Psychology is the scientific study of people, the mind and behavior. It is both a thriving academic discipline and a vital professional practice. (The British Psychological Society)

Psychology is the study of mental processes, behavior, and the relationship between the two. Mental processes in psychology refer to learning, motivation, reasoning, and emotion, among others. In other words, the study of psychology involves learning how humans think, feel, learn, interact, perceive, and understand, whether alone or when interacting with other people or the environment.

Clinical psychologists are trained to work with individuals of different ages with behavioural, emotional and/or psychological distress which disrupts their everyday functioning and well-being. They aim to reduce distress and to enhance and promote psychological well-being, minimize exclusion and inequalities and enable service users to engage in meaningful relationships and valued work and leisure activities.
Psychologist will work with individuals (including children, adults and older adults), couples, families and groups and at an organizational and community level.

What does a clinical psychologist do?

Clinical psychologists meet with clients to identify problems—emotional, mental and behavioral—in their lives. Through observation, interviews and tests, the psychologist will diagnose any existing or potential disorders. Then, together with the client, they formulate a program of treatment according to the client’s needs. Psychologists monitor the client’s progress on a regular basis to ensure that their needs are met by the course of action, and to adjust it if necessary

On the job, clinical psychologists:

  • Identify psychological, emotional or behavioral issues
  • Diagnose psychological, emotional or behavioral disorders
  • Develop and implement treatment plans and therapeutic processes
  • Help clients define goals and plan action to achieve personal, social, educational and vocational development and adjustment
  • Monitor client progress through regular meetings or sessions
  • Teach classes
  • Conduct research

What’s psychological treatment?

Psychological treatment is sometimes called ‘psychotherapy’ or ‘talking therapy

It involves talking about your thoughts with a professional to:

  • Better understand your own thinking and behavior
  • Understand and resolve your problems
  • Recognize symptoms of mental illness in yourself
  • Reduce your symptoms
  • Change your behavior
  • improve your quality of life

Evidence shows that psychological treatments work well for emotional, mental and behavioural issues.
Psychological treatments are useful for people of all ages, including children.
They can help people from different cultural, social and language backgrounds.
You can have psychological treatment in an individual session, as part of a group, or online.

Why get psychological treatment?

Psychological treatments are proven to help with mental illnesses such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Eating Disorders
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Personality Disorders

They are also used successfully to help people deal with:

  • stress
  • emotional problems
  • grief and trauma
  • relationship problems.

It may take a number of weeks for you to see results from most psychological treatments. Some types of treatment can take a year or more for you to get the full benefit.
They are not a quick fix, but the positive effects are often long-lasting.
Who can provide psychological treatments?
Psychiatrists can provide psychological treatments to people with mental illness.
Find a psychiatrist near you who can provide psychological treatments
Psychologists, some GPs, social workers, mental health nurses, counsellors and other therapists also offer psychological treatments.

First steps to get help

Not all people who offer psychological treatments have professional training or experience in that therapy. Ask your therapist about their qualifications before your first appointment.
Mental health professionals: who’s who?
Types of psychological treatment
There are different types of psychological treatments designed to help with different issues.

Some of the most common treatments are listed below

  • Acceptance and commitment therapy
  • Cognitive analytic therapy
  • Cognitive behaviour therapy
  • Dialectical behaviour therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Interpersonal therapy
  • Mentalisation-based therapy
  • Mindfulness
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy
  • Supportive psychotherapy

Your first appointment

In a first appointment you will probably be asked to tell your story – what’s happened in your life and the thoughts and feelings you’ve been having.
You may also discuss what your goals are for treatment.
This is a good time to ask your psychiatrist or other therapist questions such as:

  • Why do you think this therapy will suit me?
  • What are the outcomes?
  • How often do I need to see you?
  • How long will the therapy last?
  • What should I do if there’s a crisis, or I need urgent help?
  • How much will it cost?

After a session you might feel relief, or your emotions might be stirred up. Exercise is a good way to release tension.

First appointment with a psychiatrist

Get the most out of psychological treatment
You have to be actively involved for psychological treatment to work.
You can do this by:

  • Speaking honestly about what’s going on in your life, and in your mind
  • Giving your therapist feedback on how you’re doing
  • Asking questions
  • Attending all your appointments
  • Completing any ‘homework’ you are asked to do

Your psychiatrist or other therapist will:

  • Offer a safe, trusting relationship
  • Provide a treatment plan that is created with your input
  • Adjust the treatment to your life stage and circumstances
  • keep what you say in an appointment confidential (although sometimes legal processes will require that some information is shared)
  • offer a positive and non-judgemental approach with a view to your recovery

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