Info Bites: Psychology

What is PsychologyDid you know?

Here are some facts about Psychology is brief bites that can be easily inserted into a document, added to a presentation or tweeted to a colleague.

What is Psychology?

  • Psychology is the study of how we think, feel and behave. Human behaviour is the basis of our interactions, our
    innovations, and our societal progress
  • Psychology is both a science and the application of that science.
  • The discipline of Psychology has been studying human behaviour and functioning for more than 125 years.
  • Psychology spans three broad areas:
  1. The biological determinants of behaviour (such as the study of basic brain processes, memory, thought, perception).  of human behaviour across the continuum of health and health care (such as, how we experience and manage pain).
  2. The factors related to the workplace and society (such as how people interact in romantic relationships, the study of language development, etc.)
  3.  Psychology uniquely has a broad scope of scientific interests, which allows it to act as a meeting ground and synthesizing agent for research from many disciplines.
  • The professional application of psychology includes the scientific evaluation and refinement of psychological treatments
    and methods.
  • Psychology integrates science and practice into empirically-based practice.


What is a Psychologist?

  • Psychologists specialize in applying psychology in particular areas, such as clinical, counselling, forensic, health, industrial/organizational, neuropsychological or school psychology.
  • A psychologist studies how we think, feel and behave from a scientific viewpoint and applies this knowledge to help people understand, explain and change their behaviour.
  • Trained as scientists and practitioners, psychologists have made important and unique contributions to the understanding of mental health and mental illness as well to the treatments and systems best suited to help people live well in health and with illness. (CPA)


Psychology Training

  • There are approximately 18,000 psychologists registered to practice in Canada, including over 500 in Nova Scotia. This makes psychologists the largest, regulated, specialized mental health care providers in the country – out numbering psychiatrists approximately 4:1.
  • Unlike unregulated terms such as, ‘therapist’, the term ‘psychologist’ can only be attained after a psychologist has met requirements set by the provincial psychological regulatory authority.


How Long Does it Take to Become a Psychologist?

  • To be registered as a psychologist in Nova Scotia one must have a graduate degree in psychology from a program that requires an undergraduate degree in psychology (or equivalent courses in psychology) as part of the entrance requirement.
  • Overall, it takes approximately five to eight years after receiving a bachelor’s degree to obtain a Ph.D. in psychology.
  • A master’s degree in Psychology usually takes two to three years to complete, followed by an additional four to six years for a doctoral (Ph.D., Psy.D.) degree.
  • In addition, depending on the degree, Psychologists must accumulate between at least 1,500 and 3,000 supervised practice.


Psychologist or Psychiatrist: What’s the Difference?

  • Many clinical psychologists have a Doctoral level degree in Psychology, after having obtained a Bachelors degree & Master’s degree in Psychology. This is up to 10 years of university education and training. Psychiatrists have a general medical degree, and then advanced training in psychiatry (4 years residency after the M.D. degree).
  • Both clinical psychologists and psychiatrists provide mental health therapy and other services. Often psychologists focus on learning and environmental factors, and psychiatrists focus on biological factors.
  • Psychologists and psychiatrists provide some different types of service. Psychologists do psychological testing with well-researched tests; psychiatrists typically do not. Psychiatrists can prescribe medication; Psychologists cannot.


Where Do Psychologists Work?

  • Psychologists work in clinics, correction facilities, hospitals, rehabilitation centres, schools, universities and in private practice.
  • Psychologists use tests and other assessment methods to:
  1. clarify problems,
  2. diagnose and provide therapy for psychological and emotional disorders,
  3. help clients manage physical illnesses and disorders,
  4. consult with other professionals,
  5. plan and implement research and apply theory relating to behaviour and mental processes.
  • Many psychologists are active in both research and practice.


What Do Psychologists Do?

  • Psychologists engage in research, practice and teaching across a wide range of topics having to do with how people think, feel and behave.
  • Psychologists work can involve individuals, groups, families as well as larger organizations in government and industry.


What Are Some Examples of Psychological Research & Practice?

  • Mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, phobias, etc.
  • Addictions and substance use and abuse (e.g., smoking, alcohol, drugs).
  • Marital and family relationships and problems.
  • Neurological, genetic, psychological and social determinants of behaviour (e.g., Fetal Alcohol Syndrome)
  • Brain injury, degenerative brain diseases (e.g., dementia).
  • The perception and management of pain.
  • Psychological factors and problems associated with physical conditions and disease (e.g. diabetes, heart disease, and stroke).
  • Psychological factors and management of terminal illnesses such as cancer.
  • Cognitive functions such as learning, memory, problem solving, intellectual ability and performance.
  • Developmental and behavioural abilities and problems across the lifespan (e.g., ADHD).
  • Criminal behaviour, crime prevention, services for victims and perpetrators of criminal activity (e.g., assessing the risk of recidivism).
  • Stress, anger and other aspects of lifestyle management.
  • Court consultations addressing the impact and role of psychological and cognitive factors in accidents and injury, parental capacity, and competence to manage one’s personal affairs.
  • The application of psychological factors to work such as motivation, leadership, productivity, marketing, healthy workplaces, ergonomics.
  • Psychological factors necessary to maintaining wellness and preventing disease (e.g., obesity).
  • Social and cultural behaviour and attitudes, the relationship between the individual and the many groups of which he or she is part (e.g. work, family, society).
  • The role and impact of psychological factors on performance at work, recreation and sport.
  • Evaluation of treatment effectiveness
  • Facilitating adherence to health interventions.

 – APNS, CPA, et al.