This page provides some background information to help you understand what a psychologist is and whether is the right specialist for you.

If you native language is Italian and you find easier to speak to a doctor in your mother-tongue, please check out our directory of Italian speaking psychologists in London and the UK

A psychologist is a professional who, after receiving the relevant training, has the skills to help people to cope with personal issues and mental health problems.

After completing a degree in Psychology accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS), a person who wants to become a professional psychologist will need some working experience in the chosen specialism and a BPS accredited postgraduate qualification related to it.

Psychologists can work in:

  • Clinical (dealing with conditions such as anxiety, stress, mental illness);

  • Counselling (helping patients to manage difficult life events);

  • Forensic (analysing criminal behaviour and working with offenders to modify their future choices. They can also provide consultations to Courts during legal proceedings);

  • Health (promoting positive changes in people’s attitudes towards health);

  • Organisational (focusing on the productivity and well-being in the workplace);

  • Neuropsychology (helping patients with brain injuries to recover);

  • Education (identifying, for example, academic strengths and weaknesses of students);

  • Sports (to improve patients’ motivation and performance).

In order to assess the patient’s needs, they rely on: direct observations, interviews and techniques (such as psychometric testing).

Psychologists can use different treatments, but the most common is therapy (often referred to as psychotherapy). There are different types of therapy, such as: cognitive, behavioral, cognitive-behavioral, interpersonal, humanistic and psychodynamic. It can also be for individuals, couples or different groups.

Although psychologists often work together with psychiatrists, their background and expertise are different. Unlike psychologists, psychiatrists are qualified doctors and can therefore prescribe medications.