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A psychologist is a scientist and/or clinician who studies psychology, the systematic investigation of the human mind, including behavior and cognition. Psychologists are usually categorized under a number of different fields, the most well-recognized being clinical psychologists, who provide mental health care, and research psychologists, who collect information on people's minds.


[edit] Psychology in the professional world

In the professional world 'psychologist' has two meanings. In the broadest of these two meanings, psychologist refers to anyone with an advanced degree in clinical psychology, counseling, industrial psychology, educational psychology, or one of several other subfields, and who makes professional contributions based upon that training, be it as a therapist, counselor, researcher, teacher, or consultant. This sense of the word is independent of licensing.

The narrower sense of the word 'psychologist' refers to licensing and to a legal context. In the United States and Canada, 'psychologist' is a protected professional title. In this sense, the title of psychologist means that the mental health professional has a doctoral degree (usually a Ph.D., Psy.D., or Ed. D.) in clinical, counseling, industrial, or eductional psychology and has also met state or provincial licensing criteria. Those criteria typically include a period of post-doctoral practice under the supervision of a licensed psychologist, a licensing exam, and continuing education requirements. In most states in the United States and in most provinces in Canada, only licensed psychologists, licensed therapists (like Marriage and Family Therapists) and psychiatrists can legally provide psychotherapy and use this term to refer to aspects of the mental health treatments they perform. Most states exempt from licensing school psychologists who practice within employment by a school district - such psychologists must be certified by their state or province department of education.

[edit] Statistics for licensed psychologists

These statistics are from the United States information dated 2002 unless noted otherwise.

  • Employed psychologists: 139,000
  • ¼ self-employed
  • 3/10 employed by educational institutions (in positions other than teaching)
  • Median income for clinical psychologists: US$81,170
  • Median income for industrial/organizational psychologists: US$93,710

[edit] Contrast of clinical psychologist with psychiatrist

Main article: Psychiatry

In the U.S., both licensed psychiatrists and clinical psychologists hold a doctorate in their field. Psychiatrists are physicians who have earned an M.D. or a D.O., whereas psychologists have earned a Ph.D., Psy.D., or Ed.D. Psychiatrists generally spend shorter periods of contact time with clients/patients, and the principle method of treatment is psychopharmacology. Conversely, clinical psychologists generally rely upon psychological assessment and the use of psychotherapy to relieve psychological distress. It is not uncommon for people suffering from mental illness to combine these services to maximize their impact.

See also: Mental health professional

[edit] Types of psychologists

Psychologists are often categorised under different fields or disciplines.

See also: List of psychology disciplines

[edit] Clinical psychologists

Main article: Clinical psychology

Clinical psychologists and counseling psychologists often work in clinics, counseling centers, hospitals and private practices. They diagnose and evaluate mental and emotional disorders, and use tools such as cognitive-behavioral and interpersonal psychotherapy and hypnosis to treat patients. They conduct interviews and psychological tests, and may conduct complex treatment programs, sometimes in conjunction with physicians or other medical specialists. There are specialties within the field of clinical psychology depending on the focus in clinical medicine, including psychopathology, counseling, neuropsychology, medical psychology, clinical health psychology, and forensic psychology.

[edit] Forensic psychologists

Main article: Forensic psychology

Forensic Psychologists are recognized experts in the application of psychological principles to the legal system. Different areas of application include the assessment and treatment of criminal offenders, reporting to courts, working with police, profiling, and advising legal counsel, to name just a few. The majority of forensic psychologists work with offenders, attempting to assess criminogenic needs and identify pathways for their containment.

[edit] Medical psychologists

Main article: Medical psychology

Medical psychologists are specialists in psychological and behavioral aspects of physical illness and have additional advanced training in psychopharmacology, physiology, and rehabilitation. Their clinical tools include assessment in general and specialist medicine (e.g., chronic illness management, pain treatment, brain injury), clinical psychophysiology (eg, biofeedback), psychotherapy, hypnosis, behavioral medicine, and psychosocial interventions; they are licensed to prescribe medication in certain countries. They tend to work in hospitals and private practice. The specialty is not recognized in all countries.

[edit] Health psychologists

Main article: Health psychology

Health psychologists are of two general types: clinical health psychologists (similar to medical psychologists) and community health psychologists (who specialize in psychological and psychosocial aspects of health in the larger community). Clinical health psychologists are oriented to biopsychosocial aspects of physical health and illness and their field overlaps that of behavioral medicine to a large extent. Clinical and community health psychologists work in a number of different roles: clinical diagnosis of problems that relate to physical illness, psychological, psychophysiological, and psychosocial interventions; clinical communication; organisational design in medical care; health promotion; teaching and training; consultancy; giving advice on health policy. The clinical specialty is not recognised independently in all countries (e.g., New Zealand).

[edit] School psychologists

Main article: School psychologist

School psychologist work in schools, state departments of education, hospitals, clinics and universities. They are primarily interested in applying psychological knowledge to the resolution of schooling and learning problems. They provide consultation to teachers, administrators, and parents; assessment of students (including assessment of disabilities requiring special education); intervention services; in-service education for staff; family intervention; program evaluation; and research.

[edit] Organizational psychologists

Organizational psychologists are concerned with the performance of people at work and in training, with developing an understanding of how organizations function and how individuals and groups behave at work. Their aim is to increase effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction at work. This specialty can be highly lucrative.

[edit] Research Psychologists

Research psychologists study behavioral processes by experimenting on human beings and animals. They work in universities and private research centers, as well as for government organizations and often contribute to fields including marketing, design, and different forms of drug and chemical research. Common areas of research include perception, memory, motivation, and factors affecting development and behavior. The licensing of a Psychologist is however very different from the regular profession of a doctor.

[edit] Professional licensing requirements

Licensed psychologists, in virtually every jurisdiction and state in Canada and the U.S., are required to have obtained academic doctoral degrees (typically a Ph.D. or Psy.D.). These academic programs typically take four to six years to complete and offer some combination of rigorous training in research, clinical practice, and the science of psychology. Licensed psychologists can contribute to scientific research in the form of a dissertation. In this sense, the Ph.D. in professional psychology is a hybrid academic/professional degree (with a greater focus on academics), and university programs in professional psychology are not only academic but are also training programs typically characterized by rigor and intensity. Some psychologists have professional degrees in psychology (Psy.D.), which focus more on clinical practice, and include similarly rigorous coursework, supervised professional training, internship, and developing the ability to conduct and interpret academic research. While only some Psy.D. programs require original scientific research, they typically do require an academic dissertation.

Within Australia the title 'psychologist' is also restricted by law. Use of the title is reserved for individuals registered with their States Psychologist's Registration Board, which requires a four year bachelors degree and either two years of further accredited study or two years of supervised work. These restrictions apply to all who want to use the title 'psychologist' in any of its forms.

In New Zealand, the use of the title 'psychologist' is restricted by law. Initially, only 'clinical psychologist' and 'registered psychologist' were restricted (to people qualified as such). However, in 2004, the use of psychologist is now limited to only those registered psychologists (including clinical psychologists). This is to prevent the misrepresentation of other psychology qualifications in the mental health field. Academic psychologists (e.g., social psychologists) are now only able to refer to themselves as 'researchers in psychology'.

In the UK the use of the title "chartered psychologist" is protected by law. However use of the term 'psychologist', 'psychotherapist' or 'therapist' is not. This can create confusion and varying quality of service as many inadequately trained practitioners who are not chartered can establish practices and charge for services for which they are not properly trained.

Similar restrictions apply in the United States, although application of these restrictions varies state-by-state. Most states include exemptions from licensing in order to use the title "psychologist" if they are teaching in universities, or if they are certified by the state's department of education as a school psychologist and are practicing psychology within the scope of their employment in a school district. In most states, self-employed psychologists offering services to the public, whether they are clinical, counseling, school, or industrial psychologists must be licensed, which usually requires an advanced degree, two years of supervised experience, and passing written and oral examinations. The licensing may carry the title of licensed psychologist, Marriage and Family Therapist, or some other title depending upon the state or province and the license involved.

[edit] Prescribing Powers

In some countries, psychologists cannot obtain a license to prescribe psychiatric medications. Prescription privileges in the United States have recently begun to change, e.g., in New Mexico and Louisiana.

[edit] See also

Related Books and Films

  • The Corporation - A documentary about the history of the corporation and it's abuses. It includes a section about child psychologists using their skills to help companies market their products to children.

[edit] References




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