What Do Psychologists Do?

With the rise in demand for mental health care services, many people now seek more information on psychologists and other related disciplines.

But what do psychologists do?

Psychologists apply their set of skills and experience to diagnose and provide solutions to mental, emotional, and behavioral issues. And there’s so much more a psychologist can do to add value to clients and help them lead better lives.

In this article, you will get vital information on what psychologists do, vital qualities they must possess, and so much more.

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What Do Psychologists Do?

Psychologists work to explain a wide range of thoughts, feelings, emotions, and behavior. Professionals in this field use scientific data collection methods to form theories about how people behave and what influences their feelings.

Psychologists also perform the following duties:

  • Interview, survey, and observe individuals for signs of mental, emotional, or behavioral problems
  • Conduct studies of human behavior and brain functions
  • Identify emotional, psychological, organizational, or behavioral issues in patients
  • Diagnosis of mental, psychological, or behavioral disorders
  • Running pattern tests to understand or predict behavior
  • Discuss treatment/therapy routines with patients
  • Write research reports and articles to share psychology-related findings and provide education
  • Supervision and intervention for counselling professionals, interns, and patients
  • Address psychological issues in an organization to improve performance
  • Collaborate with social workers and physicians to treat mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders

Psychologists usually gather data and evaluate behaviors through the following means:

  • Lab experiments
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Psychotherapy
  • Personality/aptitude/intelligence/performance tests

Qualified psychologists can perform several duties not mentioned above and can be useful in many sectors.

How to Become a Psychologist

You can become a psychologist after completing two vital steps – education and licensing.


Psychologists in different specialty areas need a Masters degree at minimum to practice legally. In most cases, advanced level psychologists might require a Psy. D. (Doctor of Psychology), Ph.D., or other certification to practice.

Ph. D.s in psychology are usually research degrees obtained after taking exams and completing a dissertation. Most Ph. D. programs in psychology typically include courses on experimental procedure and statistics.

Psy. D. education typically includes more practical work and exams. Some Psy. D. programs might make a dissertation optional.

Most psychologists also need to complete a 12-month internship program to complete their Psy. D. or Ph. D. education. Psychologists in the health, counselling, and school sectors usually fall in this category.


Psychologists require licenses to practice legally. After attaining mandatory educational qualifications, psychologist must secure the certification suited to their area of specialty.

Psychologists must also register with the appropriate regulatory bodies to practice their profession.

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Where Do Psychologists Work?

Counselling and clinical psychologists are usually in private practice and set up their offices and schedules independently. Psychologists also work in hospitals, rehab facilities, clinics, community centers, and mental health institutions.

Research psychologists typically work in universities, government organizations, or private companies.

School psychologists usually work in the public education sector and can perform duties from nursery schools to colleges. Psychologists in this sector rarely practice independently.

Most psychologists work during the weekdays and some high-demand services might be available during weekends.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Psychologist?

The timeline it takes to become a psychologist usually depends on career interests and the chosen specialty area.

Counselling, research, and clinical psychologists need a doctorate degree to practice. Psychologists can attain the terminal qualification by first getting a bachelor’s degree.

Bachelor’s degrees in psychology usually takes 4 years to secure. In health, school, or clinical psychology, you might have to complete a 1-year internship once or twice.

How long you spend varies, but here’s a look at some common timelines in several sectors:

Specialty Area Bachelor’s Degree Master’s Degree Doctorate Degree Timeline
Child Psychologist Required Required Required 9 to 11 years
Clinical Psychologist Required Required Required 8 to 11 years
Criminal Psychologist Required Required Recommended 6 to 7 years
Forensic Psychologist Required Required Recommended 6 to 7 years
Health Psychologist Required Required Required 8 to 9 years
I/O Psychologist Required Required Not required 6 to 7 years
Licensed Counselor Required Required Not required 6 to 7 years
School Psychologist Required Required Not required 6 to 7 years
Social Psychologist Required Required Required 9 to 11 years
Social Worker Required Recommended Not required 4 years
Sports Psychologist Required Required Not required 6 to 7 years

It’s worth noting that these timelines for completing might change due to several factors.

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Vital Qualities of a Psychologist

Sharp communication skills

A psychologist must have good communication skills to perform essential duties. Sharp communication abilities are vital, as psychologists listen to patients to understand their problems.

Proper communication skills also makes it easy for a psychologist to recommend solutions to patients effectively.


Problems of patients must remain confidential at all times; hence, a psychologist must possess a good level of integrity. Furthermore, patients must trust their psychologist’s expertise towards treating tough problems.

Good interpersonal skills

A psychologist without correct interpersonal skills cannot do much to assist clients. With good interpersonal skills, psychologists can work with patients, clients, and colleagues professionally.

Strong interpersonal skills is another major driver of a psychologist’s spread and client list.

Problem-solving skills

Psychologists must do the following to help patients solve problems:

  • Collect data
  • Design a research model
  • Evaluate problem (determine whether the problem is mental, behavioral, emotional, etc.)
  • Find therapy or alternative solution to problem

All these are impossible to complete without strong problem-solving skills. A psychologist must possess the ability to solve patients problems on time and effectively.

Advanced observational skills

A psychologist cannot do much without being observant. Psychologists need to study patients’ behaviors and attitudes before carrying out research and recommending solutions.

They must study patients’ body positioning, actions, facial expressions, interactions, and other subtle signs. Heightened observational skills makes a psychologist’s diagnosis easy and fast tracks the search for solutions.


Psychologists need to demonstrate an uncommon level of patience to help patients solve their problems. Listening to patients requires a lot of patience, especially for psychologists dealing with severe cases.

Patience is also required to conduct research towards identifying the cause of a patient’s problem and effective solutions.

Strong analytical skills

Psychologists cannot perform without very good analytical skills. A psychologist must be able to examine information retrieved and draw valid conclusions from analyzed data.

Several disciplines related to psychology require strong analytical know-how to perform vital duties.

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Reasons to Consult a Psychologist

Several reasons might make it essential to consult a qualified psychologist. You should consider contacting a psychologist if you experience the following:

  • You need a caring, unbiased individual or group to help ease emotional stress and recommend solutions
  • Your association with friends, coworkers, or family is heavily affected by how you currently feel about everything
  • You struggle to handle issues like work problems, illness, financial strain, or the death of a relative or partner
  • Constant alcohol and drug use interferes with your relationships, emotions, health and responsibilities
  • A feeling of hopelessness creeps in frequently; life is no longer attractive
  • You frequently experience uncontrollable emotions, thoughts or behavior

Median Annual Wages of Psychologists

These are median annual wages of some major specialty areas in psychology:

  • Career and School Counselor – $70,700
  • Social Worker – AU$70,800
  • School Psychologist – AU$78,300
  • School Counselor – AU$80,600
  • Industrial Psychologist – AU$130,200
  • Marriage/Family Therapists – AU$70,100
  • Clinical Psychologist – AU$107,400
  • Developmental Psychologist – AU$86,100
  • Forensic Psychologist – AU$92,900
  • Health Psychologist – AU$107,350
  • Neuropsychologist – AU$127,500
  • Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors – AU$64,900
  • Sports Psychologist – AU$92,600
  • Psychiatrist – AU$254,300

The estimates above might be different based on several factors like location, experience, specialty area, etc. These averages may also be very different from expected pay for psychologists in locations outside Australia.

Job Outlook for Psychologists

Psychology is expected to add thousands of new jobs within the decade according to several estimates.

School, industry, clinical, and counselling psychology are projected to add more jobs than other sectors due to their high demand.

School psychology has seen increased demand in recent years as findings show learning ability and mental health are linked. Psychologists in this sector are also effective in assisting students whose behavioral, development, and educational issues limit their learning ability.

Industry psychologists are vital in the industrial and organizational space to help in human resources management. These psychologists are also useful in organizations to resolve conflicts, implement training programs, improve office morale and much more.

Clinical and counselling psychologists will also get an increase in demand due to their massive contribution to mental health and overall wellbeing. Psychologists in this area help patients manage challenges with their mental health through therapy, counselling, or pharmaceutical intervention.

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Dave P
Dave P
Be a little better today than yesterday.


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