What is Psychology?
A psychologist is a professional who studies mental processes, be they social, cognitive, emotional, behavioral, or all of the above. They study these processes by observing and interpreting how people relate to others and their surroundings. They may record their observations for the benefit of future counseling sessions or for the sake of referral to a psychologist and future medication.
In general, psychiatrists and psychologists work independently. They consult with clients, carry out research, or work with patients depending on their specific job description. They may be a part of a healthcare team working with social workers, doctors, or in schools working with teachers or other education professionals and the parents of students. Psychologists in private practice may choose to work evenings or weekends so that they can accommodate the needs and schedules of their clients, but those who work as psychiatric technicians will have their schedule set by a manager.
As you can see, there are a variety of levels in which mental health professionals can work. To work with clients, psychiatrists and counselors should have, at minimum, a master’s degree - though a psychologist will need a doctoral degree. To practice in this field at any of these levels, you will also need to be licensed. The only mental health workers that do not need a master’s degree are psychiatric technicians, though they will need either an associate or bachelor’s, and addiction counselors, who will need either an associate degree in the field or a certification along with a license from the state.