When seeking mental healthcare for yourself or a loved one, the first question you may ask is -- what are the different types of psychologists? One source stated there are as many as 70 different types of psychologists, so given the number of specialties to choose from, it's easy to understand why it's difficult to know who might be right for you. This article focuses on the most commonly known specializations and explores a few you may not have encountered before.
Whether you're far along on your journey or just beginning to explore psychotherapy, this list of different types of psychologists will show you that there are many options when pursuing help. No matter what you might be experiencing, there is a psychologist out there who can speak directly to your specific needs.
First, it's essential to understand what a psychologist does and how it's different from other mental health practitioners. You may already be familiar with Psychiatrists, Counselors, Therapists, and Psychologists. Though there is overlap between the various disciplines, we'll focus purely on the different types of psychologists in this article.
Though the scope of their role varies depending on their focus, the simplest definition of a psychologist is a "professional specializing in diagnosing and treating diseases of the brain, emotional disturbance, and behavior problems." These disturbances and behavior problems are defined differently from person to person; still psychologists can help with a spectrum of issues that make one's life difficult.
Whether it's a short-term issue like adjusting to a new school or job, or a chronic illness like depression or anxiety that need long-term support, psychologists are qualified to address life's stressors in whatever way they may manifest.
1. Clinical Psychologist
Clinical Psychologists are highly-skilled in psychological testing and evaluations, which are administered and used to determine cognitive ability, diagnose mental illness, and create effective psychotherapy treatment strategies. While there are many different types of psychologists, the professional most people are familiar with is the Clinical Psychologist.
2. Health Psychologist
At first glance, a "Health" Psychologist might sound redundant -- aren't all of the psychologists listed in this article concerned with health, specifically as it relates to mental wellness? Yes, this is true -- but a Health Psychologist's work centers on investigating the specific connection between mental states and physical ones. Health Psychologists work with clients to examine how health and illness impact psychological and physical states, and vice-versa.
3. Developmental Psychologist
The operative word for this professional is development, as a Developmental Psychologist explores and studies how humans grow and change throughout their lives. By focusing on the impact of both nature and nurture influences, Developmental Psychologists examine the changes and development of thoughts, feelings, habits, morals, identity, and expression over time in a person's life.
4. Rehabilitation Psychologist
The Rehabilitation Psychologist focuses on assisting individuals recovering from or managing current injuries and illnesses. They work with a spectrum of patient concerns, from acute injuries or illnesses to those with long-term disabilities and chronic conditions. In addition to providing psychotherapy, Rehabilitation Psychologists may also administer neurological or psychological assessments to aid both a patient's physical and emotional recovery.
5. Community Psychologist
These mental health providers most often work in the public sector, identifying and working to solve society's problems. They may devise programs to support the health of under-resourced communities or work directly to assist vulnerable members of the population. This is one of many different types of psychologists focused on the “macro” of society.
6. Child Psychologist
Focused on supporting and treating children and adolescents who are experiencing a wide variety of behavioral, mental, developmental, and/or emotional stressors. Child Psychologists may help children and teens with transitions in their home or school life, loss of a family member through divorce, death, or strained family dynamics, and a host of other challenges facing today's young people. The Child and Developmental Psychologist do crossover, but they are different types of psychologists.
As people age into their elder years, they do not necessarily age out of their challenges as younger adults. The elderly experience significantly more loss than any other age group. Whether it is the loss of lifelong connections, decreased health and mobility, or shifting living situations and autonomy in life decisions, Geropsychologists are trained to serve this community's specific needs.
8. Military Psychologist
Active duty, reservist, and veteran service members, alongside their civilian families, encounter situations and struggle unique to their lives as military personnel. Military Psychologists are devoted to providing valuable assessments, referrals, psychotherapy, and other assistance to a population under frequent stress and disruption.
As you can see, these eight different types of psychologists are equipped with an array of tools and training to offer guidance and help. It is easy to get overwhelmed when searching for the psychologist that works for you -- it's important to understand that finding the right fit is a process. You can feel confident that the right help is out there for you. If you think it would help to talk to someone, you've already taken the very first step to finding the right psychologist for you.