Clinical Sociologist: Job Description, Duties and Outlook
Clinical sociologists develop and apply techniques to change human behavior, usually in a group setting. Rather than just researching and observing, clinical sociologists intervene with their subjects with the aim of improving social behavior.
With a broad background of knowledge, clinical sociologists can work in a variety of venues. They might conduct therapy or applied research, or they might work as organizational consultants, professors or criminal mitigation experts. Many clinical sociologists work as university professors and perform intervention-type sociology practice as a part-time job. They may specialize in one type of sociology, such as gender relations, family interactions or social psychology.
In general, clinical sociology is a practice-oriented science, with a focus on diagnoses and change. Clinical sociologists help clients understand how interpersonal and social forces affect their behavior, and they encourage clients to enact positive change in their lives. In general, clinical sociologists should have excellent communication, logic and analytical skills. They should also have an interest in working with others to explore human behavior. Licensure is not necessarily required, but a clinical sociologist with an advanced degree can become professionally endorsed as a Certified Sociological Practitioner (C.S.P.) from the Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology (AACP).
In general, a clinical sociologist identifies problems and proposes solutions. In a therapeutic or counseling scenario, clinical sociologists help clients alleviate issues with society or with other individuals, such as in marriage counseling. They might work with specific groups or an entire community to pinpoint issues and find ways to eliminate them. Clinical sociologists working in consulting positions might advise organizations on how to improve their social structure in the office, often through discussion of ideas such as power relationships, communication gaps and gender inequality.
Other duties vary depending on the specifics of the clinical sociology position. For example, a clinical sociologist working as a mitigator might prepare and present the life history of a client as testimony in order to provide the jury with any relevant life details. Teachers or trainers might present information to given groups of people to facilitate change. For example, they may teach cultural competency to a social services organization or lead workshops about death and bereavement for those who work in terminal care.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that employment of all sociologists was expected to grow faster than average, at 21% from 2008-18 (www.bls.gov). Individuals with a master's or doctoral degree will have the best opportunities for employment. Sociologists possess a broad skill-base that can be used by a variety of industries, including consulting, advertising and the federal government.
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