If you have never seen the inside of a psychologist’s office, then chances are that your perception is highly coloured by popular culture and media. In the media, psychologists are often portrayed as quirky or elusive people with a magical ability to read your mind instantly and provide a cure. Unfortunately, given the dramatic nature of shows and movies, the patient’s symptoms and challenges are dialled up, giving the impression that psychologists are only for “severe challenges”. Fortunately, psychologists in real life are people just like us, with the same traits, behaviours and occasional quirks. Let’s debunk some of the common misconceptions about psychologists to make informed decisions and break myths:

1. Psychologists can read your mind

Just as physicians cannot confirm diseases or infections without running tests, psychologists don’t have a magical lens into your mind. They neither read nor claim to read our minds. However, psychologists are trained to analyze behaviour and make diagnoses based on scientific and standardized procedures. They study the intricacies of human behaviour and traits with the help of experiments.  What they can do, however, is learn some of your patterns of thinking based on therapy sessions and cues. Psychologists never assume but rather form a hypothesis and carry out experiments and tests to confirm those hypotheses.

2. Psychologists dig deep into your childhood

While childhood forms the basis of many psychological assessments, therapy is not simply talking about your childhood. Based on the symptoms and challenges that an individual faces, psychologists may focus only on the present to improve your emotional and mental well-being.

3. Psychologists simply use common sense

This is one of the most popular myths that psychology or therapy is plain old, common sense. While common sense is an important facet of any profession, psychology relies on experiments and research to accept or reject hypotheses. Psychologists use systematic and objective methods of observation and experimentation and decide the course of treatment and therapy.

4. Psychologists only treat mentally ill people

Mental and emotional well-being is increasingly becoming an integral part of an individual’s overall health. Psychologists not only treat psychological disorders but also help with several everyday problems. Traumatic events such as death, break-up, divorce, loss of job, unexpected crises, illness etc, can take a toll on the most resilient of people. Psychologists use talk therapy to provide the right direction for people to live their optimum lives and cope with stress. Today even organizations hire industrial or organizational psychologists to improve their hiring process, improve workplace culture and morale and design a strategy to create a healthy work environment.

5. Psychologists analyze you

This is one of the most intimidating thoughts or myths that prevent many people from accessing help when they need it the most… The idea that psychologists have your number and judge you in some way is highly misleading. On the contrary, nobody understands human nature and its frailties better than psychologists and they listen to you intently intending to form an in-depth understanding of your challenges. They are the last people to assume things and use a scientific approach to understand human behaviour and traits.

6. Psychology is not a science

Psychology is a type of natural science where psychologists test the relationships between brain function and behaviour or environment and behaviour.  Psychologists don’t make claims based on experience, biases or hindsight. They use evidence and research-based approaches to evaluate issues and come to a conclusion. Psychologists collect information for research using questionnaires, observations, and standardized tests, and with the help of statistics, they derive meaning and insights from this data. Psychology is all pervasive and therapists work in the world’s most reputed companies and organizations from NASA to Boeing, governments, healthcare organizations and research groups.  To sum it up, psychologists use standard and scientific protocols to make predictions.

7. Psychology is the same as psychiatry

Both psychologists and psychiatrists study the same subject which is mental health. However, the qualifications, approach and methods used are quite different and often complementary to each other. Psychiatry is a branch of medicine and psychology is a separate discipline in itself. While both psychologists and psychiatrists can diagnose mental illnesses, only psychiatrists are licensed to prescribe medication. On the other hand, psychologists use talk therapies and exercises suited for specific conditions. Many cases warrant the help of psychologists and psychiatrists who then work in tandem to diagnose and treat mental illness.


Misconceptions come in many shades but some notions are wildly incorrect. One notion that psychological disorders are caused by a chemical imbalance is also highly controversial and debunked by modern scientists.  When it comes to mental health, it is helpful to speak with your physician or a mental health professional to resolve any questions and break the stigma.