What Is A Psychologist?

In its most simplistic sense, psychologists are professionals who are interested in human behavior. They are commonly depicted in movies and television shows as listening to patients explain their problems. They actually do more than just listen to their clients. Psychologists also observe, interpret and record what they see and hear from their clients.

In addition to observation, psychologists utilize interviews, surveys and other methods in order to gather the information and data they need. They may even conduct research and look for patterns of behavior to better understand clients. Based on their assessments, they come up with theories that explain the beliefs, feelings and motivations behind a person’s actions. Depending on who they are working with, psychologists use the knowledge they have gained to facilitate understanding between individuals and among groups.

Because psychology is such a vast field, the work of psychologists depends on the field they specialize in. There are clinical psychologists, counseling psychologists, developmental psychologists, forensic psychologists, industrial-organizational psychologists and school psychologists. Clinical psychologists evaluate, diagnose and treat patients suffering from psychological, emotional and behavioral issues which range from personal problems to serious and long-term conditions. Strategies that they use to help patients involve providing psychotherapy in individual and group settings and coming up with behavior modification programs. Clinical psychologists work with psychiatrists and physicians when it comes to prescribing medication to patients inasmuch as they are not allowed to do so except those practicing in Louisiana and New Mexico.

Counseling psychologists provide advice to patients struggling with various problems. In their counseling sessions with clients, they try to help patients understand what they are going through and help them determine what their strengths and resources are that would enable them to cope with the recent setbacks in a healthy manner.

Developmental psychologists focus their work mainly on children and adolescents. They study the psychological progress and development of an individual to see if a child’s development is on track based on his or her age.

Psychologists who are interested in the field of education and development are called school psychologists. They work in the school setting, helping students with their concerns. Their tasks include addressing student learning and behavioral issues and counseling them and their families. They also design strategies that evaluate student performance and work with other educational professionals in improving teaching and learning methods.

Psychologists who are fascinated with the workings of the justice system specialize in forensic psychology. Through the use of psychological principles, they help legal experts like judges and lawyers understand the psychological issues surrounding a specific case by providing expert testimony in court. They are often called to testify in family, civil and criminal cases.

Those who employ their psychological principles to address problems in the workplace are industrial-organizational psychologists. They also try to initiate programs that improve employee productivity, boost employee morale and generally make the workplace experience for employees.

A bachelor’s degree in psychology is not enough for one to be called a psychologist. Those who only possess a bachelor’s degree work in other fields like education, sales and business administration. A PhD in psychology or a Doctor of Psychology degree is needed in order for one to become a clinical, counseling and research psychologist. A specialist degree and certification or licensure is both necessary for those who want to work as school psychologists. Those who possess a master’s degree in psychology may find employment as industrial-organizational psychologists or as assistants to doctoral psychologists working in counseling, clinical and research settings.

Before one can use the title “psychologist,” he must be licensed or certified. Each state has different licensing laws but all states and the District of Columbia require psychologists that hold independent practice to be licensed. In addition to fulfilling the educational and work experience requirements, licensure generally requires that they pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology. In order to keep their license, psychologists must also pass continuing education requirements.

Those who wish to specialize in any of the 13 areas in psychology may get a certification from the American Board of Professional Psychology. This is not mandatory but some healthcare settings do require it. Certification also shows that the psychologist is an expert in that particular area.

Career Spotlight: Psychologist



Psychologists are concerned with the scientific examination of human behavior and the mind. Cognitive functions, social exchanges, and emotional processes are all a part of psychology. These internal [...]

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