Psychologists and their work can be classified into three general and often overlapping categories: (1) Research Psychology, (2) Applied Psychology, and (3) Clinical/Counselling Psychology. Each of these areas is described below, but you can also read more information from the Canadian Psychological Association at CPA.
These psychologists are scientists who use observation, experimentation, and statistics in order to understand, explain, and predict the experience and behaviour of human beings and animals. Some study psychological processes (e.g., Sensation & Perception, Learning & Memory, Emotion & Motivation, Thinking & Language), whereas others study topics such as Child Development, Personality, Social Interactions, Families, Organizations, and Communities.
Some psychologists' work involves the application of psychological knowledge to solving problems and improving conditions in everyday life. Often these individuals are employed as consultants, working with schools to improve learning and behaviour, corporations to motivate employees and improve productivity, police forces to enhance investigation, or athletic organizations to improve athletes' performance.
These psychologists assess and treat complex mental and behavioural problems, with individuals, couples, families, and groups. They may also work at the community level to improve living conditions and promote mental health. Clinical and counselling psychologists are generally employed in hospitals, private or community clinics, schools, or correctional institutions. In comparison with psychiatrists, who are medical doctors with specialized training in the treatment of mental disorders and can prescribe drugs, psychologists more often take a psychosocial view, using 'talk' and behaviour therapies to treat mental illness and general life difficulties. In most jurisdictions in Canada, registration as a professional psychologist requires a PhD.