Psychologists provide counseling and therapy to a wide range of patients, from children to the elderly. They also work with a wide variety of mental health issues from severe psychosis to more common issues such as anxiety.
Psychologists can also provide testing and recommend treatment for mental disorders. They are not medical doctors, though, and are not allowed to prescribe medications. They may work with a patient’s medical doctor to create a more holistic treatment plan.
Psychologists must, at a minimum, earn a master’s degree in clinical psychology or a related field before they can start practicing.
After earning these degrees, most students go on to earn a doctoral degree as well. This can be a PsyD, which is a practical degree that one must earn to become a counselor, or a PhD, which is geared toward those who are more interested in conducting research.
Some psychologists earn an EdD, too, which is a Doctor of Education. For those who want to work as school psychologists, this is a more common path to take.
It is important for anyone considering becoming a psychologist that they familiarize themselves with the various specialties. An Experimental Psychologist and a Clinical Psychologist are quite different and require different education paths.
The American Psychological Association is the governing body for Psychologists. For a list of APA-Approved programs, click here.
After they complete their degrees, psychologists-to-be must complete an internship or postdoctoral program. This gives them an opportunity to gain hands-on experience in their chosen field.
In most states, 1,500-2,000 hours of practical experience are required, along with 1-2 years of supervised professional training. From here, psychologists can take the state licensing exam (the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology), which is administered by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards.