Psychology is the study of the human mind as well as human behavior. Therefore when you ask the question of ‘what does a psychologist do?‘, you can immediately see that there is a massive amount of scope for that answer.
Possibly the easiest way to answer this question is to divide the job of psychologist into two broad categories and then work down from there.
So in general if you ask what do psychologists do, you can say that they either treat people who are suffering from various problems of the mind, or they undertake research into these problems and behaviors
Psychologists Who Treat Patients
In the majority of cases when someone is asking about the sort of work done by psychologists, they’re referring those psychologists that offer treatment to patients.
While they understand the idea of a psychologist offering treatment, the details of the sort of treatments are less well understood. So what does a psychologist do to help patients with mental illnesses and disorders.
Well the first thing they are usually called on to do is diagnose the problem. Because of the wide range of problems of the mind this can often be a difficult task. Some problems are related to brain chemistry others are the result of various traumas both physical and mental, and some are the result of various behavior patterns that have built up over years.
Once a problem has been diagnosed, the next step is to create some sort of plan for the treatment of that problem. This plan will include one or all of the following tools: counseling, psychotherapy and medication.
It’s important to note that a psychologist does not prescribe medication. If they think their patient may benefit from some sort of prescription drugs they will refer them to a psychiatrist who is the one who does the prescribing.
Within the various types of psychologistswho provide some sort of treatment there are a range of distinct specialties. Many of these specialties you will have heard of before such as child psychologists or sports psychologists, while others may be less familiar such as as rehabilitation psychologists, or forensic psychologists.
There are also psychologists who choose to specialize in particular illnesses or disorders like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression or addiction.
Psychologists Who Undertake Research
The other general area in which many psychologists work is research. So what does a psychologist do in the research field? What are they studying and why are they studying it.
As mentioned above, psychology is the study of the mind and human behavior, so when psychologists are undertaking research they are attempting to learn more about the human mind, why it malfunctions, what influences our behaviors and so on.
There are a wide range of areas where psychologists are currently undertaking research, but some of the more common areas include.
- Human behavior and how it is influenced by our social interactions.
- How humans learn.
- How humans make decisions.
- How the human brain develops in children.
- How evolution has shaped various primal behaviors in humans such as mating and aggression
Then there is a multitude of research being done into the various mental illnesses and disorders – what causes them, how they can be treated and potentially how they could be eradicated entirely.
As as you can see there is no simple answer to the question of what do psychologists do. Some do research into causes and treatments of mental disorders, others help treat those problems.
But that barely begins to explore all the different options you could choose from if you wanted to have a career in psychology, meaning that you should easily be able to find an area of interest if you chose that career path.