Applied Behavior Analysis Vs. Clinical Psychology: A Definitive Guide

Upon hearing the word psychology, the first thing that pops up in our minds is mental health or depression. For centuries, mental health issues were not acknowledged, and we have always talked about them behind closed doors.

Researchers and psychologists like Freud, Pavlov, or Piaget have contributed a lot to highlight the importance of mental health and how our behavior and thoughts affect it. We can find plenty of studies and research explaining the brain’s function, human emotions, behavior, or cognition. With time and constant awareness, the stigma associated with mental health has reduced, but it still exists. 

The field of psychology has evolved enormously and has gathered the attention of students enrolling in universities.

Decades back, there was not much inclination to pursue an academic degree in psychology or such jobs. Ever since people have become aware and understood the significance of mental health, many students and professionals have paid attention to learning its foundations. 

Furthermore, psychological treatments these days are focusing more on clinical aspects but also redirecting the behavioral approach. Students interested in psychology often find it challenging to pick the right field.

Every sub-division of psychology has its benefits and enticing aspects that one may want to pursue. People intending to help those suffering from mental health disorders may face roadblocks while choosing applied behavior analysis or clinical psychology.

Students with a keen observation of behavioral patterns can enroll in ABA masters online to hone their skills and learn more about behavioral science. 

This article will serve as a guide to understand the difference between applied behavior analysis and clinical psychology to help you choose what is best for you. 

The Core Differences

Applied behavior analysis or ABA falls under a type of therapy focusing on analyzing and improving specific behaviors like communication, social skills, or academics. It also hones the expertise for enhancing adaptive learning skills like health and hygiene, fine motor skills, job competence, and other daily life routines.

Applied behavior analysis has proven to be more effective for adults or children facing psychological issues at schools, workplaces, clinics, and homes. The most common intervention of applied behavior analysis is for children or individuals who have autism. B

y analyzing the behavior and understanding the issues, ABA enables autistic individuals to improve their social interaction and communication skills.

In contrast, clinical psychology focuses on providing continued comprehensive behavioral and mental healthcare to individuals. This field of psychology is broadly inclusive of severe pathological mental health conditions requiring clinical and therapeutic interventions.

People associated with clinical psychology have a greater understanding of mental health issues with detailed psychopathology analysis. Clinical psychology differs from ABA. It involves assessing the severity of mental health disorders, identifying their root cause, and devising a treatment by combining different techniques. 

Role of a Clinical Psychologist

Clinical psychologists work in different settings, like hospitals, schools, nursing homes, and even law settings. A clinical psychologist wears many caps when it comes to dealing with patients and recording their histories.

They use different therapies and procedures to help their patients overcome the troubling emotions and symptoms hindering their life. A clinical psychologist analyzes and assesses client’s behaviors and needs through interviews and psychometric tests.

They deal with a range of mental health issues like depression, anxiety, substance abuse, addiction, and challenging behaviors. Clinical psychologists maintain their data records and patient history that can contribute to different research studies.

These psychologists can collaborate with a psychiatrist, psychotherapist, and behavior analyst to treat their clients. 

Role of an Applied Behavior Analyst

Applied behavior analysts are skilled and trained individuals who understand and assess the challenging behaviors arising from people’s mental health issues.

A certified behavior analyst supports people with emotional disabilities. They identify the impact of cognition on behavior and help the individuals in transforming their lifestyles. Often people become isolated or exhibit a state of denial after a traumatizing event.

A behavior analyst will assess the behavior and apply therapies and techniques to improve the behavior and reduce its adverse effects. They observe the patient through interviews and observe their behavior’s pathological aspects that hinder their routine.

These analysts shoulder the responsibility of developing different treatment plans by combining various therapies and techniques. Behaviour analysts significantly help clinical psychologists and psychotherapists. They help them identify or devise a treatment plan for patients with challenging behaviours resulting from a trauma or a mental health disorder. 


More than half of Americans suffer from trauma once in their lifetime. Mental health problems are a severe concern, and seeking a professional’s help can do wonders.

Be it a clinical psychologist or a behaviour analyst; they share a common goal of ensuring patients’ well-being. These are trained professionals who play a substantial role in uplifting the emotional burdens leading to an individual’s mental distress.

We all can deal with our troubling emotions. But these experts can help us understand our feelings and equip us with coping strategies to make our lives better.


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