Counselors and psychologists spend the majority of their time talking with and listening to people. Counselors primarily help individuals resolve conflicts, discover their aptitudes and interests, and improve their mental and emotional well-being. Psychologists accomplish similar objectives while also conducting research, writing reports, teaching graduate-level psychology students and providing treatment to patients.
Counselors interact with their clients or patients and advise them on personal, educational, family, mental health and career problems they may be experiencing. Most counselors specialize in a specific counseling field. Some examples of counseling specialties include:
- Educational and vocational school counselors: provide career and education training; promote students’ academic, career, personal and social development; evaluate students’ abilities, talents, interests and personalities; conduct interviews and assessment tests, and provide career information to students
- School counselors:
- Elementary school counselors: observe children in classroom and play environments; discuss a child’s problems, strengths or special needs with teachers and parents
- High school counselors: advise students on college majors, admissions, entrance exams and financial aid; help students develop job search skills, resumes and interview techniques
- Rehabilitation counselors: help people cope with the personal, social and vocational effects of disabilities, illnesses or injuries; provide job training and other services to help these individuals live independently and successfully
- Mental health counselors: work with individuals, families and other groups to treat mental and emotional disorders and promote good mental health; help individuals cope with depression, addiction, suicidal impulses, grief, stress or low self-esteem
- Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors: help people manage and overcome their addictions to alcohol, drugs and gambling; help those suffering from eating disorders; identify and help prevent addictive behaviors
- Marriage and family counselors: help families and couples resolve emotional conflicts; help improve the communication and understanding between family members
Like counselors, psychologists work to understand the human mind. This involves patient and client care responsibilities. Psychologists also conduct research and need a more intensive understanding of the human body and brain. Most psychologists have completed medical school and have either a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.).
To better understand the mind, psychologists investigate the physical, social, cognitive and emotional aspects of human behavior. They also provide medical care in hospital, clinical, private, or school settings. Psychological careers can be divided into two categories: clinical psychology and counseling psychology.
Clinical psychologists work in counseling centers, independent or group practices, hospitals or clinics, and universities. These psychologists help mentally and emotionally-distressed patients deal with their personal crises. Their duties include:
- Interviewing patients
- Administering diagnostic tests
- Providing psychotherapy
- Organizing treatment and intervention programs
- Training graduate students at universities or medical schools
Counseling psychologists have many specialties, including:
- School psychology
- Industrial and organizational psychology
- Developmental psychology
- Social psychology
- Experimental and research psychology
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