Psychologists Often Work With These Five Populations of People

  • People With Substance Abuse Disorders
  • Individuals With Mental Illness
  • People With Emotional Difficulties
  • Individuals With Behavior Problems or Addictions
  • Children With Developmental Disabilities

A person who is considering a degree in psychology may wonder about the five populations psychologists often work with on a regular basis. Most psychologists have an area of focus for their practice, and they may not work with every population on this list. Understanding the types of people that a psychologist serves could help a student or degree candidate narrow down their area of focus.

Related resource: Top 10 Online Colleges for Psychology

1. People With Substance Abuse Disorders

Psychologists offer therapy to people with substance abuse disorders. This includes people with alcoholism, prescription drug abuse or illegal drug abuse. The psychologist may work in tandem with the individual’s psychiatrist or addiction medicine physician in order to coordinate the person’s care. Some psychologists focus on a particular type of substance abuse, such as prescription drug abuse. Others may focus on specific types of therapeutic approaches in order to aid the person’s recovery.

2. Individuals With Mental Illness

Psychologists also care for people with mental illness. They typically offer the counseling or therapy part of the person’s treatment, working in tandem with a psychiatrist or other specialty physician or primary care doctor. Psychologists provide counseling for people who have mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. In a few states, psychologists are able to prescribe medication for people with mental illness. Those states include Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, New Mexico, and Louisiana. Psychologists in Guam, Native American reservations and the United States military can also write prescriptions.

3. People With Emotional Difficulties

People with emotional difficulties are also served by psychologists. This includes people who have stress at work, marital difficulties or problems with their family relationships. Anyone can experience these problems, so psychologists who offer these general counseling or therapy sessions will often have a diverse array of clients in their practice.

4. Individuals With Behavior Problems or Addictions

According to Very Well Mind, people with behavioral problems or addictions are another population that a psychologist works within their practice. A psychologist might focus on a specific type of behavior problem, such as internet addiction or compulsive shopping. They may diagnose and treat behavioral addictions, such as gambling disorder or hoarding. They may offer individual as well as family therapy, especially for people whose behaviors or addictions affect their marital relationship. Some psychologists who specialize in behavior problems or addictions provide in-home treatment sessions. They may also coordinate group therapy sessions for populations of people affected by a particular behavioral addiction.

5. Children With Developmental Disabilities

Children who have developmental disabilities are another population served by psychologists. Some psychologists offer their services through a children’s hospital or a specialty clinic that is devoted to the care of children with special needs. Others may be in private practice. Schools may also employ psychologists who focus on children with developmental disabilities. The services of these psychologists include coordination of classroom or testing environments so that the student can participate as fully as possible.

Many psychologists further narrow the population that they work with, such as teens with a substance abuse disorder or geriatric individuals with a mental illness. This allows the psychologist to hone their skills of diagnosing and treating the affected population. These five populations psychologists often work with have a high demand for ongoing therapy, counseling, and medication so that they can lead healthy lives.