What is Psychology?
Psychology is an academic and practical field that involves the scientific study of mental functions and behaviours. Psychology has the immediate goal of understanding individuals and groups that involves establishing general principles as well as understanding specific and individual experiences of their people.
Psychologists attempt to understand the role of mental functions in individual and social behaviour, while also exploring the physiological and biological processes that underlie thought processes and behaviours.
There are five categories of registration in psychology in South Africa, i.e. Clinical, Counselling, Educational, Industrial and Research Psychology. All Psychologists who practice in their respective fields must be registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).
What is Educational Psychology?
An educational psychologist is concerned with helping children or young people who are experiencing problems within an educational setting with the aim of enhancing their learning. Challenges may include social or emotional problems or learning difficulties. Educational Psychologists’ may work with individual clients (children and parents) or groups, for example, teachers and schools. Educational Psychologists are often trained in Play Therapy – a specific counselling approach in which games, toys and mediums such as clay, drawings and paint are used. Play helps children to express their emotions, thoughts, wishes and needs. This technique allows a child to use play to communicate at their own level and pace, without feeling interrogated or threatened.
What is Counselling Psychology?
Counselling psychology focuses on providing therapeutic treatments to clients who experience a wide variety of symptoms. Through therapeutic interventions, Counselling Psychologists facilitate personal and interpersonal functioning and overall well-being across the life span with a focus on emotional, social, occupational, educational, health-related, developmental and organizational concerns. The individual approach a therapist takes depends on a wide range of factors including his or her educational background, training and theoretical perspective.
What is Clinical Psychology?
Clinical Psychology is branch of psychology concerned with the assessment and treatment of mental illness and behavioural problems. While both clinical and counselling psychologists perform psychotherapy, those working as clinicians typically deal with clients suffering from more severe mental illnesses. It involves the integration of the science, theory and clinical knowledge for the purpose of understanding, preventing, and relieving psychologically-based distress or dysfunction and to promote subjective and behavioural well-being and personal development.
Clinical psychologists provide psychotherapy, psychological testing, and diagnosis of mental illness and abnormal behaviour. As with all our therapists, our clinical psychologists at PAWC work from a variety of theoretical frameworks and have experience and various expertise in other sub-disciplines including, child and adolescent therapy, neuropsychology, and forensic related work.
Clinical psychologists often work with clients’ suffering from mental illness such as psychological trauma, addiction, eating disorders, sleep disorders, sexual dysfunction, clinical depression and bipolar disorders, anxiety, phobias, and psychotic disorders.
What is Child Psychology?
Child Psychology is an area of specialisation that focuses on the mental, social and emotional development of children. Typically, psychologists working with children look at development from the birth through adolescence. Some of the major topics of interest in this field of psychology include genetics, language development, personality, gender roles, cognitive development, sexual development and social growth. Child psychologists may work with a range of clients including infants, toddlers, children and teens (as well as parents or primary caregivers), or they may specialise in working with a particular age group. In short, psychologists working with children focus on helping understand, prevent, diagnose and treat developmental, cognitive, social and emotional issues within their scope of practice.
In South Africa, the HPCSA has no registration category for Child Psychologists, but Registered Clinical, Counselling and Educational Psychologists may choose to specialise with working with children in their practice.