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Being A Psychologist

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When people think of a psychologist, they typically think of a type of shrink. While there are many different types of psychology, that is was a clinical psychologist basically is. Clinical psychologists diagnose, and treat, patients with various types of mental health disorders. While there are many different types of psychologists, clinical psychologists make up the largest concentration of psychologists in the United States (Clinical Psychologist Career and Degree Information). In clinical psychology you can choose to specialize in a specific patient group, disorder, or condition; this is why the subsection of psychology is the largest (What Does a Clinical Psychologist Do?).

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A clinical psychologist’s main job is to assess and treat mental health disorders and behavioral disorders. Typically, people use mental health and behavioral health interchangeably, but, despite the common belief, there is a difference between mental and behavioral health. In a behavioral health disorder, a choice is present. For example, a person suffering from substance abuse made a conscious choice to begin using the substance. An eating disorder, like anorexia nervosa, is a behavioral health disorder, because the patient willing restricts food. A mental disorder is when the symptoms the patient is experiencing is involuntary. Such as schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, and any type of anxiety disorder (Brain Disorders: Mental Disorders vs. Behavioral Disorders).

An important part of clinical psychology is psychopathology, through different forms of psychopathology is how patients are assessed and treated. (apa.org) Psychopathology is a broad science of how disorders are identified and how they manifest. They can be identified using what is called “the 4 D’s”, which are the 4 abnormalities taken into consideration while diagnosing a disorder. The four d’s are deviance, distress, dysfunction and danger. The deviance is for actions, feelings, or reactions that are considered unacceptable to society. Distress is the negative response people have in response to their disorder. Dysfunction refers to anything making it difficult to live in a healthy, productive lifestyle. Danger is the behavior that is caused by the disorder. There are many different types of disorders, but to make it easier on professionals they are listed in the DSM, or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The DSM lists what characteristics must be present for specific disorders so psychologists or other mental health professionals, like a psychiatrist, can diagnose patients accurately. (What is Psychopathology)

Psychology and psychiatry are two professionals in the mental health field, but they are often confused with one another. So, what’s the difference between psychology and psychiatry? Since psychologists and psychiatrists often work together to help a patient, the job descriptions slightly overlap each other, but there are a few significant differences between the two. The biggest difference is in education. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who must go through medical school, a year of internship, and three years of residency in the treatment and assessment of mental disorders. A psychologist is not a medical doctor, but has a doctoral degree in an area of psychology. A psychologist can have a PhD in philosophy or a PsyD in clinical or counseling psychology. The most commonly known difference between the two is that a psychiatrist can prescribe medication and a psychologist doesn’t, although some states allow psychologists to prescribe a limited amount of psychiatric medications if they’ve taken a course in psychopharmacology (Psychologist or Psychiatrist: Which Is Right for You). For a degree in psychology, you must get an undergraduate degree in psychology, either a bachelor’s degree of art or science. Then, you would have to attend graduate school to get your masters, then doctorate degree. Most states require two years of internship before you can get your license to practice. While getting your degree you can choose to specialize in a certain area of psychology, which can require additional testing or state tests to get your practicing licence. A psychologist can also practice as a psychoanalyst, which requires additional training in psychoanalysis.

What is psychoanalysis? Psychoanalysis, be definition, a method of analyzing psychic phenomena and treating emotional disorders that involves treatment sessions during which the patient is encouraged to talk freely about personal experiences and especially about early childhood and dreams (merriam-webster.com). Psychoanalysis was created by Sigmund Freud, who believed that a person could be healed by making their unconscious thoughts and behaviors conscious. Psychoanalysis is both a therapy and a theory that is commonly used to treat anxiety disorders and depression. The goal of psychoanalysis is to retrieve locked away emotions and experiences, typically childhood experiences, and bring them out to the conscious mind, i.e. bringing the unconscious to the conscious. Remember the therapy typically depicted on TV where the patient is laying on the couch talking about their weird dreams or maybe how the death of their dog when they were 11 traumatized them? That is psychoanalysis, and while it may not be exactly what you see on TV, that’s the jist of it.

Since you now have a better understanding of what a clinical psychologist actually does, you may be thinking, wow that’s great, but where would this professional be working? Well, you’re in luck, I happen to know. Most clinical psychologists work in a private practice. According to the US Bureau of Labor, in 2014 1/3 of all of the psychologists in the United States were self employed (What Working Conditions Are Like for Psychologists). Self employed psychologists usually work weekend and evening shifts to accommodate the schedules of their patients. Some psychologists work shift schedules, like those who work in retirement homes, hospitals, mental health facilities, hospitals, and nursing homes. These psychologists often work evening and weekend hours as well. Psychologists working in an academic setting, government, or business setting often work normal daytime hours. Psychologists who teach spend most of their time in a classroom or conducting experiments. It is very common for psychologists to work in more than one setting. For example, a psychologist who is self employed may also teach.

Money is widely known as a necessity, so, an important thing to know is how much money you make doing your job. According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics 2018-19 the median annual salary for a clinical psychologist as of May 2017 was $75,090. The amount of money you make as a psychologist depends on a few different factors. Some of these factors include your specialty, location, years of experience, and many others. Industrial- organizational psychologists made $87,100 annually as of May 2017 and general psychologists made $87,100. Where you work as a psychologist also affects you annual income. Psychologists that work for the government make an average yearly income of $94,910. Psychologists that work in a hospital, whether it’s a state local or private hospital make an average of $83,910 annually. Psychologists that work in ambulatory healthcare, or outpatient care, make $77,030 and school psychologists in elementary and secondary schools make $74,470 annually (www.bls.gov).

Being a psychologist takes a lot, you have to have certain skills that you can’t just acquire, but must have within your personality, like having empathy. It’s a difficult job that not everyone can do, and it takes a lot of schooling. Doing this paper has only made me more excited for my future as a clinical psychologist. Most of what I researched I did know a bit about, as I researched it before to figure out what it was all about before applying to college. I found it very interesting to read about psychoanalysis, as I hadn’t heard of it prior to writing this paper. I was also very delighted to see all the statistics about the salary, I definitely wouldn’t mind making $83,910 annually. Although I already knew all about how long I will be in school, it is definitely my least favorite part of the job. I am not looking forward to the next eight years in school, but, in the end, I will have my dream job, so it will all be worth it. I’m extremely excited for my future and learning about psychology in general. I have always wanted to make a difference in the world, and while a psychologist doesn’t actually change the world, it can completely alter someone else’s life for the better. In a way, I will be changing the world, I will be able to change someone else’s world. I find psychology has already changed so many people for the better, including myself, and I am eager to become a part of that. So, in conclusion, psychologists are extremely important to society, and I am looking forward to my future career.

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