- Many people use the slang word "shrink" when referring to and joking about psychological doctors. However, psychological doctors prepare greatly for the work they do--both in terms of education and personal maturity. These types of professional psychologists work with all types of populations, such as children, adults, and the mentally ill, and they work in all types of environments. About one third of psychologists work in private practice, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2010-11 Occupational Outlook Handbook. The BLS also reports that these clinical professionals earn an average salary of around $72,000 annually.
- Psychological doctors must earn a doctoral degree in psychology. Clinical psychologists that work with patients and practice counseling and psychotherapy hold either a clinical Doctor of Philosophy or Doctor of Psychology. Both of these degrees require the individual to go through five to seven years of training, which generally includes four years of coursework and one to two years of a clinical internship. During graduate school, students typically choose a specialty psychology area, such as child and adolescent psychology, health psychology, mental health or behavioral neuroscience. To graduate with your doctorate, you're required to submit an original piece of research in a psychology topic area, often called the "dissertation."
- All states require practicing and professional psychologists to be licensed in the field. These licensing requirements vary from state to state, but generally require the psychological doctor to pass a state exam and complete an approved internship. Many state psychologists boards also require candidates to adhere to a code of ethics. Some states mandate continuing education requirements for the psychologist's license renewal.
- Becoming a practicing psychologist involves working with a variety of clients from the emotionally unstable to the criminally insane. For this reason, a psychological doctor has to be emotionally mature and stable. Psychologists learn many interpersonal skills during graduate training, but other personal qualifications that make for a well-rounded doctor include the ability to deal effectively with people, excellent active listening and communication skills, and sensitivity and compassion towards others.