How Do Psychologists Analyze People?

When someone finds out I'm a clinical psychologist the number one question I get is are you analyzing me it's also the number one questions you want me to answer here's the honest answer yes I am and no I'm not let's start with the yes as a clinical psychologist I focus on understanding thoughts feelings and actions that are out of the ordinary if psychologists see someone at public moving in unexpected ways speaking loudly.

And saying things that don't make sense my training kicks in I automatically question if they're under the influence of a drug or our experiencing manic episode of bipolar depression have a tick or something else I can't help that when psychologists see something out of the norm it automatically triggers a network of memories related to everything I've learned about clinical psychology this is how memory works.

Clinical psychology

And we all have some kind of unconscious bias but let's replay what I just said I automatically question if they're under the influence of a drug or our experiencing a manic episode of bipolar depression have a tick or something else notice how psychologist couldn't give you an exact explanation of what's happening I can't understand what you're thinking and feeling just by looking at you I need to know what's going on in your head.

And what you're experiencing in your body the only way to find that out is by asking this gets us to the no part of my answer as a clinical psychologist people come to me because it's problem not feeling like yourself a lot of fights with a partner school or work isn't going well or you can't do something you need to do stuff like that I asked questions and eventually figure out a diagnosis maybe it's anxiety depression an eating disorder or something else.

But the diagnosis is just the beginning of my work a diagnosis tells me a lot about the problems you're experiencing and what type of treatments might work but it doesn't tell me anything about why you're experiencing these problems or how psychologist can customize a treatment to fit your need that's why I dig deeper and that's where the real analyzing comes in I talk to my patients about their past to identify origins to their problem like a genetic risk importing events in their past what their family was like where they grew up.

Clinical psychologist

And important parts of their culture I'll also ask about precipitants recent changes that might have triggered these problems or maybe these problems worse but the real magic of a clinical psychologist is how we identify mechanisms are the things that cause your problem think of them like an engine when this engine turns on it causes all these problems to occur this engine was built up over time by these origins.

And was turned on by the key that in your precipitate remember when psychologist talked about my own social anxiety disorder here's how it looks graph in this conceptualization what's super important to understand is the same problem can be caused by different mechanisms lots of parents come to me because their kid is misbehaving in class but misbehaving could be caused by a number of mechanisms like difficulty organizing information.

That is being taught during class not getting enough sleep getting attention from other students feeling unsafe around others trying to suppress thoughts that might be popping up in your head or maybe something else psychologists know I keep saying maybe something else but that's human behavior it's complicated.

And it's hard to find one simple explanation for why anyone does what they do psychologist will make a decision about misbehaving mechanisms based on what the kid has told me their parents perspective what the school says the current scientific research on the topic and my experience treating these problem then in treatment everything Psychologists do will target this mechanism the root cause of the problems this whole process it's all collaborative my patient.

Psychologists Analyze

And I do it together I don't keep secrets from my patients when it comes to what I think is causing their problem I'll tell them what psychologists think is going on and checking with them to see if it makes sense given what they're experiencing I might be the expert on clinical psychology but they're the expert on them this is why I hate the question are you analyzing me I can't analyze you without you because I can't read your mind.

And I would never even try to do that without your permission or your cooperation this way psychologists are prohibited from analyzing public figures seeing someone on TV doesn't give you any information about what they're thinking or feeling and without their permission it's unethical to even try telling clinical psychologists hate this question.

So much that they'll pretend to be someone else in social situations seriously there is an article about a colleague of mine who tells people he's an accountant when he's sitting on the airplane because he just doesn't want to deal with this whole issue the next time you need a clinical psychologist please don't ask them if they're analyzing you they're not instead ask more open-ended question like what's it like to be a psychologist I promise it'll lead to a much more interesting conversation what questions do you have clinical psychology let me know in the comments below.



Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License