AskDefine | Define psychologists

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Plural of psychologist

Extensive Definition

A psychologist is an expert in psychology, the systematic investigation of the human body, including behavior, cognition, and affect. Psychologists are usually categorized under a number of mental health professions, the most well-recognized being clinical and counseling psychologists. Doctoral level trained psychologists are also the experts in the provision/administration and interpretation of psychological tests and assessment.

Nature of work

A psychologist studies and applies psychology for the purpose of understanding, preventing, and relieving psychologically-based distress or dysfunction and to promote subjective well-being and personal development. In many countries it is a regulated profession that addresses moderate to more severe or chronic psychological problems, including diagnosable mental disorders. Clinical psychology includes a wide range of practices, such as research, psychological assessment, teaching, consultation, forensic testimony, and program development and administration. Central to clinical and counseling psychology is the practice of psychotherapy, which uses a wide range of techniques to change thoughts, feelings, or behaviors in service to enhancing subjective well-being, mental health, and life functioning. Clinical psychologists can work with individuals, couples, children, older adults, families, small groups, and communities.
When most people think of psychologists they think of Clinical psychology and/or Counseling psychology. However, many psychologists practice in other fields such as experimental psychology, Industrial and organizational psychology and Sport psychology.

Contrast with psychiatrist

In most western countries, including the U.S., licensed/registered psychologists hold a doctorate in their field, while licensed psychiatrists hold a medical degree with a specialty in psychiatry. Psychiatrists are physicians who have earned an MBBS/M.D. or a D.O. professional degree, whereas psychologists have earned a doctoral degree Ph.D., Psy.D., or Ed.D. Psychiatrists generally spend shorter periods of contact time with clients/patients, and the principal method of treatment is psychopharmacology. Conversely, clinical and counseling psychologists generally rely upon psychological assessment and the use of psychotherapy to relieve psychological distress. It is not uncommon for people suffering from mental illness to combine these services to maximize their impact. Medical psychologists in the U.S. military and two states (New Mexico and Louisiana) have prescription privileges, combining psychosocial and psychopharmacological interventions. Many psychologists conduct research-based, standardized cognitive and projective testing to guide the diagnosis of intellectual disabilities, behavioral/mood disorders, and personality disorders; these test results also inform treatment approaches. Administration and interpretation of the majority of these standardized test instruments require specialized Doctoral level training in psychology. Careers in Psychology American Psychological Association.

Education and training

Professional licensing and regulation

United States and Canada

Licensed psychologists, in virtually every jurisdiction and state in Canada and the U.S., are required to have obtained academic doctoral degrees (typically a Ph.D. or Psy.D.). These academic programs typically take four to six years of postgraduate work to complete and offer some combination of rigorous training in research, clinical practice, and the science of psychology. As part of this training, students contribute to the body of scientific research in the form of a dissertation. In this sense, the Ph.D. in professional psychology is a hybrid academic/professional degree (with a greater focus on academics related to clinical practice), and university programs in professional psychology are not only academic but are also training programs typically characterized by rigor and intensity. A Ph.D. psychologist is trained to be both a scientist and practitioner of the profession. Some psychologists have a professional degree in psychology (Psy.D.), which focuses more on clinical practice, and includes similarly rigorous coursework, supervised professional training, internship, and developing the ability to conduct and interpret academic research. The majority of Psy.D. programs also require a dissertation, which can include quantitative or qualitative research, theoretical scholarship, program evaluation or development, critical literature analysis, or clinical application and analysis.

State-by-state exemptions

Similar restrictions apply across the United States, although application of these restrictions varies state-by-state. Most states include exemptions from licensing in order to use the title "psychologist" if they are teaching in universities, or if they are certified by the state's department of education as a school psychologist and are practicing psychology within the scope of their employment in a school district. In most states, self-employed psychologists offering services to the public, whether they are clinical, counseling, school, or industrial psychologists must be licensed, which usually requires an advanced degree, two years of supervised experience, and passing written and oral examinations. Psychologists must also complete one year of a clinical internship, either pre-doctoral or post-doctoral. After receiving the Ph.D. the psychologist must spend an additional year as a "Psychologist Resident" and work under the supervision of a licensed psychologist before they are able to take the written licensing examination. The licensing carries the title of licensed psychologist; Marriage and Family Therapist, or some other title depending upon the state or province, is usually reserved for those who have not obtained the doctorate in psychology and only hold a Master's degree in the fields of professional counseling or Marriage and Family Therapy.

Earnings and employment

These statistics are from the United States Department of Labor (2004) unless noted otherwise.
  • Employed psychologists: 179,000
  • 2/5 self-employed
  • 1/4 employed by educational institutions (in positions other than teaching)
  • Median income for all clinical, counseling, and school psychologists: US $54,950
  • Median income for industrial/organizational psychologists as of 2004: US $71,400
  • Median income for clinical psychologists with Ph.D. level degree (2007): US $85,969 (adjusted for inflation)
  • Median income for clinical psychologists with masters-level qualification. (2001): US $42,000


The title 'psychologist' is also restricted by law. Use of the title is reserved for individuals registered with government regulated Psychologist's Registration Board in each state of Australia. Minimum requirements for registration is an approved four year bachelors degree majoring in psychology and either two years of further accredited study or two years of work supervised by a registered psychologist. In Western Australia, specialist title registration distinguishes between registered psychologists (i.e., four year trained), and specialist psychologists (i.e., with an approved Masters degree). Membership requirements with the Australian Psychological Society is higher than the individual state boards. Restrictions apply to all who want to use the title 'psychologist' in any of its forms. However, the terms 'psychotherapist', 'social worker', and 'counselor' is currently self-regulated with several organizations campaigning for government regulation.

New Zealand

In New Zealand, the use of the title 'psychologist' is restricted by law. Initially, only 'clinical psychologist' and 'registered psychologist' were restricted (to people qualified as such). However, in 2004, the use of psychologist is now limited to only those registered psychologists (including clinical psychologists). This is to prevent the misrepresentation of other psychology qualifications in the mental health field. Academic psychologists (e.g., social psychologists) are now only able to refer to themselves as 'researchers in psychology'.


In Sweden the titles "psychologist" and "licensed psychologist" are restricted in law. It can only be used after receiving a license from government. The basic requirements are a completed five years specialised course in psychology (equivalent of a Master's degree) and one year of practice under supervision. All other uses are banned, though often challenged. "Psychotherapist" follows similar rules but the basic educational demands are another 1.5 years (spread out over three years) at a specialised course in psychotherapy (that do vary a lot concerning theoretical footing), in addition to an academical level degree within a field concerning the treatment of people (psychologist, social worker, psychiatrist a.s.o.). Others than psychologist usually have to complete their education with basic courses in psychotherapy to meet the demands for the applied psychotherapy classes.

United Kingdom

In the U.K. the use of the title "chartered psychologist" is protected by statutory regulation. At present the registration in order to use the title 'psychologist', 'psychotherapist' or 'therapist' is voluntary, in other words it is not required by any Act of Parliament, but the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (U.K.C.P.) is campaigning with other related organizations for the statutory regulation of the 'talking therapy' professions. Only psychotherapists who meet the training requirements of U.K.C.P. and abide by its ethical guidelines are included on the U.K.C.P.'s register of psychotherapists. The Royal College of Psychiatrists and the British Psychological Society are special members of the U.K.C.P.
psychologists in Czech: Psycholog
psychologists in French: Psychologue
psychologists in Hungarian: Pszichológus
psychologists in Indonesian: Psikolog
psychologists in Dutch: Psycholoog
psychologists in Hebrew: פסיכולוג
psychologists in Japanese: 心理学者
psychologists in Russian: Психолог
psychologists in Finnish: Psykologi
psychologists in Swedish: Psykolog
psychologists in Chinese: 心理学家
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1