Many psychologists worked in schools or in health care settings such as hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation facilities and mental health centers. Others worked in universities. About a third of all psychologists were self-employed.
Since clinical psychologists must be available when their clients can see them, many work in the evenings and on weekends. Those who have private practices can work part-time if they wish. School psychologists generally work during school hours. Industrial-organizational psychologists work during regular business hours.
Coursework may include, depending on the degree, classes in neuropsychology, ethics, social psychology, psychopathology, psychotherapy, statistics and research design. Students also must spend time getting practical experience. In clinical psychology programs, for example, students treat clients under the supervision of a licensed psychologist.
In addition to educational and licensing requirements, individuals need certain characteristics to succeed in this field. Since the work they do revolves around studying and helping people, a psychologist obviously must have people skills. Likewise, those whose work involves talking to and listening to clients must have excellent communication skills. Researchers must have strong analytical skills and they, as well as psychologists who work directly with clients, must be patient. Research and treatment both take a lot of time. What people do is as important as what they say. Good observational skills will help psychologists understand the meaning behind an individual's body language and actions. A psychologist must be trustworthy since he or she is expected to keep what their patients tell them confidential.
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A Day in a Psychologist's Life:
Clinical and counseling psychologists:
- assess individuals using diagnostic tests and interviews
- diagnose mental, behavioral and emotional disorders
- decide what treatment methods to use
- help individuals deal with short-term personal issues that may result from a crisis such as the breakup of a relationship, death of a loved one, a traumatic event or the loss of a job
- provide therapy to families or couples
- address problems students may be having in school
- evaluate students' performances
- consult with other school personnel, students and parents
- study productivity, management styles and individuals' work styles
- solve workplace problems using psychological principles
- identify an organization's training needs and then devise and implement programs that address them
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Psychologists, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Life-Physical-and-Social-Science/Psychologists.htm (visited January 2, 2013).
Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET Online, Clinical, Counseling and School Psychologists, on the Internet at http://www.onetonline.org/link/details/19-3031.00 and Industrial-Organizational Psychologists, on the Internet at http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/19-3032.00, (visited January 2, 2013).