Psychologist job description

What does a Psychologist do?

Psychologists are qualified experts in human behaviour and the processes of how we think and feel.  

As a Psychologist, you’ll use scientific methods to study the factors that influence human behaviour and apply a range of psychological therapies and interventions to assist people in managing their mental health issues. These evidence-based treatments are centred on changing behaviours and thought patterns to enable your clients to improve their quality of life.

Psychologists can work in an academic or research capacity with individual clients, groups (including families and couples) or organisations. Places of employment can include schools, hospitals, community health services, government departments, market research companies and private practice.

As a Psychologist, your daily tasks may include:

  • Working with clients to help them make changes to their behaviour through a variety of psychological therapies
  • Providing counselling
  • Identifying and diagnosing mental, behavioural or emotional disorders
  • Developing treatment plans
  • Administering psychological tests and assessing the results
  • Conducting research through interviews, surveys and observations

Want to know more about the skills and qualifications you’ll need to work as a Psychologist? Check out how to become a Psychologist.

Areas of specialisation in psychology

As a Psychologist, you might choose one or more specialisations to practice, such as:

  • Clinical psychology
  • Clinical neuropsychology
  • Counselling
  • Sport and exercise psychology
  • Forensic psychology
  • Educational and developmental psychology

Working hours of a Psychologist

A Psychologist’s working hours depend on the area of specialisation or workplace. For example, a Psychologist working in a hospital or other healthcare facility may be required to work evening and weekend shifts. Psychologists in private practice may be able to set their working hours to suit their schedule or the needs of their clients. Psychologists employed in a research or business setting will usually work regular weekday business hours.

Full-time Psychologists work an average of 38.2 hours per week, compared with the national average of 41.1 hours per week for all other occupations (Job Outlook).

What is the difference between a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist?

Psychologists and Psychiatrists are part of a range of healthcare professionals qualified to provide assistance and treatment to people experiencing mental health issues. While both are experts in the field of mental health, there are significant differences between their roles and approaches to treating mental disorders:

Psychiatrists are medical doctors, meaning they have completed a medical degree before undertaking further study to specialise in mental health. As medical doctors, Psychiatrists are qualified to prescribe medication to patients.

Psychiatrists have a broad understanding of biological, psychological and social knowledge, and commonly use this to diagnose and treat patients at the more severe end of the spectrum of mental illness, often in hospital environments.

Psychologists most commonly undertake a Bachelor degree followed by a Master’s degree or doctorate in psychology to become qualified. Psychologists have specialist training in various forms of non-medical interventions and therapies, such as counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

Psychologists can’t prescribe medication, so they work closely with general practitioners or psychiatrists when needed. Psychologists help people experiencing psychological and emotional difficulties, as well as people who have no mental disorder but want to improve their psychological wellbeing.