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The Work and Education of Psychologists

Psychologists are professionals with the medical training and skill to provide assistance to individuals who have troubles coping with their life issues and those who are suffering from mental health problems. Psychologists help others by means of various modern techniques and by considering their values, circumstances, characteristics, and goals.

Psychologists may be needed by a person who is depressed, anxious, and angry for a long period of time in order to help him cope with his condition. They may also help individuals who are suffering from a serious mental condition that is interfering either with his physical health or with his own life and which requires immediate attention. Or they may help those who need to overcome their feelings such as grief for the death of a loved one or being overwhelmed by one's success. Psychologists can help others learn to deal with addictions, stressful situations, and chronic illnesses.

Psychologists may administer and explain tests and assessments designed to identify a person's mental condition or find out how an individual thinks, behaves, and feels. Such tests are used to evaluate cognitive strengths and weaknesses, intellectual skills, vocational aptitude and preference, neuropsychological functioning and personality characteristics.

In order to improve the lives of people, psychologists make use of various evidence-based treatments. The most common treatment they use is psychotherapy. There are various types of therapy, and the one that the psychologist will use depends on the patient's problem, characteristics and preferences. Some of the most commonly used therapies are behavioral, cognitive, cognitive-behavioral, humanistic, psychodynamic, and interpersonal. A therapy can be used for an individual, a family, a couple, or other group.

There are conditions in which a therapy works best when combined with medication. In such cases, the psychologist will have to work with a patient's primary care physician, psychiatrist, and paediatrician for the overall treatment.  There are states in the US where licensed psychologists who have had a supplementary specialized training are authorized by the government to prescribe medications to improve a patient's emotional and mental health problems.

Training for Psychologists

A person who has completed an undergraduate study and desires to practice psychology has to spend 4-6 years to earn a doctoral degree in psychology. Areas of study include statistics, ethics, and individual differences, cognitive-affective, biological and social bases of behavior. They also receive training on psychological assessment and therapy. While pursuing their doctoral degree, psychology students may also take part in research or work as a teacher. Prior to graduation, they need to complete a full-time supervised internship for one year and in most states they may be required to complete another year of supervised practice prior to licensure. Psychologists have to pass both the national examination and the state examination where they intend to practice their profession. Even after obtaining the license to practice, psychologists are required by the state's license and regulations to earn quite a few hours of continuing education each year. Psychologists who are working in states where they can prescribe medications must undergo an advanced training after licensure.