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 Roles of psychologists

The roles of clinical psychologists and clinical neuropsychologists are varied. The specialty psychology tasks can be grouped into direct clinical work, consultation, research and evaluation, and specialist interest groups and portfolios.

With an increasing emphasis on the provision of evidence-based psychological practice in NWMH, psychologists have opportunities to use and develop their discipline-specific knowledge and promote evidence-based clinical practice such as CBT relapse prevention programs and CBT for auditory hallucinations and delusions.  Psychologists also have a role in providing psychological assessments and offering diagnostic opinions in their specific area of practice.

Direct Clinical Work

Clinical psychologists aim to improve client outcomes through the provision of psychological services within a case management practice or via specific direct referrals. Most clinical psychologists develop expertise in specific areas or practise in sub-specialties.

These include:

  • Psychological assessment, diagnosis and treatment planning
  • Evidence-based therapy, including cognitive-behaviour therapy, motivational interviewing, relapse prevention, and approaches aimed at reduction of positive symptoms, adaptation to disability and improvement of psychosocial functioning
  • Family work (family psycho-education, problem solving, therapy to reduce trauma experienced by carers and clients and to reduce relapse rates)

 Clinical psychologists provide specific interventions in the areas of:

  • Anxiety (OCD, GAD, PTSD, Panic)
  • Mood disorders (depression, bipolar affective disorder)
  • Eating disorders
  • Personality disorders (to reduce the incidence of self harm, use of medical and hospital services and to improve adaptive functioning)
  • Positive and negative symptoms of psychosis
  • Sleep disorders
  • Behaviour management, such as analysis and modification of disordered behaviour patterns
  • Development of social, vocational and daily living skills via either formal or informal programs based on learning theory
  • Group work (eg. anxiety management, social phobia, reducing functional impairment)

 Clinical neuropsychologists see clients for assessment, rehabilitation or education and counselling.  They also work within a team to assist in the ongoing management and treatment of people who suffer from known brain dysfunction including mental illness, with the aim of improving overall functioning and quality of life.

Clinical neuropsychologists provide specific interventions including:

  • Cognitive screening, e.g., to rule out a delirium or organic (physical brain) aetiologies and assessment of intellectual functioning (IQ), memory, executive function and dementia
  • Personality profiling
  • Learning difficulties assessment, vocational guidance and counselling
  • Delineation of psychological/neuropsychological sequelae of organic deficits
  • Assistance with differential diagnosis of functional deficits due either to mental illness, medication, substance abuse or head injury
  • Assistance with strategies for cognitive or psychosocial rehabilitation
  • Psycho education regarding the effects of mental illness on neural function and behaviour

Consultancy work

In addition to direct provision of service, clinical psychologists and clinical neuropsychologists work within programs to enhance awareness of psychological approaches to the treatment of mental illness, and to promote and support the use of psychological and neuropsychological interventions. This occurs through input to multidisciplinary team meetings and the provision of advice and supervision for other health care professionals on psychological aspects of care and neuropsychology issues.

Research and evaluation

Clinical psychology and clinical neuropsychology training is grounded in the scientist practitioner model, and both have specific training in evaluation and research methodology. Many clinical psychologists and clinical neuropsychologists have roles within their organisations that effectively make use of this skill base.

Portfolios and interest groups

All clinical psychologists are invited to participate in activities to promote psychology and assist to provide high standards of psychological services.  Staff often hold portfolios in teams that reflect their interests and skills as a clinical psychologist, such as evaluation portfolios. 



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