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As mentioned in other blogs, the distinction between the professions of a counsellor, psychologist and psychotherapist is not always clear. In fact, there is a lot of overlap between these professions. They all work with clients to help them meet their needs and therefore support their clients so that they can feel better. Differences between the three professions emerge in the background of the professional, the framework they apply in their work and the training they would have received. Some of these professionals specialise in a particular area or show an interest to work with specific client groups. Frequently this is what distinguishes them, rather than the title they hold. To help clients improve, the relationship a therapist develops with the client is more effective than the therapeutic technique itself. This blog will be focusing on the role of the psychologist.

The American Psychological Association (APA) defines a practicing psychologist as a professional who helps people treat different kinds of problems. Clients may need help because they have long-term difficulties such as feeling depressed or because of short-term problems such as struggling to deal with a new change. Thus, engaging in therapeutic work with clients is one of the roles that psychologists have. Another role that they have which can distinguish them from other professions is, that they carry out assessments. This means that they administer and interpret a number of tests that can provide them with further information to make a diagnosis. Such tests may evaluate cognitive strengths and weaknesses, personality functioning and vocational aptitude.

Within the discipline of psychology itself there are also several areas of specialisation. Some of these areas include; child psychology, educational psychology, clinical psychology, counselling psychology, forensic psychology and sports psychology. Psychologists work in different settings such as hospitals, schools, prisons, rehabilitation settings and in private clinics. The setting in which they choose to work usually depends on their area of specialisation and interests they have.

Another important role that psychologists have is to carry out research. This enables them to understand different phenomena which occur in society, why people behave in certain ways and to give a voice to people. In doing so, the psychologist understands better the experiences of people. Research findings lead to the development of evidence-based practice which is very important. This means that the interventions that the psychologist applies with their clients is based on what works.

The psychologist has in-depth knowledge of how the brain works. This is important because the brain influences how a person behaves and their mental state. Thus, psychologists need to have a good understanding of the brain so that they can consider different factors which could be influencing how a client feels, thinks and behaves.

Seeking the help of a professional can be very difficult for some people. Not knowing who to go to can make it even more difficult. The advantage of seeking the help of a multidisciplinary team such as Willingness Team is that the client can be paired with the professional who can help them best and with whom they can fit best.

Dr Marilyn Muscat is registered as an Educational Psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council in the United Kingdom where she trained. She works with children, adolescents and their families to understand more about educational, social and emotional well-being concerns that they have and to help them improve upon their difficulties. She can be contacted on marilyn@willingness.com.mt or call us on 79291817.