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

This is a general article describing the qualifications etc of psychologists. For details on particular psychologists see:

Lists by speciality

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.

Contrast with psychiatrist

Main article: Psychiatrist

In the U.S., licensed 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 MD or a DO professional degree, whereas psychologists have earned a doctor's degree PhD, PsyD, or EdD. The Ph.D. is the highest required doctoral degree awarded by universities. The term "Doctor" means "Teacher of Teachers" or "Learned Professional." Psychiatrists generally spend shorter periods of contact time with clients/patients, and the principal method of treatment is psychopharmacology.[How to reference and link to summary or text] 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. 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. [1] Careers in Psychology American Psychological Association

Professional licensing and regulation

See List of credentials in psychology, Professional licensing, Profession certification

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 PhD or PsyD). 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. Licensed psychologists can contribute to scientific research in the form of a dissertation. In this sense, the PhD 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 to be both a scientist and practitioner of the profession. Some psychologists have a professional degree in psychology (PsyD), which focuses more on clinical practice, and include similarly rigorous coursework, supervised professional training, internship, and developing the ability to conduct and interpret academic research. The majority of PsyD 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. [2] Careers in Psychology American Psychological Association

Earnings and employment

These statistics are from the United States Department of Labor (2004)[3] 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 (2001): US $72,000[4]
  • Median income for clinical psychologists with masters-level qualification. (2001): US $42,000[4]


Within Australia, 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.[5] 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 organization campaigning for government regulation.[6]

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 title "psychologist" and "licensed psychologist" are restricted in law. It can be used after receiving a licence from government. The basic requirements are a completed five years specialised course in psychology (equalling a "master") and 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 concering theoretical footing), on top of 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 basical courses in psychotherapy to meet the applicational demands for the psychtherapy 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 is campaigning with other related organisations for the statutory regulation of the 'talking therapy' professions. Only psychotherapists who meet the training requirements of UKCP and abide by its ethical guidelines are included on the UKCP's register of psychotherapists. The Royal College of Psychiatrists and the British Psychological Society are special members of the UKCP.

Areas of specialization

Spoken Psychology Wiki

See also


  1. eg. (2007) [1]
  2. eg. (2007) [2]
  3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006-07 Edition, Psychologists, on the Internet at (visited October 21, 2007).
  4. 4.0 4.1 Salaries in Psychology 2001: Report of the 2001 APA Salary Survey). [3]
  5. eg. NSW Psychologist's Registration Board
  6. eg. Australian Counseling Association and Psychotherapy and Counseling Federation of Australia

External links



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