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Psychologists - The Career Profession of Psychology

Who is a psychologist, and what exactly do they do? For the majority, the word psychologist conjures images of a professional looking man or woman sitting on a leather chair, while a patient lies nearby on a chaise, delving deep into their subconscious for answers to questions that will unleash their inner happiness. While there are certain elements of that picture that come into play during a psychotherapy session, the professional role of psychologist is based much more on the scientific process, research and treatment of individual and group behaviors, even moving into the realm of social science and anthropology.

What is Psychology?

At its essence, psychology is considered the scientific study of the mind. As far as general studies, psychologists focus on perception and emotion to cognition and attention. Everything that the mind offers, including the subconscious, are continuous areas of research, theory, practice, practical application and desired understanding for a professional psychologist.

What Does a Psychologist Do?

For the field of psychology, identifying a specific practice is a near impossibility. While an educational curriculum offering a degree in psychology may possess similarities, regardless of the institution of higher learning, psychology students generally move through the process to a doctorate degree to become a licensed psychologist. At that point a specialization is generally pursued. The field of psychology is so diverse, the American Psychological Association (APA) recognizes 56 different divisions of professional specialization.

Research Psychologist

For scientists focused on the mind, and the understanding and research of the subcategories associated with brain function and behaviors, there is sometimes very little focus applied to the practice of psychotherapy. While there are no rules applied to a psychologist practicing in a subfield, many individuals seeking degrees in psychology are interested in the work taking place in the lab, as opposed to a mental health hospital or private, psychotherapeutic practice.

Psychologists Offering Psychotherapy

The science of psychology and the applied practice of psychotherapy has come a long way from simple psychoanalysis, and the freeing of the mind to tap into the subconscious. Psychologists are adept at working their theories, philosophies and strategies to each unique patient, whether they are in need of talk therapy, deep psychoanalysis, testing for mental illness or a recommendation to a psychiatric professional who may be able to take the next necessary step of prescribing medication.

What to Expect in a Session With a Psychologist

A session with a professional psychologist will depend greatly on the nature or desire of the patient. Unless meeting for a specific test, a first session with a psychologist will more than likely involve a period of conversation. The talking will normally be question focused for the psychologist, offering them an opportunity to get to know the patient. As sessions progress, different activities, or applicable knowledge may be used to aid in the treatment of a patient, including analysis and discussion of potential solutions if the patient possesses problems they feel need to be solved.