What Is Clinical Psychology According to APA and CPA?


Martha Robinson

Clinical psychology is a field that focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental illnesses and emotional disorders. According to the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA), clinical psychology is defined as “an integration of science, theory, and clinical knowledge for the purpose of understanding, preventing, and relieving psychologically-based distress or dysfunction and promoting subjective well-being and personal development.”

The Role of a Clinical Psychologist

Clinical psychologists work with individuals across the lifespan to assess, diagnose, and treat a range of mental health conditions. They use evidence-based interventions to help patients manage symptoms associated with conditions such as anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), eating disorders, substance abuse disorders, personality disorders, and more.

Education and Training

To become a clinical psychologist in North America requires earning a doctoral degree in clinical psychology from an accredited university or professional program. This typically involves several years of coursework in areas such as psychopathology, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), neuropsychology, psychological assessment, research methods and statistics. Students are also required to complete supervised clinical practicum placements where they gain hands-on experience working with patients under the guidance of licensed professionals.

Licensing and Certification

In order to practice as a clinical psychologist in North America one must obtain licensure through their respective state or provincial board after completing their doctoral degree. Additionally many psychologists choose to obtain certification from professional organizations such as the APA or CPA which indicates they have met additional standards beyond licensure.

The Importance of Clinical Psychology

The field of clinical psychology plays an important role in improving people’s lives by providing them with effective treatments for mental health conditions. It also helps reduce stigma around mental illness by educating people about the nature of these conditions and the fact that they are treatable. Clinical psychology research also contributes to our understanding of the human mind and behavior, which can inform interventions in other fields such as education, healthcare, and public policy.


In summary, clinical psychology is an important field that addresses mental health concerns through a combination of scientific knowledge and clinical expertise. Clinical psychologists work with patients to assess, diagnose, and treat a range of mental health conditions using evidence-based interventions. The field continues to evolve as new research is conducted and new treatments are developed, making it an exciting area for those interested in psychology or mental health.