What do Registered Psychologists do?

Psychologists see people of all ages and may work with individuals, couples, families, or groups. Psychologists also work with organizations, companies, and government agencies. Many psychologists focus on psychological treatment; however others provide both treatment and assessment services, while others provide only specialized assessment services for rehabilitation or court related purposes.

Since many psychologists have specialized training and knowledge to deal with particular issues, it can be important to make sure that you find the right psychologist to help you with your particular concern. Some of these specialized areas in which psychologists train and work are:

  • Clinical psychology – the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental illness and emotional disorders;
  • Counseling psychology – working with behavioral, emotional, personality, and relationship issues;
  • Neuropsychology – assessing the effects associated with injuries to the brain or the central nervous system;
  • Rehabilitation psychology – dealing with cognitive, behavioral, and emotional issues associated with injury and physical disabilities;
  • Child psychology – dealing with the behavioral, emotional, and other related issues of childhood;
  • Geriatric psychology – assessing and working with the behavioral, emotional, cognitive, and other issues associated with aging;
  • Forensic psychology – issues associated with the justice system which may include criminal behavior or specialized assessments for the court;
  • Industrial/Organizational psychology – relating to personnel selection and training, work and job design, staff development, managing organizational change and relocation, or consumer behavior.

Within the above areas, psychologists typically work in assessment, treatment, and consultative roles, and seek to maximize and enhance people's emotional health and well-being. 

Psychological Treatment

If you are participating in psychological treatment, a session with a psychologist typically lasts about 50 minutes. Session length may vary depending on the individual psychologist, your needs, and the kind of activities being done. During assessment and treatment, the psychologist works to help you better understand your thoughts, emotional experience, and behaviors, and to find healthy solutions to problems. Special procedures or techniques may be used, depending on the psychologist’s training and theoretical orientation. Psychological testing may be done to provide additional information.

Psychological treatment may take place over a relatively short period of time, or over an extended period of time, depending upon your individual needs and preferences.

Psychological Assessment

If you, your child, or your family is having an assessment done, the psychologist can advise you as to how much time your particular assessment is likely to take. It could be as little as a couple of hours, or could take place over two or more days, depending on the complexity of the issue, the number of people interviewed, the ability of those tested to work with the process, and so on. At the end of the assessment, the psychologist will write a comprehensive report. How the report is distributed, that is, who gets a copy, will depend upon who requested the report and the permission you provide. Because situations will vary, you should ask the psychologist about the expected sharing of information.

Consultation

Psychologists can also work as consultants for government bodies, the private sector, or individuals. Consulting may pertain to creating and evaluating research for mental health programs, investigating disability claims, or providing expert opinions in a variety of settings.