A Guide to Psychologists: What They Do and How They Can Help

Psychologists are titans of the mental health field. As a provider who can help clients address a wide range of issues, it’s important to know how and why psychologists are able to help with both mental health conditions and other challenges like relationship issues and grief. 

From child psychologists to clinical psychologists, it’s likely that if you’re seeking assistance, a psychologist can help. Learn more about this unique provider type and take an in-depth glance at the field of psychology.

What Is a Psychologist? 

Psychologists are mental health professionals who have undergone rigorous training and typically hold advanced degrees in the field of mental health. Psychologists are adeptly skilled at helping people to cope with the effects of a variety of mental health conditions, including: 

  • Depression 
  • Anger
  • Chronic stress
  • ADHD 
  • Addiction, substance abuse disorders
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Dysfunctional relationship dynamics 
  • Academic-related issues
  • And many other conditions 

Because of their training and experience, psychologists are perhaps the most widely applicable mental health professional to choose from. From couples having consistent fights, to teens struggling with their studies, psychologists can lend a helping hand. They partner with clients, creating and identifying a path to success that the client may not have noticed on their own.

There are numerous and distinct types of psychologists—but most clients are typically paired with clinical or counseling psychologists, who, like their name suggests, work in clinical settings, with a variety of clients. Other prominent types of psychologists include school psychologists who assist with academic-related issues, and counseling psychologists, who excel at using a plethora of different therapeutic techniques. 

What Do Psychologists Do?

Psychologists excel at helping everyday individuals, including children, teens, adults, and seniors to better manage and cope with the effects of mental health conditions. Everyone’s mental health needs will vary, so determining what will best help a client is essential to successful treatment. Though the factors that lead someone to seek a psychologist’s help may vary, the following are common:

  • Someone who is feeling overwhelmed at their new job
  • Someone who is feeling chronically depressed or anxious
  • Someone who is exhibiting symptoms of another mental health condition
  • Someone who is struggling with uncontrollable anger
  • Someone who is grieving the loss of a close friend or family member
  • Someone who has experienced a traumatic event

If you decide to work with a Thriveworks psychologist, they will cater treatment to you and your needs. In other words, they will first understand what you need from them and how they can best help you. Then, they will use their skills, training, and experience to develop an effective and individualized treatment plan for you.

These professionals use many different treatment methods, including but not limited to:

When Should Someone See a Psychologist?

Like psychiatrists, psychologists often work in hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, nursing homes, private practices, and rehabs. These professionals, however, often are not qualified to prescribe medication. That said, state laws in Idaho, Iowa, Illinois, Louisiana, and New Mexico do allow psychologists to prescribe medication if they receive additional credentials.

However, most psychologists rely on talk therapy (usually CBT) to help their clients. This is traditional in-person counseling that requires the client to talk to their therapist about their challenges. Over time, and with their psychologist’s help, the client can begin to better manage their specific problems.

What Are Child Psychologists? 

Some psychologists specialize in helping children. These professionals are simply called child psychologists. When they meet with young individuals, they assess many different areas of functioning. They look at the child’s mental and emotional health as well as their behavior, their academic abilities, and more.

Getting to know a child in this comprehensive way allows them to best understand their needs. Children experience unique challenges, which often need to be addressed in child therapy. Here are a few common challenges among children and adolescents:

  • Learning disorders
  • Behavioral problems
  • Conduct disorders
  • Academic-related problems 
  • ADHD
  • Trauma
  • Bullying
  • Eating disorders 

If your child is struggling with an item on the list above, it’s important to talk to a professional. A psychologist who specializes in child psychology can assess your child and their needs. They can then offer the right treatment that addresses their specific problem(s).

Psychologists vs. Psychiatrists: What’s the Difference?

Many people mistake psychologists and psychiatrists for each other. While their roles and practices might intersect, they do have different backgrounds in education and training.

As discussed above, psychologists often receive Master’s degrees and Doctoral degrees in psychology. They then focus on helping their clients with their mental health challenges, often using talk therapy and other forms of therapy. 

Psychiatrists, on the other hand, are medical doctors who specialize in psychiatry. Psychiatrists can: 

  • Utilize talk therapy as needed
  • Prescribe helpful medication 
  • Treat more severe or persistent mental health conditions, including mood disorders and major depression
  • Meet virtually

Meet Virtually with a Psychologist 

At Thriveworks, you can also receive online psychological counseling and therapy. This might entail meeting with your psychologist online, over the phone, or by video. Both of these options are effective and will enable you to receive the same quality time with your psychologist—virtually. 

Receiving psychological help online improves access to mental health care as well. Many people cannot or do not schedule mental health services because they can’t find a day or time that they can make it into the office. 

With online psychology services, you won’t have to worry about: 

  • Anxiety attached to meeting a provider in person. Many individuals feel more inclined to open up to their providers about how they are feeling and what they are experiencing. While we foster a safe space free of judgment at all of our offices, many people still feel more comfortable working with their psychologists in a virtual setting.
  • Finding time to prioritize your needs: You can receive mental health help while working from home or looking after family members. 

And if you would still rather meet with your psychologist in person, that’s okay too. Thriveworks offers both in-person and online psychology services.