A classification according to the fields of action of mental health professionals.
When people hear the word “psychologist”, they immediately associate it with a man or woman sitting in an office listening and taking notes of what their client says while lying on a couch. This is one of the many myths about the profession of psychologist that can be heard often.
It is clear that there are many psychologists who carry out this type of practice, which is known as psychotherapy. But the fields of applied psychology are many, and therefore, psychologists perform different tasks and functions, and work with different clients: families, organizations, athletes, dogs, among others.
Within the world of psychology there is a great variety of jobs, roles and specialties that do not have to be very similar to each other.
The different kinds of psychologists
Psychologists have varied areas of specialization . Within these, some psychologists are dedicated to the practical field, but also to research or teaching. You will be surprised to know, for example, that there are psychologists who develop their profession in the field of videogames …
As you can see, the areas of application in which psychologists work are multiple, and for this reason, here is a list of the types of psychologists that exist and we explain their main functions . These categories are not mutually exclusive, so it is not uncommon for a person to have the functions of two or even three types of psychologists.
In the same way, the fields of study of two of these types can be the same, taking into account that the psychologists who dedicate themselves to research have a similar formation to many others who are dedicated to intervene on a specific topic, such as we will see.
Types of psychologists to understand this discipline
Next we explain what kinds of psychologists exist and what functions each one performs.
The clinical psychologists assess and treat mental and emotional disorders .
These psychopathologies range from short-term crisis to difficulties that last longer. Some clinical psychologists have specialized in different pathologies: depression, eating disorders, anxiety, personality disorders, etc.
Others focus on specific populations: children, adolescents, drug addicts, among others. Clinical psychology is regulated by law, so it is necessary to have completed an official master’s degree or an opposition (for example, the PIR) to be able to exercise it.
The psychotherapy is a model of clinical intervention that offers psychological support and a number of techniques to improve the quality of life of patients.
Psychotherapy, in most countries, is not regulated by law, and the problems it deals with are not as serious compared to those that clinical psychology usually addresses.
Psychotherapists usually treat everyday problems, problems in interpersonal relationships or emotional problems. For example, difficulties in the couple relationship, or treatment for stress management.
The Educational Psychology bridge between two fields of study: psychology and education . It focuses on the processes involved in learning and on the individuals and roles played by the actors in the educational field, as well as the environment in which this learning takes place.
Thus, the educational psychologist usually works in educational centers (for example, schools) or educational guidance centers. Its functions are varied, and it can work individually, for example in the evaluation and treatment of a child’s learning disorders, or it can work in a multidisciplinary way with other education professionals.
Development psychologists can often work as educational psychologists, since learning is an important part of an individual’s development.
But developmental psychology not only includes children or adolescents in their field of study and application, but also includes old age . Therefore, these professionals can also work in nursing homes.
In western societies there are more and more elderly people, so in recent decades the work of these professionals has become essential.
Experimental psychologists and other researchers
The experimental psychologists conduct tests and experiments to gain new knowledge on different aspects or psychological phenomena . In psychology, however, other methodologies are also used that do not always go through the use of the experimental method, as is the case, for example, in the case studies.
Psychologists who are dedicated to research can have their own training of other types of psychologists, but instead of intervening on subjects or groups, research on these to obtain information with which to test hypotheses or obtain specific data that are entrusted to them.
They can study aspects of basic psychology such as memory , attention, perception or learning processes, among others, but also phenomena linked to a specific context, such as the appearance and propagation of rumors or the generation of specific discourses.
They usually work in universities or public or private research centers, and recently there has been a boom in the interest of companies to hire these professionals, due to the importance of developing R & D programs. Large companies are very interested in issues such as consumer perception of a given product or occupational health issues.