What is a Psychologist

What is a Psychologist. A psychologist is an Allied Health professional who specialises in the treatment of mental health problems and human behaviour. The difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist is that a psychologist primarily aids the depressed patient by counselling and psychotherapy. A psychiatrist may also perform psychotherapy; but, in addition, can prescribe medications. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor. A psychologist may hold a doctoral degree (Ph.D.) and be called "doctor"; but, is not a medical doctor (M.D.).

The term psychologist can apply to people who:
  • Use psychological knowledge and research to solve problems, such as treating mental illnesses

  • Work as social scientists to conduct psychological research and teach at colleges or universities
  • The American Psychological Association (APA) recognizes 56 distinct divisions, each representing a specialized field within psychology.


Types of Psychologists

While there are many different types of psychologists, they typically fall into one of three different areas:
  1. Applied Psychologists utilize psychological principles and research to solve real-world problems. Examples include aviation psychologists, engineering psychologists, industrial-organizational psychologists, and human factors psychologists.
  2. Research Psychologists conduct studies and experiments with human or animal participants. Research psychologists often work for universities, private businesses, or government entities. Their research may focus on a wide range of specialty areas within psychology, including cognition, neuroscience, personality, development, and social behavior.
  3. Mental Health Psychologists work with people suffering from mental disorders or psychological distress. They often work in hospitals, mental health clinics, schools, government offices, or private practices. Examples of mental health psychologists include clinical psychologists, counseling psychologists, and school psychologists.


In simplest terms, today’s psychologists in their various roles work to:

  • Conduct basic and applied research
  • Serve as consultants to communities and organizations
  • Diagnose and treat people
  • Teach future psychologists
  • Test intelligence and personality


Through the examination of the relationships between brain function and behavior, and the environment and behavior, psychologists find ways to improve our understanding of the world around us. Psychologists contribute very real and measurable benefits to cotemporary society:

Public health organizations now use psychological research tools to assess public health programs, policies, and organizations, thereby improving their effectiveness.
Doctors and psychologists now have a better understanding of the unique mental health needs of our nation’s soldiers, veterans, and their families.
The federal government has been able to gain valuable insight into terrorist threats from a social and behavioral science perspective so as to formulate strategies to mitigate risk.


Career Option For Psichologist

Just as the field and study of psychology is immense and broad, so are the career prospects
for trained psychologists. Psychological expertise can be useful in virtually any work environment. Individuals with a bachelor’s degree in psychology most frequently work in the fields of sales, management, human resources, social services and education, though some also work in research.

A psychologist with a specialized post-graduate degree can obtain work in a number of job sectors. These careers tend to be more directly related to psychological science than the careers that can be readily obtained with an undergraduate degree. Across all subfields of psychology, the most common job placements are in academia, the public sector, the private sector, and in consulting or self-employment.

Academic psychologists are typically tenured or tenure-track professors who spend their days on a variety of tasks including conducting research, advising graduate and undergraduate students, and teaching. Most academic psychologists have PhDs in a particular subfield (such as clinical, social, developmental, or school psychology) and have cultivated expertise in a number of research topics. These jobs are typically highly competitive and require large time commitment. Other academic psychologists work only as instructors or adjunct lecturers and are on a class-by-class basis.

Psychologists work in the public sector as well, often in government or nonprofit companies. Such psychologists are typically researchers with a great deal of technical expertise and statistical training. Psychologists are employed by government institutions such as the Veteran’s Administration, the Defense Department, the Department of Education, or the Public Health Service. A master’s degree or PhD in a research-oriented field of psychology is typically required for these positions.

Many psychologists apply their research expertise to private sector jobs as well. The marketing and sales departments of major corporations frequently hire psychological researchers to determine the best methods of advertising their products. Social and I-O Psychologists also work for corporations that wish to improve employee job satisfaction or productivity.

Finally, psychologists sometimes work as independent contractors or consultants. Clinical and counseling psychologists, for example, may make their therapeutic services available to clients by opening and operating a private practice. Research psychologists with degrees in social, I-O or experimental psychology may work as consultants for nonprofit and for-profit companies, helping to evaluate program performance, analyze data, or form systematic improvements in how the organization operates.

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