What does a Psychologist do?

What is psychology?

Psychology is the scientific study of the human mind and behaviour with the overall aim of gaining a greater understanding of human beings. It is both a science and profession dedicated to understanding how biology, society, culture and environment shape how people think, feel, behave and learn. Areas of study within psychology include development, personality, thoughts, feelings, emotions, motivations, behaviours and relationships.

What is clinical psychology?

Clinical psychology is a subfield and specialty area within psychology that is focused on the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions. Psychologists with an endorsement in Clinical Psychology are dedicated to the field of mental health, and apply their knowledge and extensive training in evidence-based practices to help clients manage and overcome symptoms of mental distress and psychological illness.

Many people can benefit from seeing a psychologist and the reasons for commencing therapy with a psychologist vary greatly. Often, a general practitioner will recommend that a patient see a psychologist if they are experiencing symptoms of mental health conditions such as stress, depression, anxiety, phobias, post-traumatic stress, eating disorders, substance use disorders, and relationship problems.

People may also benefit from seeing a psychologist if they have been through a significant change or adjustment in their lives that is currently causing them distress. They may also seek a psychologist’s help to assist them and hold them accountable when trying to make improvements to the way they currently live, including how they behave at work, socially, and how they care for themselves and others. Psychologists can also assist clients to create a life that is meaningful, fulfilling and purposeful.

Children and adolescents can also benefit from seeing a psychologist. Therapy can assist children and adolescents to learn strategies to regulate their emotions and adjust to change, as well as reduce unhelpful behaviours and improve functioning in important areas of their life, such as learning at school or university and navigating social relationships.

There are a multitude of evidence-based therapeutic approaches within the field of clinical psychology. One of the most commonly applied therapies is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Research indicates that CBT is one of the most effective forms of treatment for many mental health conditions, thus most psychologists are trained in this mode of therapy. Psychologists also use other therapies that are supported by research, depending on their background and training. These may include Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), Exposure Therapy, Schema Therapy, Trauma-focused CBT, Mindfulness-based therapies, and Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR). Psychologists can deliver therapy to clients individually, in groups, to families and/or couples.

If you have a mental health condition, you can visit your doctor to obtain a Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP) and referral to see a psychologist. The fees for psychological services vary, and while Medicare does not cover the total service fee, the MHCP allows you to claim $129.55 per session for up to 20 sessions per calendar year.

Who can benefit from seeing a psychologist?




Post Traumatic Stress

Eating disorders

Substance abuse

Relationship problems