Misconceptions About Psychology Professions

What People Believe And How It Actually Is Psychology has been a part of our history for centuries, and it’s essential to many different aspects of our daily lives. Recently psychology has gained traction in pretty much every direction – the number of students with this major is hundreds of thousands, making it the fourth most popular major in recent times.

Despite all this however, psychology as a profession is still battling many stigmas and misconceptions. In the following artice, we will do our best to shed light on some of the most common myths concerning the different types of careers in psychology. And, in part two of this article series, we will delve deeper into a more specific question – What is the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist?

The Biggest Misconception

Modern Psychology

In every major thing we talk about, there is one HUGE misconception and that doesn’t fall short for psychology neither. The biggest misconception in that regard is that all psychologists are the same. This has nothing to do with the truth and is the easiest one to explain. Think about it – there are countless different professions that deal with psychology.

For instance, clinical and forensic psychologists – one deals with treating people with anything from everyday issues to mental disorders and does so in an office setting through a span of different kinds of sessions. The other is tasked with understanding the thought process of criminals, both alive and dead, and working on making their psychological profile for the law system.

This example alone proves that although you may have the word “psychologist” as part of the description of the profession, this does not mean that they all do the same thing.

Clinical Psychologists, Therapists, And Psychiatrists

Morning Routines

Now let’s move on to some other misconceptions about psychology professions that are worthy of discussing. The below-mentioned ones, state that clinical psychologists, therapists and psychiatrists…

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Are All The Same

This is simply not true. Clinical psychologists provide mental and behavioral health care to individuals and families in the form of counseling and generally have a doctorate degree, but cannot prescribe medications. Although therapists majorly deal in family and relationship therapy and are not required to have a Ph.D., they cannot give medicine either.

Psychiatrists are medical doctors that have completed a 4-year medicinal study in psychiatry and are responsible for prescribing medications. The three often work together or in different combinations but are far from the same.

Are Just Explaining Common Sense

Common sense does not require a Ph.D. or any sort of degree for that matter. Looking back to previous breakthroughs in the history of psychology, we often see that the things we now deem logical and sensible were not at the time. Such mistakes continue to this day, and it’s the professionals’ job to point out why things that seem logical can sometimes have the opposite of the desired effect.

Are Only Useful To People With Extreme Issues

Although many people go to therapy because of mental illness, this is far from universal. Some people go for personal development if they need support to navigate a significant change or when they want to improve a specific aspect of their life.

Going to a psychologist does not mean that something is inherently wrong with you in any way and should never be looked at through this type of negative lens. You can visit your psychologist just for the sake of discussing and getting a third-person perspective!

Don’t Need Any Sort Of Education

Though there are positions that do not require a doctorate or Ph.D., these people are professionals that have had their fair share of studies. In the same way you can have a medical nurse and a doctor, there are different stages and degrees for the different careers, but one thing is for sure – To practise, formal education is necessary.

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Are Tasked With Fixing The Person

The purpose of these professions is not to fix, cure or magically change their clients. These people act as the client’s support system and guide throughout their individual journey. Although they are a big help, the change comes from that person in particular and that person alone. In other words, change is completely autonomous progress of the client, which is guided by the professional’s help.

In a sense, the professional is a catalyst for the person’s change – not the main cause of it.

Are Just There To Listen

Throughout a counseling session, it’s almost impossible for just one part to talk, and that’s never the point for the psychologists. They ask questions, give advice and focus the client’s attention on important subjects.

The purpose of the session is to create a safe environment in which both sides can establish an honest and positive connection. And that cannot work if the conversation is one-sided, simple as that!

Don’t Have Any Personal Problems

Behavioral Psychology

Even though these people put a lot of time and effort into understanding how our brains work, they’re not immune to anything. They still have blind spots, issues and want to change for the better. They’re people just like us, regardless of the years of studying, and like all people, they aren’t perfect. In fact, you’ll hear a lot of professionals in the field say something along the lines of “Do as I say, not as I do!”

What About Other Types Of Careers?

Besides the 3 routes we touched on above, there are other misconceptions that exist in the world of psychology.

For instance, the 3 main ones about other types of careers in psychology are that:

  1. They don’t exist!
  2. They have NOTHING to do with science!
  3. They DON’T deal with empirical evidence, nor statistics
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And well, to be frank – These are flat-out wrong! Let’s explain why

Other Types Of Careers Don’t Exist?

Simply not true! You can be a social worker, a forensic expert, and many more. A psychology degree can also be helpful in writing, marketing, and even media. Pretty much any profession that deals with people has some sort of connection to psychology.

They Have Nothing To Do With Science?

Neuropsychology is maybe the best example to battle this misconception. It’s the study of the physical brain and the connection between it and the mind. This combines biology, chemistry, and psychology and is most certainly a science in every conceivable way.

They Don’t Deal With Empirical Evidence Or Statistics?

All researchers deal with these parts of studies. Psychology deals with a lot of quantifiables and,  because of that, is connected to math and statistics.

Empirical evidence, on the other hand, is what a lot of experiments, studies, and theories are based on, so gathering it and working with it is a regular part of many jobs in psychology.

To Wrap It Up

Misconceptions are pretty common, and it’s no wonder there’s a lot of them regarding a subject as vast as psychology. However it’s important to educate those that believe them and do so in a kind and respectable manner. Learning is the way we evolve and improve our future, and debunking something you used to believe is a big part of that.

Now let’s move on to part two of this article series, where we highlight the differences between psychologists and psychiatrists.

Ready? Let’s go!