What is a Psychologist?
Also known as: Doctor of Psychology.
Table of Contents
- What is a Psychologist?
- What does a Psychologist do?
- What is the workplace of a Psychologist like?
- What is the difference between a social worker and a psychologist?
- What is the difference between a psychologist and a clinical psychologist?
- What is some good advice for psychology students?
- What is it like being a psychologist?
- What is the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist?
- Further Reading
- Similar Careers
A psychologist is someone who studies mental processes and human behaviour by observing, interpreting, and recording how people relate to one another and the environment. Some psychologists work independently, doing research or working only with patients or clients. Others work as part of a healthcare team, collaborating with physicians, social workers, and others to treat illness and promote overall wellness.
What does a Psychologist do?
A psychologist will typically do the following:
- Conduct scientific studies to study behaviour and brain function (neuropsychologist)
- Collect information through observations, interviews, surveys, tests, and other methods
- Find patterns that will help them understand and predict behaviour
- Use their knowledge to increase understanding among individuals and groups
- Develop programs that improve schools and workplaces by addressing psychological issues
- Work with individuals, couples, and families to help them make desired changes to behaviours
- Identify and diagnose mental, behavioural, or emotional disorders
- Develop and carry out treatment plans
- Collaborate with physicians or social workers to help treat patients
Psychologists seek to understand and explain thoughts, emotions, feelings, and behaviour. Depending on the topic of study, psychologists use techniques such as observation, assessment, and experimentation to develop theories about the beliefs and feelings that influence a person’s actions.
Psychologists often gather information and evaluate behaviour through controlled laboratory experiments, psychoanalysis, or psychotherapy. They also may administer personality, performance, aptitude, or intelligence tests. They look for patterns of behaviour or cause-and-effect relationships between events, and use this information when testing theories in their research or treating patients.
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What is the workplace of a Psychologist like?
Some psychologists work alone, which may include independent research or individually counselling patients. Others work as part of a healthcare team, collaborating with physicians, social workers, and others to treat illness and promote overall wellness. Many clinical and counseling psychologists in private practice have their own offices and can set their own schedules. Other typical workplaces include clinics, hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, and community and mental health centres. Most research psychologists work in colleges and universities, government agencies, or private research organizations.
Most school psychologists work in public schools, ranging in level from nursery school through college. They also work in private schools, universities, hospitals and clinics, community treatment centres, and independent practice.
Psychologists in private practice can often set their own hours, and many work part time as independent consultants. However, they often offer evening or weekend hours to accommodate clients. Those employed in hospitals, nursing homes, or other healthcare facilities may also have evening or weekend shifts. Most psychologists working in clinics, government, industry, or schools work full-time schedules during regular business hours.
A social worker acts as a client advocate, educator, coordinator of care, and an adviser. He or she will work as a liaison with the family, and will look at helping with finances, admissions, discharges, housing, follow-up appointments to outside services, and is sometimes the link to the courts and any legal procedures.
A psychologist works with individuals, couples, and families by identifying and diagnosing mental behavioural and emotional disorders. He or she will then develop a treatment plan, and if necessary, collaborate with doctors or social workers to help the patient carry through with the desired changes. In a nutshell, a social worker addresses problems within our society. A psychologist addresses problems due to our society.
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A psychologist refers to someone who has completed a four year university-based psychology degree. To be a registered psychologist you need to have completed university plus two years of supervised clinical experience.
A clinical psychologist is someone who has completed four years of university, a two year master's degree, and then another two years of supervised clinical training. Clinical psychologists also have continuing education on an annual basis. There are also clinical psychologists who have completed a PhD, or a doctorate of clinical psychology, and these highly qualified clinicians can use the title of 'doctor'.
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It would be wise to get your undergraduate major in psychology, since many graduate programs in psychology will require it. Even in your first year of university, it wouldn’t be too early to identify some graduate programs you might be interested in attending. Find out exactly what they require for admission so you don't waste time later, by going back and taking courses you didn't know you needed.
When you do apply for graduate school, it would be extremely advantageous if you had research experience under your belt. Get to know a professor in your undergrad years that conducts psychological research, and offer to work as his/her assistant. This professor could eventually become your mentor if you prove yourself to be humble, reliable, and dependable.
There are positive and negative aspects to any career, and a career in psychology is no different.
Some negative aspects:
- it can be emotionally draining
- the job can sometimes be frustrating (many clients don't come back after the first visit)
- it takes time to get established in a community for private practice
- it can be professionally isolating if in private practice
Some positive aspects:
- psychology is a diverse field offering many opportunities
- it is mainly a nine to five work schedule
- getting to see the results of your work is rewarding
- it is dependable work once established within a community
Both psychiatrists and psychologists conduct psychotherapy and research, but there are significant differences between the two professions.
The first difference is in education: a psychiatrist has a degree in medicine, and is a medical doctor, whereas the psychologist has a degree (a masters or a doctorate) in psychology. The second difference is that a psychiatrist can prescribe medication, whereas a psychologist cannot.
If you are trying to choose between the two careers, you will need to determine if you would prefer to assess, diagnose, treat and prevent mental illness and be able to prescribe medications to your patients (psychiatrist), or if you would prefer to conduct psychotherapy, administer psychological tests, and conduct research (a psychologist).
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Top 10 Qualities Of A Great Psychologist
Psychology is a rapidly-growing profession, and specialties abound in the field. To be successful in the psychology field, one must have certain qualities.
Subfields Of Psychology
The study and practice of psychology encompasses a vast range of topics and a large number of subfields and specialty areas have developed as a result. Because human behavior is so varied, the number of subfields in psychology is constantly growing and evolving.
What Do Practicing Psychologists Do?
Psychologists with doctoral degrees (either a PhD, PsyD or EdD) receive one of the highest levels of education of all health care professionals, spending an average of seven years in education and training after they receive their undergraduate degrees. The American Psychological Association estimates that there are about 85,000 licensed psychologists in the United States.
What Is A Psychologist?
A psychologist studies how we think, feel and behave from a scientific viewpoint and applies this knowledge to help people understand, explain and change their behaviour.
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