What Is Required to Practice Clinical Psychology?


Martha Robinson

If you are considering a career in clinical psychology, it’s important to understand the requirements you will need to meet in order to practice. Clinical psychology is a field that involves the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental health disorders.

It requires a deep understanding of human behavior and emotions, as well as extensive training and education. Here is a breakdown of what is required to practice clinical psychology:

Educational Requirements

In order to become a clinical psychologist, you will need to earn a doctoral degree in psychology. This typically involves completing a four-year undergraduate degree in psychology or a related field, followed by a doctoral program that takes another four to six years to complete. During your doctoral program, you will likely be required to complete coursework in areas such as psychopathology, research methods, and psychological assessment.

Internship and Residency

After completing your doctoral program, you will need to complete an internship and residency program before you can become licensed to practice. These programs typically last for one or two years and involve supervised clinical work with patients.


In order to practice clinical psychology independently, you must be licensed by the state in which you plan to work. Licensure requirements vary by state but typically involve completing an accredited doctoral program, completing an internship and residency program, passing a licensing exam, and meeting ongoing continuing education requirements.

Skills Required

In addition to meeting educational and licensure requirements, clinical psychologists must possess certain skills in order to be effective practitioners. These include:

  • Empathy: Clinical psychologists must be able to understand their patients’ experiences on an emotional level.
  • Communication: They must be able to communicate effectively with patients as well as other healthcare professionals.
  • Critical thinking: Clinical psychologists must be able to analyze complex information and make decisions based on their analysis.
  • Problem-solving: They must be able to develop effective treatment plans for patients with a wide range of mental health disorders.


Becoming a clinical psychologist requires a significant amount of time, effort, and dedication. However, for those who are passionate about helping people overcome mental health challenges, it can be an incredibly rewarding career. By meeting the educational and licensure requirements, as well as possessing the necessary skills, you can become a highly effective clinical psychologist.