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Psychologists: what they do and how they help people

Psychologists: what they do and how they help people

May 2, 2024

It is not easy to define a psychologist since there are many specializations. But in a summary way, the psychologist is a qualified professional who has received a formal university education in Psychology (Bachelor or Degree in Psychology).

This professional studies, from the scientific point of view, the way how individuals think, feel and behave, and has explanatory models and sufficient knowledge to be able to apply the appropriate tools and techniques for evaluation, diagnosis, treatment and the intervention in the different problems that may arise in different areas: education, organization, clinic, community, among others.

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

Psychologists are not only dedicated to treating psychopathologies

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

On the other hand, we must clarify that not all psychologists are dedicated to the treatment of psychopathologies. For example, sports psychologists can help athletes improve their athletic performance.

What training does a psychologist have?

Psychology is a very broad field that covers different areas of application. Thus, There are certain differences in terms of the educational content of the different countries . For example, the curricular network of most Latin American countries, with a duration of five years, consists of a basic cycle of two years, and from the third year students already specialize in clinical, educational or organizational psychology (the latter , also called industrial).

In contrast, in Spain, the duration of the Degree in Psychology is four years. The specialization is achieved through the different graduate degrees that exist.

The postgraduate degrees can be official or own titles. The first give the option of accessing a PhD.

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

  • Why study Psychology? 10 points that you should value (from the psychologist Bertrand Regader)
  • The 20 best Masters in Psychology
  • The 10 best universities to study Psychology in Spain

It is necessary that psychologists stay updated in their field of practice, for this they can attend seminars and courses to keep abreast of the profession.

What psychologists do and how they help us

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

Then some thematic and problems are shown with which psychologists usually work :

  • Mental health and problems such as depression, anxiety, phobias or schizophrenia
  • Neurological, genetic, psychological and social determinants of behavior
  • Brain injuries and degenerative brain diseases
  • Perception and pain management
  • Psychological factors associated with physical problems and illnesses (for example, diabetes or cancer)
  • Psychological factors associated with terminal illness
  • Cognitive functions such as attention, learning, memory, problem solving and intelligence
  • Psychological development throughout life
  • Criminal behavior, crime prevention, victim assistance and psychological factors related to the criminal and judicial area
  • Use and abuse of addictive substances
  • Psychological well-being: management of emotions and other related aspects (for example, stress)
  • Development and personal growth (for example, realization and goal planning)
  • Factors that influence the maintenance of "wellness", that is, in mental, emotional and physical balance
  • Social and cultural behavior and the relationships between individuals and groups
  • Psychological factors related to performance in organizations and sports

The usefulness of psychologists

What psychologists do has to do with understanding the behavior and mental processes of people, but it also has a very clear applied part. After all, there is little point in understanding something if this knowledge can not be applied. That is why psychology has one aspect of research and another of application of the research.

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

In short, there are numerous professional and academic environments that benefit from the work done by psychologists in their day to day.

Differences between psychologists and psychiatrists

Psychology and psychiatry are two disciplines that are usually confused despite being two different fields of application within the field of mental health.

Some differences between both practices are: psychologists are graduates or graduates in psychology while psychiatrists have studied medicine, both employ different treatments (psychologists can not use drugs, psychiatrists do) or the problems they treat are different. In the latter case, psychologists are not only dedicated to the clinical field, but can work with people who do not suffer from psychopathologies.

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

Where do psychologists work?

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

Although the fields of application of psychology are many, the most known areas are: Clinical Psychology, Educational Psychology and Development, Experimental Psychology, Neuroscience and Social and Organizational Psychology.

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


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