A psychologist is a scientist or professional who uses psychological knowledge in some positive way. Psychologists are not medical doctors and cannot prescribe medicine, but have obtained at least a master’s degree and, more often, a doctorate degree in psychology. Psychologists are not trained in the medical model of psychiatric illnesses; instead, they use specially designed tests to help diagnosis and treat patients. The focus of the practicing psychologist is often teaching clients to cope with their psychological or interpersonal issues and handle stressors in better, healthier ways.
An addiction psychologist is a practicing clinician whose practice is devoted to identifying and treating drug addiction and alcoholism in patients. Because addiction rarely occurs in a vacuum, addiction psychologists often become expert at identifying co-occurring disorders such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and often encourage family members of the addict to participate in a treatment program when warranted.
Addiction psychologists carry out their work in a variety of settings including hospitals, residential drug and alcohol treatment centers and outpatient treatment centers. Depending on their personal style of therapy, they may treat patients individually, as part of a larger group, or with the patient’s friends and family members.