Differences Between Health Psychologist and Clinical Psychologist

Health Psychologist or Clinical Psychologist, What’s the difference?

Health Psychologist

Health psychologists apply their understanding of health and psychology to support people to deal with the psychological and emotional components of health and illness. They support people who are dealing with a number of illnesses, whether it is a chronic illness or cancer diagnosis. They help promote healthy lifestyles and motivate individuals to stop smoking (smoking cessation) or lose weight. When offering 1:1 support, health psychologists look at several factors. These include environmental, psychological, socio-economic as well as physical health factors in order to develop an intervention for the person.

Despite the fact that health psychology is a sub-specialty field of clinical psychology, it has grown in recent years. Generally speaking, health psychologists work with adults, children and older adults. This is similar to clinical psychologists, both professionals may work within multi-disciplinary teams (nurses, doctors, dieticians, surgeons etc). Interestingly, you can also find health psychologists working in a community health setting, hospitals, university research teams and public health settings. Health psychologists can sometimes work independently with other healthcare organisations for consultation. They partake in the overall improvement of healthcare practice through research, such as training doctors and other healthcare practitioners on how they can communicate better with clients.

Clinical psychologist

Clinical psychologists help people with their mental, emotional and physical problems in their life, such as depression, psychosis, eating disorders and addiction. Clinical psychologists diagnose mental disorders through observation, psychometric tests and interviews. This is when there is some overlapping with health and counselling psychology, however, the main aim of clinical psychology is to improve the psychological wellbeing of the individual.

Health Psychology Training

There are several routes you can take to become a chartered member of the British Psychological Society (BPS). To become a health psychologist, the following qualifications are required:

  • Graduate Basis for Charted Membership (GBC) which is gained by completing an accredited undergraduate degree in psychology. Alternatively, you can complete a BPS accredited conversion course.
  • BPS accredited MSc in Health Psychology (Stage 1)

In addition to the above, you will need to complete ONE of the following qualifications:

There is only one NHS-funded scheme for Trainee Health Psychologists funded by the Scottish government. There is potential to apply for funding from employers and other funding institutions to complete the doctorate. Some Psychology PhD students also complete the BPS qualification alongside their research, as this route affords them flexibility.

Clinical Psychology Training

To become a Clinical Psychologist is a little bit more straightforward, even if it’s an incredibly competitive process. To undertake clinical training, the following is required:

  • Graduate Basis for Charted Member (GBC), attained by completing a BPS accredited degree in Psychology or conversion course.
  • BPS accredited Doctorate in Clinical Psychology

Majority of clinical psychology doctorate courses are applied via Clearing House.

In order for you to use the title ‘Clinical Psychologist’, you are required to register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), therefore, the doctorate must also be accredited by HCPC.

If you are an aspiring clinical psychologist, please be sure to keep up to date with Clearing House’s important dates regarding the application process.

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