Skills and Competencies
Psychological assessment and diagnosis
Clinical psychologists have specialist training in the assessment and diagnosis of the major mental illnesses and psychological problems. Through their specialist training, clinical psychologists are qualified to provide expert opinion in clinical, compensation, educational and legal jurisdictions. Some clinical psychologists also specialise in particular types of assessment such as neuropsychological, forensic and educational assessment.
Psychological assessments can be performed for many reasons. Although it is not necessary to undergo formal psychological assessment before beginning some therapies, others do rely on a comprehensive understanding of how past and present factors contribute to people's problems before therapy can be started. Clinical psychologists commonly investigate people's past experiences, often as far back as they can remember, in order to understand how they have affected the development of someone's personality and how their personality affects the ways that they think, behave and feel on a daily basis. Often it can be therapeutic in itself to have a psychological assessment. People often feel empowered and better equipped to make changes in their lives if they can understand what "makes them tick". Other therapies rely on the gradual uncovering of important events as part of the therapy process rather than right at the start. We can perform psychological assessments:
- Routinely, as part of or as a precursor to therapy
- To help people better understand themselves
- To help others involved in a person's care to better understand them
- For medical and legal reasons
Psychometric assessment is a more formal method of investigating, describing and measuring certain abilities, deficits, traits, personality features, behaviours, thoughts or emotions. This can be important for many reasons, but the most common reason is to better understand and quantify problem areas in a person's functioning. Cognitive assessment is another type of psychological assessment that is helpful for people who may have neuropsychological (brain) differences. A cognition is a thought or mental process. These problems can appear as attention/concentration problems, memory problems, learning problems, anger control problems, impulse control problems, etc. Cognitive testing can be helpful in identifying particular problems and understanding how to treat the problems. We can perform psychometric and cognitive assessments for the following:
- To better understand and measure symptoms
- To better understand and measure personality characteristics
- To better understand and measure areas of cognitive functioning, such as:
Intellectual functioning, (b) Memory,
(c) Attention, (d) Concentration,
(e) Executive Function
Clinical psychologists are trained in the delivery of a range of techniques and therapies with demonstrated effectiveness in treating mental health disorders. They are specialists in applying psychological theory and scientific research to solve complex clinical problems requiring individually tailored interventions.
Research, teaching and evaluation
Research, teaching and evaluation are all integral to the role of clinical psychologists. Research is often conducted on prevention, diagnosis, assessment and treatment. Clinical psychologists are involved in the design and implementation of treatment strategies in various settings (such as primary care, psychiatric and rehabilitation) and in the subsequent evaluation of treatment outcomes.