Most commonly defined as “the science of mind and behaviour”, Psychology has many domains and applications. Consequently it is also very commonly misunderstood. There are two broad divisions in psychology. The first is the empirical and scientific investigation of human experience. The second refers to the application of the knowledge that emanates from this pool of investigation. A chartered psychologist will have experience of both. Therefore when one engages a psychologist in a therapeutic sense they can be aware that this psychologist has a grounding and schooling in the vast array of empirical research that inform this social science, in addition to a solid understanding of both how this has informed the creation and modification of therapeutic strategies in addition to a good experience in the practice of the various therapeutic strategies themselves.

From theory to therapy

The study and research of psychology therefore has informed the development of theory which in turn informs the establishment of therapeutic frameworks. These therapeutic strategies are then in turn evaluated and modified according to continued research in context, marrying these two complimentary aspects to the field of psychology, leading to the development and practice of evidence based treatment and the continued provision of intervention with outcomes consistent with that evidence base.

Of course crucial to this journey from theory to therapy is the actual practice; the practitioner. The individual practitioners fidelity to the models of practice is crucial, and highly predictive of therapeutic outcomes, placing a high level of responsibility on the Psychologist to, in essence, know what they are doing and essentially, get it right.

Way of Being

Furthermore, emerging research is highlighting as possibly even more important than what a therapist does, but in fact how they do it. Therefore the overall way of being that the therapist embodies, is critical to effective treatment, and central to this is the spirit of engagement, relationship building and compassionate, person centred guidance.

The practice of Psychology falls into a number of categories known as divisions (e.g. clinical, counselling, forensic, occupational, organisational, sports ad exercise, etc.) and spans an array of settings (e.g. mental health, sport, addiction, general health, the work place, private practice). 

Dr. Colin O’Driscoll

Read more about Addiction