How to Become a Psychologist for Assessment and Treatment of Serious Mental Illness

The assessment and treatment of serious mental illness is a specialization within psychology that addresses patients who have mental illnesses. A psychologist trained to treat patients with mental illnesses collects information through observation and interviews, conducts individual and group therapy sessions, develops treatment plans, and works with physicians and other health care professionals to provide comprehensive care. They’re often employed at clinics, hospitals, community and mental health centers, colleges and universities, and government agencies.

What degree is required to become a psychologist for assessment and treatment of serious mental illness?

Professional psychologists typically need a doctoral degree plus some professional experience to be licensed by their state. A doctoral degree program in psychology typically features courses in clinical psychopharmacology, interventions, biopsychology, and cognitive and affective bases of behavior. There are several specializations offered that may be useful for this type of psychology, including clinical and counseling psychology.

Students can also enroll in graduate-level certification programs in a range of topics, such as neuropsychology or health psychology, that would train them in the assessment and treatment of mental illness. The American Psychological Association also offers a proficiency in Assessment and Treatment of Serious Mental Illness, which is designed to give professional psychologists the skills they need to help people with mental illnesses.

How long does it take to become a psychologist for assessment and treatment of serious mental illness?

A doctoral degree program in psychology may take as many as seven years to complete. These programs include classroom work and emphasize research and participation in clinical internships. Before a student graduates, he or she must complete a doctoral dissertation, which may include identifying a research problem, reviewing an existing piece of literature, outlining research methods, and discussing the findings of the research. The dissertation process concludes with an oral defense of the student’s findings.

What is a psychologist for assessment and treatment of serious mental illness’s salary?

Clinical, counseling, and school psychologists, a group that may include those specialized in treating serious mental illnesses, earned a median annual salary of $68,640 in May 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The top 10% of earners made more than $111,810, while the bottom 10% made less than $39,200. However, these statistics are no guarantee of actual salary, which is determined by such factors as location, employer, condition of the economy, and an applicant’s skills and credentials.