The 12 types of psychologists (and what functions they perform)

When people hear the word “psychologist” they it is usually associated with a man or woman sitting in a listening desk and take notes of what his client tells him while lying on a sofa. This is one of the many myths surrounding the profession of psychologist that we often hear.

It is clear that there are many psychologists who carry out this type of practice, which is called psychotherapy. But the fields of applied psychology are numerous, and therefore psychologists perform different tasks and functions, and work with different clients: families, organizations, athletes, dogs, among others.

In the world of psychology, there are a wide variety of jobs, roles, and specialties that don’t have to be much alike.

The different classes of psychologists

psychologists they have various fields of specialization. Within these, certain psychologists are engaged in the practical field, but also in research or teaching. You will be surprised to know, for example, that there are psychologists who are developing their profession in the field of video games …

As you can see, there are many areas of application in which psychologists work, and for this reason we explain below a list of the types of psychologists that exist and we have explained their main functions. These categories are not mutually exclusive, so it is not uncommon for a person to have functions typical of two or even three types of psychologists.

Likewise, the fields of study of two of these types may be the same, since psychologists engaged in research have similar training to many others engaged in intervention on a specific subject, as we will see. .

12 types of psychologists to understand this discipline

Below we explain what classes of psychologists exist and what functions each perform.

1. Clinical psychologists

Clinical psychologists assess and treat mental and emotional disorders.

These psychopathologies range from short-term seizures to difficulties that last longer. Some clinical psychologists have specialized in different pathologies: depression, eating disorders, anxiety, personality disorders, etc. Others focus on specific populations: children, adolescents, drug addicts, among others. Clinical psychology is regulated by law, so you must have completed an official master’s degree or exam (for example, the PIR) to practice it.

2. Psychotherapists

Psychotherapy is a clinical intervention model offering psychological support and a number of techniques to improve the quality of life of patients.

Psychotherapy, in most countries, is not regulated by law and the problems it treats are not of the same severity as those usually treated in clinical psychology. Psychotherapists often deal with everyday problems, problems in interpersonal relationships or emotional issues. For example, relationship difficulties or treatment for stress management.

3. Educational psychologists

Educational psychology acts as a bridge between two fields of study: psychology and education. It focuses on the processes involved in learning and individuals and on the roles played by actors in the educational field, as well as on the environment in which this learning takes place.

Thus, the educational psychologist usually works in educational centers (eg schools) or educational guidance centers. His duties are varied and he can work individually, for example in the assessment and treatment of a child’s learning disabilities, or he can work in a multidisciplinary manner with other education professionals.

4. Developmental psychologists

Developmental psychologists can often work as educational psychologists because learning is an important part of an individual’s development.

But developmental psychology this not only includes children or adolescents in their field of study and application, but also includes old age. Therefore, these professionals can also work in geriatrics. There are more and more older people in Western societies, which is why in recent decades the work of these professionals has become essential.

5. Experimental psychologists and other researchers

Experimental psychologists perform tests and experiments to gain new knowledge about different psychological aspects or phenomena. In psychology, however, other methodologies are also used which do not always involve the use of the experimental method, as is the case, for example, in case studies.

Research psychologists may have their own training with other types of psychologists, but instead of intervening on topics or groups, they research them to obtain information to test hypotheses or obtain insights. specific data for which they are responsible. They can study aspects of basic psychology such as memory, attention, perception or learning processes, among others, but also phenomena related to a given context, such as the appearance and propagation of rumors or the generation of specific speeches.

They usually work in universities or public or private research centers, and companies’ interest in hiring these professionals has recently increased, due to the importance of developing R&D programs. Large companies are very interested in issues such as the perception of a particular product, or in occupational health issues.

6. Neuropsychologists

A neuropsychologist is a professional dedicated to neuropsychology.

To be able to work in this field, you must have a bachelor’s or degree in psychology, as well as a postgraduate degree in this specialty. Sometimes it is usually clinical psychologists or experimental psychologists who fill these positions, as many neuropsychologists are engaged in research. In the applied field, they can work, for example, in the cognitive, behavioral and emotional rehabilitation of a patient with brain damage, or in the early diagnosis and intervention in dementias.

7. Social psychologists

Social psychologists they study and work on human behavior and psychological factors affecting the social, community or group environment.

They are interested in aspects such as interpersonal, intragroup and intergroup relations. They are also interested in issues such as culture, prejudices or attitudes towards other individuals and develop programs for groups, for excluded minorities, for disadvantaged groups, among others. Professionals dedicated to the study of political psychology and cultural psychology can also be included here, and it is also normal to find people with background in anthropology and gender studies in this category.

8. Organizational and occupational psychologists

Organizational and occupational psychologists they apply psychological methods and principles in the work and organizational environment.

Their tasks are varied, but they generally work in personnel selection, training, occupational health or development departments. They also participate in performance evaluations or studies to find out the level of consumer satisfaction. In addition, in the work environment, certain psychological variables such as motivation or leadership are particularly important.

9. Forensic and forensic psychologists

Forensic psychologists they apply the psychological principles to legal aspects. His experience is essential before the courts. They can, for example, help a judge decide which father should have custody of a child by providing useful information or by assessing the mental competence of an accused during a trial.

Forensic psychologists are not the same as forensic psychologists. To better understand the difference between the two fields of application of psychology, we invite you to read our article: “Differences between criminal psychology and forensic psychology”.

10. Sports psychologists

Although the work of the sports psychologist is not known to many people, few people doubt the importance of psychological factors in sports performance. Sports psychologists work with the athlete, with the coach, with the team and with the entire organization to maximize the potential of the team the athlete. Some of the psychological variables we work on are: self-efficacy, attention, motivation, level of activation or stress. But they also work on the interpersonal relationships of athletes, the influence of the environment or communication.

To learn more about the work of a sports psychologist, you can click on this article: “10 reasons to put a sports psychologist in your life”.

11. Sexologists

The sex therapists are professionals who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of psychological disorders that affect intimate relationships individuals (for example, erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation).

They are also responsible for educating patients on aspects related to healthy sexuality.

12. Other fields of application

But it doesn’t end there, so there are psychology professionals who work in smaller application areas: Traffic and road safety psychology, marketing psychology, psychology applied to video games, psychology applied to nutrition, group psychology, canine psychology, coaching …

In short, psychology is a field that has obvious links with any economic, social and medical field, and it is for this reason that the profession of psychologist can find very varied specializations and applications.

Beyond the types of psychologists

It should be noted that beyond how we classify the different types of psychologists, they all perform a fundamentally equal task: the study of behavior and mental processes and the application of this new knowledge in areas such as as psychology, clinic, education, etc.

That is to say that all of them, from their different fields of action, they help us better understand who we are and how we can change.

Bibliographical references:

  • Gadenne, V. (2006). Philosophy of psychology. Spain: Herder.
  • Morris, Charles (1997). Introduction to psychology (ninth edition). Prentice Hall.
  • Myers, David G. (2005). Psychology. Mexico: Pan-American medicine.
  • Papalia, D. and Wendkos, S. (1992). Psychology. Mexico: McGraw-Hill.
  • Santamaría Ambriz, Rocío (2002). “On the psychoanalytic method of research.” University magazine.

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