Is Applied Psychology Same as Clinical Psychology?


Vincent White

Applied psychology and clinical psychology are two branches of psychology that are often used interchangeably. However, they are not the same. There are significant differences between the two fields.

What is Applied Psychology?

Applied psychology is a field where psychological principles and theories are applied to real-world situations. This field aims to solve practical problems and improve people’s lives by using psychological knowledge. Applied psychologists work in various settings such as businesses, schools, government agencies, or non-profit organizations.

Some common areas of applied psychology include:

  • Industrial-organizational psychology: focuses on improving workplace productivity and employee well-being
  • Educational psychology: focuses on improving learning outcomes in educational settings
  • Forensic psychology: applies psychological principles to legal matters such as criminal investigations and court cases

What is Clinical Psychology?

Clinical psychology is a branch of psychology that deals with mental health disorders and emotional issues. Clinical psychologists assess, diagnose, and treat individuals with psychological problems. They work in various settings such as hospitals, clinics, private practices, or rehabilitation centers.

Clinical psychologists use evidence-based treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, or interpersonal therapy to help individuals overcome their psychological problems. They may also conduct research to understand the causes of mental health disorders and develop more effective treatments.

Differences between Applied Psychology and Clinical Psychology

There are several key differences between applied psychology and clinical psychology:

Focus: The focus of applied psychology is on solving practical problems in various settings such as workplaces or schools. Clinical psychology focuses on diagnosing and treating mental health disorders.

Licensure: Clinical psychologists require a license to practice as they deal with mental health disorders. On the other hand, applied psychologists do not require a license as they do not provide clinical services.

Education: Clinical psychologists require a doctoral degree in psychology to practice. In contrast, applied psychologists may have a master’s or doctoral degree in various fields such as industrial-organizational psychology, educational psychology, or forensic psychology.

Scope: Applied psychology has a broader scope than clinical psychology as it covers various areas such as workplace productivity, education, or legal matters. Clinical psychology has a narrower scope as it focuses on mental health disorders.


In conclusion, applied psychology and clinical psychology are two distinct branches of psychology that differ in focus, licensure requirements, education, and scope. While both fields aim to improve people’s lives through the application of psychological knowledge, they have different approaches and objectives. Understanding the differences between the two fields is crucial for individuals who are considering a career in psychology or seeking psychological services.