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What is a Psychologist?

What is a Psychologist?
Photo: 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.).

Many psychologists are trained in clinical psychology. This field of psychology involves specialised training in mental health problems and psychological problems.  Clinical psychologists can also specialise in the forensic, neuropsychological or educational fields.
Clinical psychology can be a very fascinating field to work in.

Three main proponents of clinical psychology are:

  • cognitive behaviour
  • the psychodynamic approach
  • the humanistic perspective.

Famous psychologists include Sigmund Freud, Ivan Pavlov and Carl Jung. These psychologists made ground breaking discoveries in the field of psychology, such as analytical psychology and behaviourism.

Psychologists can work in private practice or in hospitals. They can work in private industry, in prisons or in the defence force. There are also positions in the teaching and research fields.

Psychologists can conduct tests such as personality tests, aptitude, vocational and intelligence tests. People who see a psychologist in order to get tested may find it very helpful, especially if they’re not sure what kind of work they’re suited to.

Psychologists can help patients deal with a difficult time in their life or treat patients who suffer from an eating disorder, drug or alcohol dependency, anxiety, depression, relationship problems or stress.

Patients don’t need a referral from their GP to see a psychologist, although some people prefer seeing their GP first and if the problem is beyond the GP’s expertise he or she may refer the patient to a psychologist.

A clinical psychologist will listen to the patient’s problems and assess the situation as to how well the patient is functioning emotionally, mentally and intellectually. 

They will then determine the root cause of the problem and the emotions and thoughts that the patient is experiencing. The psychologist will then come up with thought processes that the patient can use in order to deal with their problems in a more effective way.

How do you become a psychologist?

You need to complete a four year full time undergraduate degree in psychology (such as a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) or Bachelor of Psychological Science) and a subsequent two year full time Master of Psychology or Doctor of Psychology postgraduate degree.

Once you are qualified to work as a psychologist, you will need to register with the Psychologists Registration Board. Many psychologists are also members of the Australian Psychological Society.

If you’re fascinated by human behaviour and the different ways that people think through problems, then a career as a psychologist may be very rewarding. 

Whether you’d like to work in private practice, in a hospital or in the teaching or research fields, you will be constantly studying the thought processes of humans, their perceptions and social cognition.


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