A psychologist is a practitioner of psychology, the systematic investigation of the mind, including behavior, cognition, and affect. The two major categories of psychologists are those who conduct scientific research and those who work in an applied psychology area. Applied psychologists are further subdivided into a number of mental health and other professions, the most well-recognized being clinical and counseling psychologists. Doctoral level trained psychologists are also the experts in the provision/administration and interpretation of psychological tests and assessment.

Contrast with psychiatrist

In most western countries, including the U.S., licensed/registered psychologists hold a doctorate in their field, while licensed psychiatrists hold a medical degree with a specialty in psychiatry. Psychiatrists are physicians who have earned an MBBS/M.D. or a D.O. professional degree, whereas psychologists have earned a doctoral degree Ph.D., Psy.D., or Ed.D. Psychiatrists generally spend shorter periods of contact time with clients/patients, and the principal method of treatment is psychopharmacology. [eg. (2000) From the President: Psychosocial Competencies by Daniel Borenstein, M.D., American Psychiatric Association, Psychiatric News, 33-34, October 8, 2000.] Conversely, clinical and counseling psychologists generally rely upon psychological assessment and the use of psychotherapy to relieve psychological distress. It is not uncommon for people suffering from mental illness to combine these services to maximize their impact. Psychologists in the U.S. military and two states (New Mexico and Louisiana) have prescription privileges, combining psychosocial and psychopharmacological interventions. Many psychologists conduct research-based, standardized cognitive and projective testing to guide the diagnosis of intellectual disabilities, behavioral/mood disorders, and personality disorders; these test results also inform treatment approaches. Administration and interpretation of the majority of these standardized test instruments require specialized Doctoral level training in psychology. [ [] ]

Professional licensing and regulation

United States and Canada

The American Psychological Association has issued a guideline that only those who hold a Ph.D. or Psy.D. degree in psychology or a closely related field should call themselves psychologists. This of course applies to both research psychology and applied psychology.

Licensed psychologists, in virtually every jurisdiction and state in Canada and the U.S., are required to have obtained academic doctoral degrees (typically a Ph.D. or Psy.D.). These academic programs typically take four to six years of postgraduate work to complete and offer some combination of rigorous training in scientific research and clinical practice. As part of this training, students contribute to the body of scientific knowledge in the form of a dissertation. In this sense, the Ph.D. in professional psychology is a hybrid academic/professional degree (with a greater focus on academics related to clinical practice), and university programs in professional psychology are not only academic but are also training programs typically characterized by rigor and intensity. A Ph.D. psychologist is trained to be both a scientist and practitioner of the profession. Some psychologists have a professional degree in psychology (Psy.D.), which focuses more on clinical practice, and includes similarly rigorous coursework, supervised professional training, internship, and developing the ability to conduct and interpret academic research. The majority of Psy.D. programs also require a dissertation, which can include quantitative or qualitative research, theoretical scholarship, program evaluation or development, critical literature analysis, or clinical application and analysis.

tate-by-state exemptions

Similar restrictions apply across the United States, although application of these restrictions varies state-by-state. Most states include exemptions from licensing in order to use the title "psychologist" if they are teaching in universities, or if they are certified by the state's department of education as a school psychologist and are practicing psychology within the scope of their employment in a school district. In most states, self-employed psychologists offering services to the public, whether they are clinical, counseling, school, or industrial psychologists must be licensed, which usually requires an advanced degree, two years of supervised experience, and passing written and oral examinations. Psychologists must also complete one year of a clinical internship, either pre-doctoral or post-doctoral. After receiving the Ph.D. the psychologist must spend an additional year as a "Psychologist Resident" and work under the supervision of a licensed psychologist before they are able to take the written licensing examination. The licensing carries the title of licensed psychologist; Marriage and Family Therapist, or some other title depending upon the state or province, is usually reserved for those who have not obtained the doctorate in psychology and only hold a Master's degree in the fields of professional counseling or Marriage and Family Therapy.

Earnings and employment

These statistics are from the United States Department of Labor (2004)Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006-07 Edition, Psychologists, on the Internet at (visited October 21, 2007).] unless noted otherwise.
* Employed psychologists: 179,000
* 2/5 self-employed
* 1/4 employed by educational institutions (in positions other than teaching)
* Median income for all clinical, counseling, and school psychologists: US $54,900
* Median income for industrial/organizational psychologists as of 2004: US $71,400
* Median income for clinical psychologists with Ph.D. level degree (2007): US $85,969 (adjusted for inflation)
* Median income for clinical psychologists with masters-level qualification. (2001): US $42,000Salaries in Psychology 2001: Report of the 2001 APA Salary Survey). [] ]


The title 'psychologist' is also restricted by law. Use of the title is reserved for individuals registered with government regulated Psychologist's Registration Board in each state of Australia. Minimum requirements for registration is an approved four year bachelors degree majoring in psychology and either two years of further accredited study or two years of work supervised by a registered psychologist. [eg. [ NSW Psychologist's Registration Board] ] In Western Australia, specialist title registration distinguishes between registered psychologists (i.e., four year trained), and specialist psychologists (i.e., with an approved Masters degree). Membership requirements with the Australian Psychological Society is higher than the individual state boards. Restrictions apply to all who want to use the title 'psychologist' in any of its forms. However, the terms 'psychotherapist', 'social worker', and 'counselor' is currently self-regulated with several organizations campaigning for government regulation. [eg. Australian Counseling Association and Psychotherapy and Counseling Federation of Australia]


In Germany, the use of the title 'Diplom-Psychologe' is restricted by law. Only those are allowed to name themselves "Diplom-Psychologe", who hold the corresponding university degree "Diplom-Psychologe". The degree is equivalent to a master-degree in psychology and is offered after approximately five years full-time education. After the graduation psychologists who have specialised in clinical psychology are eligible to work in hospitals that provide psychological treatment. They are not allowed to offer psychotherapeutical treatment that is covered by compulsory health insurance funds. The offer of health-insurance covered psychotherapy, for example in an own practice, requires a specialized training that normally lasts between three and five years depending on the area chosen (behavioral therapy, psychoanalysis or psychodynamic psychotherapy). The training combines in-depth theoretical knowledge with supervised patient care and self-reflection units. After having completed the training requirements, psychologists take a state-run exam. The pass of the exam allows to hold the official title of a 'psychological psychotherapist' (psychologischer Psychotherapeut) which is exclusively attainable for university-educated psychologists who underwent the psychotherapeutical training named above.

New Zealand

In New Zealand, the use of the title 'psychologist' is restricted by law. Initially, only 'clinical psychologist' and 'registered psychologist' were restricted (to people qualified as such). However, in 2004, the use of psychologist is now limited to only those registered psychologists (including clinical psychologists). This is to prevent the misrepresentation of other psychology qualifications in the mental health field. Academic psychologists (e.g., social psychologists) are now only able to refer to themselves as 'researchers in psychology'.


In Sweden the titles "psychologist" and "practiced psychologist" are restricted in law. It can only be used after receiving a license from the government. The basic requirements are a completed five years specialised course in psychology (equivalent of a Master's degree) and months or even years of practice under supervision. All other uses are banned, though often challenged."Psychotherapist" follows similar rules but the basic educational demands are another 1.5 years (spread out over three years) at a specialised course in psychotherapy (that do vary a lot concerning theoretical footing), in addition to an academical level degree within a field concerning the treatment of people (psychologist, social worker, psychiatrist a.s.o.). Others than psychologist usually have to complete their education with basic courses in psychotherapy to meet the demands for the applied psychotherapy classes.

United Kingdom

In the U.K. the use of the title "chartered psychologist" is protected by statutory regulation. At present the registration in order to use the title 'psychologist', 'psychotherapist' or 'therapist' is voluntary, in other words it is not required by any Act of Parliament, but the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (U.K.C.P.) is campaigning with other related organizations for the statutory regulation of the 'talking therapy' professions. Only psychotherapists who meet the training requirements of U.K.C.P. and abide by its ethical guidelines are included on the U.K.C.P.'s register of psychotherapists. The Royal College of Psychiatrists and the British Psychological Society are special members of the U.K.C.P.

ee also

* List of psychologists
* Psychiatrist
* Mental health professional
* Psychology
* List of psychological topics
* Psychotherapy


External links

* [ The National Psychologist] , an independent bi-monthly newspaper for behavioral healthcare practitioners
* [] Professional links for psychologists and students of psychology.

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