students under their consultative care.

These psychologists can either perform their duties as employees of the school or as private practitioners who commit to a certain number of hours for consulting work at the schools, which engage their services.

The school psychologist is expected to take on responsibilities that include them having to deal with a variety of their young charges’ issues, which usually range from social interacting problems to peer pressure issues. They are also expected to help in situations where there is evidence of potential serious mental illness, by prescribing the relevant treatment course to be taken.

Related Reading: How to Become a School Psychologist

In some cases, the school psychologist will also work with the teaching staff, so that together everyone can work towards creating a better schooling experience for students. Working with individual teachers will also help to create a platform where students with problems can be better understood by the teachers they are in direct contact with.

With all the problems young students have to cope with today, both within the schooling system and from outside, home and social settings, a school psychologist plays a very important role. Whether it is in helping students cope with all the pressures they perceive to be pressing upon them or to simply be there as a good listener who is capable of offering unbiased and sound advice, the school psychologist is quickly becoming a necessary addition to any educational establishment.

School psychologists typically wear many different hats, such as that of a consultant, an administrator, a keeper of the general mental health wellbeing of students, behavior management advisors and many other less obvious functions.

Clinical Psychologist

In comparison, clinical psychology is more focused on making assessments and designing treatment styles for those who have already been diagnosed with mental illness. Within the sphere of mental illness diagnosis, the clinical psychologist would also be expected to deal with other medical challenges such as working with patients who suffer from abnormal behavioral patterns, those with learning difficulties and those who are in varying stages of psychiatric problems.

A lot more complex issues are dealt with at this level and clinical psychologists often use the science of psychology within their studies and observations before making treatment recommendations. Clinical psychologists tend to lean their focus towards delving into the complexities of the human psyche, where psychoanalytic suggestions are introduced.

There are a lot of observation exercises and lengthy sessions of exploring the patient’s past experiences and how various events affect the thinking process of the patient before any informed assessment is made.

Related Reading: How to Become a Clinical Psychologist

A clinical psychologist, by comparison, would deal with more severe cases and would be expected to design treatment options where hospitalization or even drug therapy may be introduced. Every treatment is highly individualized and very carefully planned to ensure no further pressure or damage is inflicted upon the patient.

The participative level of the clinical psychologist by comparison is also significantly more in the life of those within the program as commitments both mentally and physically are demanding. This is mainly because of the severity of the conditions being addressed.

A clinical psychologist can also be called upon to give assessments and testimonies within a legal setting, to help others understand a particular situation and the corresponding response displayed. This is becoming a popular and widely accepted method of assessing a particular individual’s role in criminal acts.

There are also some clinical psychologists who choose to dedicate their efforts towards conducting extensive research exercises for the better understanding of the human psyche. With data collected, clinical psychologists are able to come up with suggestions and recommendations that help others understand the connection between thoughts and corresponding reactions.

Teaching and working with other educators to create and recommend newer methods of tackling the problems stemming from mental illness is also another field both school psychologists and clinical psychologists often explore. Both professions desire to seek improvement in the quality of life for the people under their consultative care.

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