What does a psychologist do?

Psychologists provide counseling and therapy to those suffering from emotional, learning, or behavioral problems. Psychologists may work in a variety of settings, including schools, clinics, hospitals, private practice, colleges and universities, corporations, and government. They study behavior, cognitive functioning, and emotions to understand, compare, and explain people’s actions. There are clinical and counseling psychologists. Counseling psychologists study career development and also counsel people regarding career and educational choices. Educational and school psychologists do assessments to help diagnose problems school-aged children may have in regard to learning. There also are cognitive psychologists who study cognition and artificial intelligence.

What might a psychologist do in a workday?

  • diagnose and treat psychological problems.
  • collect data through interviews, case histories, and observation.
  • develop, select, administer, and interpret psychological tests, surveys and experiments.
  • counsel individuals, groups, and couples.
  • confer with parents, teachers, counselors, administrators, and others.
  • follow up to determine the effectiveness of treatment.
  • conduct research.
  • develop and evaluate mental health programs.
  • consult with social, educational, medical, or other agencies.
  • write for professional and trade journals or other media.
  • teach in colleges and universities.
  • evaluate and consult with organizations.

Developing a career as a psychologist?

Clinical and counseling psychologists may specialize in teaching, research, therapy, counseling, rehabilitation, community health, physiology, and psychopharmacology. They may choose to concentrate their work on a specific age group or psychological problem.

  • Clinical psychologists evaluate, diagnose, and treat mentally and emotionally disturbed people and are concerned with preventing and treating mental and emotional disorders.
  • Educational psychologists design, develop, and evaluate techniques and materials to solve problems in education/training programs.
  • School psychologists work with average, gifted, and physically or mentally challenged students.
  • Psychometrists or quantitative psychologists develop and implement intelligence, aptitude, achievement, and other tests and analyze results.
  • Developmental psychologists investigate emotional, mental, physical, and social growth and development.
  • Social psychologists study human relationships to understand individual and group feeling, thought, and behavior.
  • Experimental psychologists plan, conduct, and analyze experiments in human and animal learning, thinking, motivation, and perception.
  • Industrial-organizational psychologists develop and apply psychological techniques to personnel administration, management, and marketing problems.

How much does a psychologist earn?

  • $45,000 - $70,000

How do I become a psychologist?

Students interested in becoming psychologists should prepare by taking challenging high school courses in science, math, and English, including advanced placement courses.

Licensed psychologists must have a doctorate in psychology from an accredited university with training in the area(s) of intended practice. Those who want to specialize in clinical services also must complete two years of supervised postdoctoral experience and one year of internship (or two years of part-time experience). Applicants must pass two written examinations as required by the certifying board. School psychologists must hold at least a master’s degree.

Where else can I learn about becoming a psychologist?

American Psychological Association, Society of Clinical Psychology
750 First St. N.E. / Washington, DC 20002-4242
tel: (800) 374-2721 / web: www.apa.org

American Academy of Clinical Psychology
P. O. Box 700341 / San Antonio, TX 78270-0341
tel: (909) 626-5579 / web: www.aacpsy.org

State License Requirements for Psychologists:

A license is required to practice psychology in the Commonwealth of Virginia. For more information on licensure, applications, and forms, visit www.dhp.virginia.gov/Psychology.

Virginia Board of Psychology
Perimeter Center
9960 Mayland Drive, Suite 300 / Henrico, Virginia 23233-1463
tel: (804) 367-4697 / Email: psy@dhp.virginia.gov

Educational Institutions in Virginia for Social Work: