How Do You Become a Behavioral Psychologist?

Behavior PsychologistIf you are fascinated by what motivates people to do the things they do, you might like to become a behavioral psychologist. Behavioral psychology focuses on the observable behavior of humans and uses the data obtained to draw conclusions about the factors that influence the behavior. Behavior is a learned construct and is subject to change. In this profession, you could also work with patients to help them learn new, healthy behaviors to replace old ones that are not serving them well, according to the American Board of Professional Psychology. The following information will provide you with a more thorough understanding of the field of behavioral psychology.

What a Behavioral Psychologist Does

Behavioral psychologists observe behaviors and work to determine the reason behind those behaviors so that problems can be addressed through behavioral modification. They assist their clients to find solutions to their issues through the learning of new behaviors and skills. In this role, you would assist clients to see which behaviors, or even thoughts, are destructive in order to understand the need for new, productive ones.

Work Settings

A large number of practitioners within the field of behavioral psychology will go into private practice, helping clients to address various behaviorally-based issues. If you were to choose this route, it’s possible you would choose a specialty area of practice. Some of these include depression, obesity, substance abuse or phobia. A specialization is not necessary for behavioral psychologists to treat patients.

Behavioral psychologists are also employed in schools to help address issues that may be disrupting the academic progress of students. In this capacity, you would likely fall under the title of school counselor. In addition, behavioral practitioners may sometimes work in a medical setting, such as a doctor’s office or a clinic, and serve to enhance the services provided to patients.

Educational Requirements

A minimum of a Master’s in psychology degree is usually required to become a behavioral psychologist; however, a doctorate is often needed. Licensure or certification may be a prerequisite for practice in some situations. Prior to obtaining an advanced degree, you will need to finish a Bachelor’s level program. This is also usually in psychology, but it doesn’t have to be.

.If you decide to pursue a doctorate, there are two options These are a Ph.D and a Psy.D. The PhD is traditionally the degree path for those looking to focus on research, while the Psy.D focuses more on clinical practice. Both are equally valid. An internship and minimum supervised practice hours will also be required of most doctoral candidates, especially those needing to pursue licensure. Finally, you will want to stay current on trends and developments within the profession in order to be an effective researcher or clinician. You can do this by attending conferences and reading scholarly journals.

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As you can see, the field of behavioral psychology offers a number of options. If you are passionate about human behavior and its causes, the path to become a behavioral psychologist may be the perfect choice for you.