Skills for a Psychologist
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Skills for a Psychologist

Sep 30, 2010

Training to be a psychologist requires a significant investment in time and education. It is important that if you’re considering entering this field that you research the skills needed to become a successful psychologist. Most of these skills are something that you learn as you mature; however, if you are lacking in a particular skill there are psychology courses that can help you.


As a psychologist, you’ll be dealing with people from all walks of life. Some of them may have problems that you feel are trivial, while others may be dealing with issues that you have difficulty identifying with. It is important that you always remain clinically detached yet compassionate for the patient, and try to understand what they’re going through. By putting yourself in the patient’s shoes you can better understand how difficult of a time they are having, and perhaps you can help them find a resolution.

Communication Skills

The majority of the time when you are meeting with patients you’ll be listening. Psychologists need to be able to not only hear what the patient is saying, but also hear what they are not saying. They need to be able to ask questions that help the patient open up, and provide more information about their issue so the psychologist can help them. Everything you say and do during a session must be for the good of the patient, and must help build trust. Even if you are having a bad day, your entire attention must be focused on the patient.


When you are working with a patient, you must never feel in a rush or make the patient feel like you are rushing them. Some cases may take years to resolve, so patience is key. Psychology is a unique medical field, and very unlike most diagnostic medicine. Finding the root cause of an issue can take many sessions so you have to be able to bide your time.

Attention to Detail

Whether you are working in a clinic or a research facility, your work as a psychologist must be above reproach. Every action you take, every prescription you write, and every observation you have must be carefully noted. Failure to do so could result in a lawsuit or the dissolution of a research grant. You must be able to take methodical notes of everything you do as a psychologist in order to protect yourself and your work.

Lifelong Learning

Like most medical fields, the practice of psychology is constantly changing. There are always new studies, new medications, and new diagnosis. A successful psychologist must be willing to commit to staying on top of the latest trends, and keeping their psychology skills maintained. This may mean that they have to regularly attend seminars or conferences, and read research papers. By doing so they can ensure that they are providing their patients with the best possible care.

Emotional Stability

Obviously, it is difficult to become a psychologist if you yourself have significant emotional or behavioral problems. Psychologists need to not only be mentally stable, they must be able to remain emotionally detached from their patients. Although over time you may feel a connection with a patient, you must always remain a professional. When you are dealing with severe mental issues it can be quite difficult to remain detached, especially if you are a particularly compassionate person. Part of your training in psychology will help you to strike a balance between compassion and remaining an observer.

This challenging career gives you the ability to make significant improvements in people’s lives. While a career as a psychologist should not be entered into lightly, it can be a fantastic job.

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