Psychologist Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Psychologist, or Clinical Psychologist, is a mental health professional in charge of performing psychoanalysis to diagnose mental illness and provide treatment for mental and behavioral issues. Their duties include conducting talk therapy with clients, writing referrals to other health professionals and performing mental health assessments to identify problems.

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Psychologist duties and responsibilities

Psychologists take a scientific point of view to study the human mind so they can help patients understand their behavior and change for the better. They typically have the following responsibilities:

  • Diagnose and treat emotional, mental and behavioral disorders
  • Assess patients and provide recommendations for treatments
  • Use literature, research and translate complex concepts and use them to treat patients
  • Provide patients with referrals to other therapists, clinics or facilities as needed
  • Participate in off-hours call rotation
  • Conduct case management tasks
  • Conduct administrative tasks
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What does a Psychologist do?

Psychologists work for mental health practices to help clients manage psychological challenges in their life. They decide what kind of therapy programs and mental health treatments are most appropriate for each client, recording their progress and making adjustments based on their response to different approaches to treatment. Psychologists talk to their patients about the symptoms they experience and help them identify the source of irregular thoughts, emotions and behaviors. They help clients process conflict and trauma, cultivating a safe and trusting environment where clients can be honest about their challenges.

Psychologists skills and qualifications

Psychologists use a variety of skills to provide their patients with the most comprehensive support and care, which can include:

  • Patience, especially when working with challenging patients or those who may be resistant to treatment
  • Interpersonal skills, including being able to relate to their patients in order to help them
  • Empathy to identify with patients’ experiences to help them understand what is causing them to feel a certain way
  • Trustworthiness to keep information confidential, as patients will tell the psychologist their most private thoughts and secrets
  • Communication skills and the ability to know when to talk and when to listen to create a safe environment for the patients
  • Critical thinking to help the psychologist make an accurate diagnosis to recommend proper treatment

Psychologist salary expectations

A Psychologist makes an average of $86,229 per year. Salary may vary depending on a candidate’s education, experience level and geographical location. 

Psychologist education and training requirements

Educational requirements for Psychologists can vary depending on the specific requirements of the role. Many people who obtain a bachelor’s degree in psychology do not pursue careers as Psychologists. Those who do typically have a master’s degree and the required state or professional licenses and certifications. Continuing education may be necessary for Psychologists to maintain licensure. 

Psychologist experience requirements

Most Psychologists gain the necessary experience for this position during their undergraduate or postgraduate coursework, but it may be useful for them to get experience in the specific area or setting they want to work in after graduation. Psychologists can work in a wide variety of settings including clinical research, private practices, hospitals or schools. They might also specialize in a certain age group, like children, or a specific mental disorder or issue, like eating disorders or anxiety. While Psychologists should have a general understanding of all aspects of the field, these specifications can make them more competitive.

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Frequently asked questions about Psychologists


What is the difference between a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist?

Psychologists and Psychiatrists are both mental health professionals who work to diagnose and treat mental disorders. Psychiatrists are Doctors who attended medical school and chose to specialize in psychiatric medicine. They prescribe medication and may recommend other forms of treatment. Psychologists study human psychology and apply that knowledge to their patients through psychological evaluations and guided discussion. They are not authorized to prescribe medication but might refer a patient to a Psychiatrist.

Psychologists focus on providing counseling and behavioral treatment to patients, while Psychiatrists use medication to treat and cure the chemical imbalances that contribute to many psychological issues. Psychiatrists may have short counseling sessions with their patients to discuss the effects of the medication and adjust treatment plans, but most Psychiatrists refer their patient to a Counselor, Therapist or Psychologist for talk therapy. With permission, Psychiatrists and Psychologists can collaborate on the treatment plan of a shared patient.


What are the qualities of a good Psychologist?

Because Psychologists deal with sensitive mental health issues every day, they need to be compassionate, empathetic, understanding and kind. They should also be realistic and practical, allowing them to give sound advice to their clients in a way that encourages them to accept help instead of being defensive. Excellent Psychologists are committed to helping others but also understand how to place healthy boundaries to prevent them from experiencing burnout or getting too close to clients. Good Psychologists have excellent focus so they can pay attention to the details of their client’s responses to treatment.


What are the daily duties of a Psychologist?

Psychologists usually work out of a medical or counseling office and can set their own hours depending on their availability and the needs of their patients. They schedule their patients ahead of time and may also take on emergency appointments to help clients in crisis. They prepare for a session with a client by reviewing their file and making note of key issues or the type of treatment they’re working on together. The Psychologist asks the patient questions to guide the conversation and employs various techniques to modify the patient’s behavior, reactions and thought processes. 


What are the different types of Psychologists?

Psychologists can choose to focus on a particular type of psychology where they practice specific treatments or work with a certain illness, age group or environment. Some of the types of Psychologists are Child Psychologists, Developmental Psychologists, Educational Psychologists, Rehabilitation Psychologists, Applied Behavior Psychologists and Forensic Psychologists.

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