Psychologists: what they do and how they help people

It is not easy to define a psychologist as there are many specializations. But in short, the psychologist is a qualified professional who has received formal university training in psychology (Diploma or diploma in psychology).

This professional studies, from a scientific point of view, the way in which individuals think, feel and behave, and has explanatory models and sufficient knowledge to be able to apply the appropriate tools and techniques for the assessment. , the diagnosis, the treatment and the intervention in the various problems which can appear in various fields: education, organization, clinic, community, among others.

Sometimes psychologists also work to improve the performance or potential of an organization or individual.

Psychologists are not only engaged in the treatment of psychopathologies

As we can see, the definition of a psychologist is complex. But we can say that this it deals with certain aspects of human behavior, such as thinking, emotions, behavior and interpersonal relationships to help other people or groups better understand and respond to psychological and relationship needs so that they can enjoy greater psychological well-being.

On the other hand, it should be clarified that not all psychologists are engaged in the treatment of psychopathologies. For example, sports psychologists can help athletes improve their athletic performance.

What is the training of a psychologist?

Psychology is a very broad field which covers different fields of application. For that, there are some differences in the training content of different countries. For example, the curriculum network of most Latin American countries, lasting five years, consists of a two-year basic cycle, and from the third year, students already specialize in clinical, educational or organizational psychology (the latter, also called industrial).

In Spain, on the other hand, the duration of the degree in psychology is four years. Specialization is obtained through the different postgraduate degrees that exist.

Postgraduate degrees can be official or own degrees. The first give the possibility of obtaining a doctorate.

If you want to know more about psychology training, you can check out our articles:

  • Why study psychology? 10 points to note (by psychologist Bertrand Regader)
  • The 20 best masters in psychology
  • The 10 Best Universities to Study Psychology in Spain

Psychologists must remain as they are in their field of practice, in order to be able to attend seminars and courses to keep up with the evolution of the profession.

What psychologists do and how they help us

Psychologists are engaged in researching the practice and teaching a wide range of topics related to human thinking, emotions, and behavior. They work with people individually, with groups (like families or sports teams) and organizations. Some psychologists also work with animals. For example, with dogs.

Then some topics and problems that psychologists usually work with are presented:

  • Mental health and problems such as depression, anxiety, phobias or schizophrenia
  • Neurological, genetic, psychological and social determinants of behavior
  • Brain damage and degenerative brain diseases
  • Pain perception and management
  • Psychological factors associated with physical problems and illnesses (eg diabetes or cancer)
  • Psychological factors associated with terminal illnesses
  • Cognitive functions such as attention, learning, memory, problem solving and intelligence
  • Lifelong psychological development
  • Criminal behavior, crime prevention, victim support and psychological factors related to criminal and judicial matters
  • Consumption and abuse of addictive substances
  • Psychological well-being: management of emotions and other related problems (eg. Stress)
  • Personal development and growth (eg, goal setting and planning)
  • Factors influencing the maintenance of “well-being”, ie mental, emotional and physical balance
  • Social and cultural behavior and relationships between individuals and groups
  • Psychological factors linked to performance in organizations and in sport

The usefulness of psychologists

What psychologists do has to do with understanding people’s behavior and mental processes, but it also has a very clear applied part. After all, there is little point in understanding something if this knowledge cannot be applied. This is why psychology has a research side and an application side of what is sought.

In the first area we find, for example, psychologists who study perception and decision making, and in the applied part is that part of the psychological community that applies this knowledge to psychotherapy, to marketing psychology, etc.

In short, there are many professional and academic environments that benefit from the work of psychologists in their daily lives.

Differences between psychologists and psychiatrists

Psychology and psychiatry are two disciplines often confused although these are two different fields of application in the field of mental health.

Some differences between the two practices are as follows: psychologists have a degree or diploma in psychology while psychiatrists have studied medicine, the two use different treatments (psychologists cannot use drugs, psychiatrists do) or the issues they deal with are different. In the latter case, psychologists are not only engaged in the clinical field, but can work with people who do not suffer from psychopathologies.

If you want to know more data between the two disciplines, you can read this post: “What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?”.

Where do psychologists work?

psychologists they work in different places because there are many areas of application. Some work in schools, others in organizations, others in private clinics and still others in prisons. Some psychologists can even practice their profession as researchers and others as teachers.

Although the fields of application of psychology are numerous, the most well-known fields are: clinical psychology, educational and developmental psychology, experimental psychology, neuroscience, and social and organizational psychology.

In addition to these areas, psychologists may specialize in: forensic psychology, sports psychology, psychology applied to nutrition, criminal psychology, legal psychology, sexology, or coaching.

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