PSYCHOLOGISTS are highly educated scientists, researchers, and practitioners who study human behavior. Psychologists may be interested in one
or more domain, such as schools, industry, families, health, sports, and early childhood.

CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGISTS are what most people think of when they hear the term “Psychologist". Clinical Psychologists assess and treat adults, adolescents and children with emotional or behavioral problems. While some of our work involves potentially serious mental illness, most people can benefit from psychotherapy at some point in their lives. Psychotherapy can help people change the way they think, feel and act. When we change in these ways, we are able to reduce stress, solve problems, and live more balanced and fulfilling lives. Individuals, couples, and families can benefit from working with a Psychologist to treat depression, anxiety, grief, trauma and a variety of relationship and behavior problems. Very often, individuals enter treatment because of problem behaviors related to alcohol, drugs, gambling, work, Internet use, food, overspending, or sex. Psychotherapy can be helpful when making critical decisions about parenting and family planning, employment, retirement, health challenges, and life transitions. Psychologists often provide a unique approach to improving performance and enhancing overall health and well being.

PSYCHOTHERAPY: Clinical Psychologists use a variety of methods to assess and treat problems. The following are brief summaries of just some of the more common approaches currently in use.

  • PSYCHODYNAMIC AND PSYCHOANALYTIC THERAPIES focus on understanding family of origin dynamics and uncovering unconscious meanings and motivations. A strong, secure therapeutic relationship supports both exploration and change.
  • HUMANISTIC AND EXISTENTIAL THERAPIES encourage people to search for personal meaning and to exercise free will, so that they may make rational choices and develop maximum, individual potential. These include Client Centered and Gestalt Therapies.
  • COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY (CBT) emphasizes that dysfunctional thinking leads to dysfunctional emotions and behaviors. By changing their thoughts, people can change how they feel and what they do.
  • BEHAVIORAL THERAPIES modify behavior by analyzing what rewards or benefits are gained by a particular behavior in order to restructure how a client responds.
  • ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) teaches people to meditate and experience life while attempting to resist judgment; it then teaches people to change their behavior in order to function better.
  • DIALECTICAL BEHAVIOR THERAPY (DBT), derived from Buddhist meditation practice, combines emotion regulation, reality testing, mindful awareness, distress tolerance, and acceptance.
  • EYE MOVEMENT DESENSITIZATION AND REPROCESSING (EMDR) uses bilateral stimulation (visual, auditory or tactile) to reformulate disturbing and unresolved life experiences. A standardized protocol addresses past, present, and future aspects of disturbing memories, to enhance functioning, and to resolve other problems.

OTHER SPECIALITIES WITHIN THE FIELD OF PSYCHOLOGY:

Psychological Assessment is the comprehensive integration of information from personality inventories, ability and intelligence tests, surveys of interests and attitudes, and structured clinical interviews. Parents, teachers, spouses, physicians, and psychiatrists may contribute to the assessment process. Diagnostic evaluations can determine appropriate clinical treatment, and may also assist in vocational and educational planning. Assessments provide information about specific aptitudes and tendencies, as well as level of current functioning that can affect learning and other behavior.

Forensic Psychologists provide expertise on the psychological aspects of legal processes in courts by translating psychological information into a legal framework. In this role, they may be required to assess a defendant in terms of: competency to stand trial; state of mind at the time of the alleged offense to determine sanity or insanity; malingering; issues related to treatment, sentencing and sentence mitigation; suitability for certain medical procedures; ability to parent; and child custody and visitation. They also evaluate witness credibility, assist with jury selection, train and evaluate police personnel, and provide criminal profiles.

Neuropsychologists study how the structure and function of the brain affects specific psychological processes and behavior. Clinical Neuropsychologists assess and rehabilitate children and adults who have problems related to illness or injury such as stroke, traumatic brain injury, tumors, toxic and metabolic disorders, and other differences in brain structure which cause cognitive and learning problems. They provide information to determine whether a person’s difficulties are related to identifiable, specific brain pathology.

Information presented on this website is provided as a service of the Hudson Valley Psychological Association (HVPA). The views expressed are based on interpretation of published information and research, as well as on professional expertise and experience. Posted text is not official HVPA policy, and is not intended as medical or psychological advice to replace the expertise and judgment of your own medical professionals. These documents were selected or designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your physical or emotional health, you should always consult with a physician, psychologist, or other health-care professional. Do not disregard, avoid or delay obtaining medical or health related advice from your health-care professional because of something you may have read here. The use of any information provided here is solely at your own risk.