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Psychology deals with emotions, thoughts and behavior – both in humans and in animals. It attempts to explain why we do what we do and offer help to those with mental or emotional problems. Psychologists work in research settings or as therapists interacting directly with patients. Many use the terms “psychologist”, “psychiatrist” and “therapist” interchangeably. A psychologist normally holds a doctoral degree and has taken postgraduate training. Psychologists are usually licensed or certified and do not prescribe medications except in certain jurisdictions such as Louisiana or New Mexico. Traditionally psychologists have held Ph.D. degrees, but according to the Mayo Clinic the Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree has become popular over the last few decades. The Ph.D. degree includes clinical experience, but also gives a strong theoretical background. Psy.D. training is primarily concerned with the effects of psychotherapeutic treatments on patients. Psychologists may practice on their own or as part of a clinic or hospital. They may also devote their careers to research, rather than treating patients. Some prefer to focus on normal behaviors, but others work abnormal behaviors in clinical or research settings.A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in mental illness. These doctors can prescribe medications and often work in hospital settings as well as in private or group practices. They undergo four or more years of additional training after completing medical school, and may receive certification from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology after passing certain exams. Therapists and counselors have varying levels of education, and may or may not be licensed, depending on the laws in their state. A therapist generally will have at least a Master’s degree in psychology or counseling. Certification may require additional training or testing, and many therapists have taken specialized training in their fields.According to Psychology Today, much of today’s mental health care is offered by counselors, not psychiatrists. These counselors typically have a Master’s degree in either counseling or psychology. Licensing and educational requirements vary from state to state. The field of psychology is broad and complex, with many sub-specialties. Some psychologists focus on psychotherapy, which is based on the theories of Sigmund Freud. Others subscribe to behavioral theories, and work on changing a patient’s behavior rather than seeking an underlying cause for it. Other areas that psychologists work within include art therapy, using art to uncover a patient’s inner thoughts and feelings, marriage and family therapy, which resolves conflicts within a family, and religious counselors.
Psychiatric nurses are also an important part of the mental health field. In some areas, these nurses are licensed to prescribe medications and perform psychotherapy. A psychiatric nurse is an R.N. with additional training in psychology. This additional training may go as far as including a Ph.D. Psychiatric nurses work under the supervision of medical doctors and can diagnose and treat mental illness.Jobs in psychology are on the rise, according to The American Psychological Association. As life becomes more complex, more people are seeing the importance of maintaining mental health. A job in psychology is a way to help others while building a good career.
Drawing upon our more than 30-year history of granting degrees in professional psychology, Argosy University has developed a curriculum that focuses on interpersonal skills and practical experience alongside academic learning. Because getting a degree is one thing. Succeeding, quite another.
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