What is a Psychologist?

A psychologist is someone who studies the mind and behaviour. While people often think of talk therapy when they hear the word psychologist, this profession actually encompasses a wide range of specialty areas including such things as animal research and organizational behaviour.

The term psychologist can apply to people who:

  • Use psychological knowledge and research to solve problems, such as treating mental illnesses; or
  • Work as social scientists to conduct psychological research and teach at colleges or universities

Types of Psychologists

While there are many different types of psychologists, they typically fall into one of three different areas:

  • Applied Psychologists utilize psychological principles and research to solve real-world problems. Examples include aviation psychologists, engineering psychologists, industrial-organizational psychologists and human factors psychologists.
  • Research Psychologists conduct studies and experiments with human or animal participants. Research psychologists often work for universities, private businesses or government entities. Their research may focus on a wide range of specialty areas within psychology, including cognition, neuroscience, personality, development and social behavior.
  • Mental Health Psychologists work with people suffering from mental disorders or psychological distress. They often work in hospitals, mental health clinics, schools, government offices or private practices. Examples of mental health psychologists include clinical psychologists, counseling psychologists and school psychologists.

What is the Difference Between a Psychiatrist and Psychologist?

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor with special training in psychiatry who is able to conduct psychotherapy and prescribe medications and other medical treatments.

A psychologist usually has an advanced degree, most commonly in clinical psychology, and often has extensive training in research.  Psychologists treat mental disorders with psychotherapy and some specialize in psychological testing and evaluation.


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