For many, the term ‘psychologist’ refers to a man or woman sitting in an office writing down notes as he/she listens to his/her patients. Sure, there are plenty of psychologists who work as counsellors or therapists, but there are many others who belong to the field of psychology and do a variety of other jobs. In fact, wherever there are people, there is always the role of a psychologist so that outcomes are improved. Today, we are going to shed some light on what does a psychologist do and try to understand how psychologists help describe, explain, predict, and influence human behaviour.
What Does a Psychologist Do?
Generally speaking, psychologists study human behavior and the human mental processes by means of observation, interpretation, and recording how people and animals related to one another and to the environment. For this purpose, the psychologists use scientific methods, procedures, and principles to test their theories and ideas. The main goal of a psychologist is to help increase understanding between individuals, groups, institutions, organizations, nations, and cultures.
Here are some of the specific tasks psychologists perform:
- conduct psychological research
- provide assessment and therapy to their clients
- administer psychological tests to individuals or groups
- help facilitate organizational or social change
In the early days, application of psychology revolved only around protecting people from emotional and physical stress by providing them the necessary mental and social support they needed to handle the psychological perils they faced in their daily lives. Today, psychologist use their skills and knowledge to investigate and resolve a wide range of individual and social issues such as aggression, prejudice, persuasion, attitudes, and interpersonal relationships.
Today, the field of psychology can be divided into several branches; all of which explore the study of ‘mind and behavior’; some of the more known branches of psychology are:
- Clinical Psychology – clinical psychologists are concerned with the assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental illnesses, psychiatric problems, and abnormal behavior.
- Cognitive Psychology – cognitive psychologists are concerned with how the brain processes and utilizes information and how it stores, learns and recognizes it. They investigate how people think, memorize, learn, solve problems, and recognize things.
- Counseling Psychology – counseling psychologists perform almost the same tasks as clinical psychologists, the only difference is that they tend to work with clients who suffer from less severe forms of mental illnesses such as emotional difficulties, psychological disturbances, stress, and behavioral problems.
- Experimental Psychology – experimental psychologist are concerned with performing research on human as well as animal behavior. They usually perform research on topics such a cognitive processes, substance abuse, motivation, genetics, and neuroscience.
- Forensic Psychology – forensic psychologist use their psychological skills and knowledge in the legal and criminal justice system. From offering psychotherapy services to crime victims to acting as a consultant in criminal cases, forensic psychologists help judges, attorneys, and other legal experts better understand the psychological findings of a particular case.
- Social Psychology – social psychologist use their psychological skills and knowledge to better understand how interactions with other people impact individual and group behavior.
As you can see, psychology is a very broad and diverse subject that has practical applications in almost all the major areas of life. Psychologists are working constantly on different aspects of the human mind, human behavior, and mental processes, adding new knowledge to our understanding of how people think, learn, react, and behave in everyday life.