A psychologist is a scientist who studies psychology, the systematic investigation of human behavior and mental processes. Unlike psychiatrists, psychologists are not medical doctors and hence, generally, cannot obtain a license to prescribe medications. While many psychologists study and treat the mentally ill, a larger number study healthy people of all ages in their efforts to discover the factors that affect how human beings think, feel, and act in different situations. Ultimately, the purpose of psychologists is to understand human nature, and thus to help people overcome difficulties and fulfill their potential as true human beings.
Psychologists are usually categorized under a number of different fields, the most well-recognized being clinical psychologists, who provide mental health care, and research psychologists, who investigate and analyze various aspects of human behavior. Psychologists also work in many other applied fields.
Clinical and counseling psychologists diagnose and evaluate mental and emotional disorders, using psychological tests and interviews. They use tools such as psychotherapy and hypnosis to treat affected patients.
A clinical psychologist is a mental health professional, who has a professional doctoral degree (usually a Ph.D. or a Psy.D.) in clinical or counseling psychology and has met local licensing criteria. Those criteria typically include a period of post-doctoral practice under the supervision of a licensed psychologist, a licensing exam, and continuing education requirements. Such licensed psychologists can legally provide psychotherapy, and use this term to refer to aspects of the mental health treatments they perform.
Research or experimental psychologists study behavioral processes by conducting scientific research on human beings and animals. They work in universities and private research centers, as well as for government organizations. Common areas of research include emotion, intelligence, learning, memory, motivation, personality, psychopathology, and factors affecting psychological development. Research psychologists generally have an academic doctoral degree (Ph.D.). The requirements are different from the professional degrees of medical doctors and clinical psychologists in that they include significant academic research experience and original contributions to scientific research in the form of a dissertation.
This list includes famous psychologists and contributors to psychology; some of them may not have thought of themselves primarily as psychologists but are included here because of their important contributions to the discipline.
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