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Definitions and Explanations - Psychologist And Psychological Terms

Definitions and Explanations

Definitions and Explanations - Psychologist And Psychological Terms

WHAT IS A. defines each of the professions listed below:


Psychologists are usually categorized into a number of different fields, the most well-recognized being clinical psychologists, who provide mental health care, and research psychologists, who collect, investigate and analyze aspects of human behavior. Clinical Psychology, Educational Psychology, Forensic psychology, and School Psychology are four of the main specialty areas and Board Certification areas in the general field of Psychology.


A psychiatrist is a licensed physician, usually a M.D. or D.O., who, after training as a physician, has specialized in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of mental disorders. Their medical and psychiatric training prepares them to treat adults and children either individually, as part of a family unit, and/or in a group setting. Psychiatrists can, and usually do, prescribe medication as part of the treatment they provide.

Clinical Psychologist

A clinical psychologist is a licensed mental health professional, usually with a Ph.D. in the area of Psychology, who specializes in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of mental health related problems and mental disorders. Clinical training prepares a psychologist to treat adults and children either individually, as part of a family unit, and/or as part of a couple or other group.

Educational Psychologist

Educational psychology is the study of how people learn in educational settings, the effectiveness of educational interventions, the psychology of teaching, and the social psychology of schools. Educational psychology is concerned with the processes of educational attainment among the general population and specific populations such as gifted children and those subject to specific problem and disabilities.

Forensic Psychologist

A forensic psychologist is specially trained Ph.D. psychologist who uses the knowledge of psychology and his/her experience to offer an expert psychological opinions in a way that it impacts on the legal arena, typically involving civil and criminal law and the courts. Many people think of forensic psychologists as focusing on criminal matters. While this is certainly an area of focus, a forensic psychologist frequently does much more.

School Psychologist

A School Psychologist is a psychologist who applies principles of the specialties of psychology to the diagnosis and treatment of students' behavioral problems. School psychologists are educated in child and adolescent development, learning theories, psycho-educational assessment, personality theories, therapeutic interventions, identification of learning disability; and the ethical, legal and administrative codes of their profession.

Social Worker

Social workers work in a variety of settings, including non profit or public social service agencies, grassroots advocacy organizations, community health agencies, schools, faith-based organizations, and even the military. Other social workers work as psychotherapists, counselors, or mental health practitioners, normally working in coordination with psychiatrists, psychologists, or other medical professionals.

Life Coach

The goal of a coach is to help the client and/or organization develop more rapidly, be more efficient and effective, and experience more satisfaction in life. Coaches work with clients in almost any area including personal relationships and personal growth, business, career, finances, and health. A coach tries to help a client set better goals, take more action, make better decisions, and make use of their natural strengths.

Personal Coach

The terms Personal Coach and Life Coach are often used interchangeably. Life and personal coaching is based on the client's expressed interests, goals, and objectives. The initial task involves the coach and client working out a mutual understanding of the scope of work and documenting that understanding often in the form of a contract. Then the coach helps the client prioritize needs and look for ways to facilitate improvement.

Executive Coach

The goal of an executive coach is very similar to that of a personal coach or life coach, i.e. to help the client and/or organization develop more rapidly, be more efficient and effective, and experience more satisfaction. Coaches work with clients in almost any area including personal relationships and personal growth, business, career, finances, and health.  A coach tries to help a client set better goals, take more action, make better decisions, and make use of their natural strengths


Therapy, or treatment, is the remediation of a health problem, after a diagnosis has been made. In the context of this website, the term 'therapy" is defined as an attempted remediation of a mental health related problem. A 'therapist' is the person providing the treatment, help or remediation. This page lists the many types of therapists.

Mental Health Professional

A mental health professional is a person who offers services for the purpose of improving an individual's mental health and/or researches in the field of mental health.  There are many types of mental health professionals varying in education, experience, certifications, and specialties. Some of the most widely known mental health professions are listed on this page.

Pastoral Counselor

Pastoral counseling is a branch of counseling in which ordained ministers, rabbis, priests and others provide therapy services. Pastoral counseling is different from Christian counseling which is generally a more conservative, more Bible-centered, less clinical approach to therapy. Pastoral counseling is also distinct from pastoral care, a field in which military and hospital chaplains and other trained clergy provide emotional support and guidance to individuals in need. Pastoral counseling is distinct from mainstream psychotherapy because psychologists and psychiatrists are not typically trained to deal specifically with issues of spirituality and religion. However, some pastoral counselors say that they do not talk about religion at all with certain clients.


The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) is published by the American Psychiatric Association. It is the standard classification of mental problems/disorders used by mental health professionals in the United States. It is intended to be applicable in a wide array of contexts and used by clinicians and researchers of many different orientations. The DSM has gone though five revisions (II, III, III-R, IV, IV-TR) since it was first published in 1952

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  Satir, Virginia
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                                    Copyright 2005 Dr Vincent Berger                                     


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