Can You Do Clinical Work With a PhD in Psychology?


Jane Flores

When it comes to pursuing a career in psychology, many individuals find themselves wondering if they can do clinical work with a PhD in psychology. While there are certainly opportunities for those with this level of education and expertise, the answer to this question is not always straightforward.

What is Clinical Psychology?

Before we delve into the specifics of what a PhD in psychology can do, it’s important to understand what exactly clinical psychology entails. Clinical psychology is a branch of psychology that focuses on diagnosing and treating mental illness, emotional disturbances, and behavioral disorders. Professionals in this field work directly with patients to develop treatment plans and provide counseling services.

What Can You Do With a PhD in Psychology?

If you have earned a PhD in psychology, there are several career paths available to you. While some may involve more research-oriented positions, there are certainly opportunities for clinical work as well.

One option is to become a licensed clinical psychologist. This process typically involves completing postdoctoral supervised experience and passing state licensing exams. As a licensed clinical psychologist, you would be able to provide therapy services directly to clients and diagnose mental health conditions.

Another path for those with a PhD in psychology is becoming a researcher or professor at an academic institution. In this role, you would conduct research studies on various topics related to psychology and teach courses to undergraduate or graduate students.


While having a PhD in psychology certainly opens up doors for meaningful careers in the field, there are some limitations when it comes to clinical work specifically. For example, some states have specific requirements for licensure that may require additional coursework or training beyond what is required for earning a doctoral degree.

Additionally, while having a PhD may qualify you for certain positions within clinical settings (such as supervisory roles), you may not be able to provide direct patient care without additional licensure or certification.


In conclusion, having a PhD in psychology can certainly lead to opportunities for clinical work. However, it’s important to research state-specific requirements and understand the limitations that may come with this level of education. Whether you choose to pursue licensure or a career in academia, a PhD in psychology can be a valuable asset in helping individuals and advancing the field of mental health.