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Psychologists similarly work with people who have mental health conditions. They diagnose these conditions using interviews, surveys, and observations.

One of the big differences between these mental health professionals is that psychologists can’t prescribe medication. However, with additional qualifications, psychologists can currently prescribe medication in five states:

  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • New Mexico

They can also prescribe medication if they work in the military, Indian Health Service, or Guam.

A psychologist can work in any of the same settings as a psychiatrist, including:

  • private practices
  • hospitals
  • psychiatric hospitals
  • university medical centers
  • nursing homes
  • prisons
  • rehabilitation programs
  • hospice programs

They commonly treat people with talk therapy. This treatment involves sitting with the therapist and talking through any issues. Over a series of sessions, a psychologist will work with someone to help them better understand their symptoms and how to manage them.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of talk therapy that psychologists frequently use. It’s an approach that focuses on helping people overcome negative thoughts and patterns of thinking.

Talk therapy can take many forms, including:

  • one-on-one with the therapist
  • family therapy
  • group therapy

When treating children, psychologists may assess areas other than mental health, including cognitive functioning and academic capabilities.

They may also perform types of therapy that psychiatrists normally don’t do, such as play therapy. This type of therapy involves letting children play freely in a safe playroom with very few rules or limits.

By watching children play, psychologists can gain insight into disruptive behaviors and what a child is uncomfortable expressing. They can then teach children communication skills, problem-solving skills, and more positive behaviors.