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Psychologists are not medical doctors, but they are important workers in the mental health field. A psychologist studies the way people feel and think, as well as how thoughts and feelings change the way people act. When psychologists work with patients directly to help them feel better, they practice clinical psychology. Clinical psychologists diagnose mental health disorders and provide treatment in the form of therapy.
A clinical psychologist might work with individuals, families, groups, or organizations. They may see people who are struggling to work through difficult circumstances, trying to overcome bad habits or patterns in their lives, recovering from a brain injury, or suffering from mental illness such as depression.
Clinical psychologists are skilled assessors. Through talking to their patients they can: (1) identify which thoughts or feelings are causing the problems in their patient's life, (2) help their patient acknowledge what emotional strengths they bring to face those problems, and (3) make plans for treatment.
Treatment varies widely depending on the patient's problems and the psychologist's areas of expertise. There hundreds of recognized modes of therapy; in addition, a patient may need to see a psychiatrist (medical doctor) for medication treatment. Whichever therapies a psychologist uses, the goal is to help patients see areas in their life where their thoughts or feelings are holding them back and causing distress. Through therapy, psychologists can encourage their patients to develop new ways to adapt so that they can lead happier lives.