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Clinical and Health Professionals and their roles

Clinical Psychologist

Clinical Psychology is the application of psychological theories, models and research to a range of psychological, psychiatric, mental health and developmental problems.

Clinical Psychologists provide a variety of services including assessment, therapy, and consultancy services.
They work primarily, but not exclusively in child and/or adult and learning disability services where emotional, behavioural, psychiatric or developmental difficulties are addressed.

(The Psychological Society of Ireland)

Psychology and Psychiatry

Psychologists and Psychiatrist often work together in various Multi Disciplinary Teams. The biggest distinction between the two mental health professions is the nature of treatment. Because psychiatrists are trained medical doctors, they can prescribe medications, and they spend much of their time with patients on medication management as a course of treatment.

Psychologists focus extensively on psychotherapy and treating emotional and mental suffering in patients with behavioral intervention. Psychologists are also qualified to conduct psychological testing, which is critical in assessing a person’s mental state and determining the most effective course
of treatment.

Clinical Assessment

Clinical assessment plays an important role in all areas of applied psychology. Psychological assessment involves collating information from multiple sources such as personal history, parent interview, screening questionnaires. This may involve the use of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th Edition, (DSM-IV-TR) and/or International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems 10th Edition, (ICD-10).

The technical term for the science behind psychological testing is psychometrics. The main aim of psychological assessments is to provide a diagnosis, assess level of functioning or disability and help direct treatment. A useful psychological measure must be both valid (i.e., actually measures what is claims to measure) and reliable (i.e., internally consistent or give consistent results over time).

Therapeutic Interventions

Clinical Psychologists can be trained to provide a variety of therapeutic interventions: –

  • Direct individual therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Parenting programmes
  • Behaviour Management
  • Psychotherapy
  • Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

Further information

Psychological Society of Ireland

Occupational Therapist

An Occupational Therapist works within a multidisciplinary team or independently. They assess, diagnose and provide therapy to individuals with ASD and other disorders/disabilities to enable them to maximise their skills and independence.

Speech and Language Therapist

A Speech and Language Therapist works within a multidisciplinary team, or independently. They assess, diagnose and provide speech and language therapy to individuals with ASD and other communications disorders and/or disabilities.

Developmental Paediatrician

A Developmental Paediatrician assesses and diagnoses children who are failing to develop or acquire skills at the accepted normal rate of development. They assess health and physical growth as well as intellectual development and usually work in tandem with other professionals.


The Developmental Paediatrician can arrange for any medical tests such as brain scans or testing for genetic conditions and will arrange for further assessments before giving a diagnosis. They will also refer the child onto other specialised multidisciplinary teams for specific assessments for conditions such as Autism.


Developmental Paediatricians usually work through a hospital, although some do have private practices. Any person who has concerns about the development of their child should ask their GP or local Health Centre for a referral to a Developmental Paediatrician.

Audiologist

An Audiologist specialises in evaluating, diagnosing and treating hearing loss and related disorders.


If your child has been referred to a Developmental Paediatrician, they may want the child to see an audiologist to rule out the presence of hearing difficulties.

Dietician

A Dietician is a health professional who specialises in the development and preparation of healthy balanced diets. They help develop specialist diets for people who may be unable to eat certain food groups because of illness, allergy or intolerance.


Many children with ASD have fussy eating habits and a dietician can help the family introduce new foods and monitor the child’s diet.

Social Worker

The role of the Social Worker is to provide support to people with disabilities and their families. This would include linking service users and their families to services and resources such as counselling, respite and home support. They may also advocate on behalf of those unable to do so for themselves.


For more information on the role of a Social Worker Irish Association of Social Workers