Clinical psychology and psychotherapy are two disciplines of applied psychology. Although these two disciplines are strongly related and both focus on the management on mental health issues, they differ substantially in goals, methods and practice. In the following, these two disciplines are described with regard to their goals, methods, practice and training.

Clinical Psychology

The goal of clinical psychology is to identify, classify, diagnose and treat mental health issues. Being a discipline of applied psychology, clinical psychologists rely on scientific and empirically tested models and procedures. The practice of a clinical psychologist is not only applicable for mental disorders, such as depressive or anxiety disorders, but also extent in the promotion of healthy behavior as well as the management of somatic illnesses, such as the management of patients with diabetes. Clinical psychologists are experts in diagnostics and the comprehensive management of disorders and illnesses, which includes counseling skills and methods. Clinical psychology is an established discipline of psychology with proven efficacy and services of clinical psychologists work in hospitals and rehabilitation clinics as well as in ambulatory mental health care services, schools and in prevention programs.


Whereas the practice of the clinical psychologist is focused on the assessment, diagnostics and overall management of mental health issues, the psychotherapist has an additional expertise in the treatment of psychological problems and mental disorders with psychotherapy. Psychotherapy has a long history and based on over 50 years of scientific evaluation and clinical experience, it is the method of choice for mental disorders and health problems, either as stand-alone treatment or in combination with pharmacological treatment approaches. Also, psychotherapy is an adjunct treatment in the medical management of somatic illnesses, such as the enhancement of adherence to medication. There are different psychotherapeutical methods and procedures, but all psychotherapeutical approaches are based on a empathetic, supportive and trusting relationship, a shared and comprehensive understanding of the problems and its treatment.

Postgraduate Training in Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy

Because both clinical psychology and psychotherapy are established components of the management of mental disorders as well as the somatic illnesses, both disciplines are necessary parts of the graduate education of psychologist and the practice of clinical psychology and psychotherapy requires substantial training, including training, practice as well as supervision and personal therapy.

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