Psychology is the science that studies the psychic and mental processes, in their conscious and subconscious components, using scientific methods and/or relying on an intrapersonal subjective perspective. This study therefore concerns the cognitive and intra-psychic processes of an individual, the individual and group behaviour, and the relations between the patient and the environment.
Currently, psychology is a composite discipline; its research methods are experimental (laboratory or field) or ethnographically oriented (for example, some cultural psychology approaches); they have an individual dimension (for example, psychophysical studies, individual psychotherapy, etc.) or they pay greater attention to the social and group aspect (for example, the study of the psychological dynamics in organizations, work psychology, etc.). These different approaches have produced different psychological sub-disciplines, with different epistemological-cultural matrices of reference. In particular, the use of the scientific method in some fields is evident in the observation/measurement outside of the psychic-cognitive phenomena and in the joint use of statistics as a tool for analysis of the data collected.
Psychology is different from psychiatry, which is a medical discipline focused on the pharmaceutical treatment of psychopathological disorders; it does share with clinical psychology however certain aspects relating to psychotherapeutic interventions.
Psychotherapy is a therapeutic practice of clinical psychology carried out by a psychotherapist (adequately specialised psychologist or doctor), who treats psychopathological disorders of the psyche of a different type and nature. They range from a modest maladjustment or personal hardship to severe symptoms, and can manifest themselves in neurotic or psychotic symptoms such as to jeopardise the individual’s well-being, and cripple the individual from living his/her normal day-to-day life.
The word ‘psychotherapy’ concerns the treatment of the psyche carried out with psychological tools such as an interview, interior analysis, discussion, relationship etc., aiming at the conscious change of the psychological processes which determine the malaise or inappropriate lifestyle, and often characterized by symptoms such as anxiety, depression, phobias, etc.
Professionally, psychotherapy in Italy is a health specialization reserved for doctors and psychologists registered with their respective professional Associations, and it is achieved through a training course at postgraduate university schools of specialisation, or private graduate schools. The latter must be formally recognised and authorized by a special Commission - MIUR (Ministry of University and Research) to provide the relevant specialised training.
During clinical practice, the psychologist provides health services directed to personal care, psychological support, and treatment of mental disorders in their clinical practice.
The psychological-clinical intervention is in fact the ensemble of psychological interventions in relation to relational and psychosocial disturbances, mental problems and illness, made through diagnostic, knowledge and intervention tools of psychology. While the smaller area of psychotherapy is only one of these forms of intervention, that does not use all the tools of psychological intervention for which the psychologist is enabled, regardless of whether he/she is also a psychotherapist.
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