Psychology is the study of the human mind and behaviour. Practitioners of psychology are called psychologists, and whilst not medically trained like psychiatrists, have to undergo many years of training. The word comes from the Greek for soul or mind, and study. The main role of the psychologist is to treat the patient by analysing and altering their behaviour patterns, primarily through therapy and counselling. They might work alongside psychiatrists if the patient is in need of medical treatment for their condition.
Whilst the majority of work involves treating patients, there is also work to be done in research and applying knowledge to a wide range of areas such as law, forensics, education and the workplace. There are many areas to be studied, including cognition, emotion, behaviour, perception, motivation and development, as well as the unconscious mind. The typical image of the psychologist sitting in an armchair whilst his patient lies on the couch, talking about his childhood, is one of clinical psychology and psychotherapy, where the practitioner is using his knowledge of the subject to understand his patient, and to relieve him of his problems by encouraging him to explore his feelings and find new ways to deal with those feelings and thus alter his behaviour.
However, there are many other branches of psychology that are not as well known. Biological psychology studies behaviour at a cellular and genetic level, looking at the way these affect learning and emotional responses, and the way disease can alter the brain as well. Cognitive psychology studies our mental processes including how we reason and learn, our emotions and perception and language. Comparative psychology studies animals other than humans, looking at evolutionary patterns and possibly using the information gathered as another viewpoint on human psychology. As well as educational psychology, which studies how we learn and helps to promote the best educational environment from the research findings, there is also developmental psychology which looks at how humans develop over their lifespan both socially, intellectually and morally. The key areas here are childhood, adolescence and the elderly. Personality psychology is about the individual and their behaviour, thoughts and emotions. There are various theories on the way personality develops and the importance of childhood experiences and other external factors, balanced with internal ones such as the unconscious. Social psychology studies the way a society works, and how people think and react with each other in a group. It covers group dynamics, conformity and stereotypes as well as belief systems.