When most people think about psychology, they imagine sitting on a therapist’s couch and talking about their feelings. And whilst talking therapy is a very important part of psychology, there is a lot more to it. In this article, we take a look at 5 things you didn’t know about psychology and outline why it might be a great option for you.
1. Psychology is older than you think
Psychology is by no means a 21st or even 20th-century phenomenon. The history of psychology can be traced back to ancient civilizations such as Egypt, Greece, and China, where people sought to understand the nature of the mind and behaviour. However, modern psychology as a scientific discipline emerged in the late 19th century when Wilhelm Wundt then established the first psychology laboratory at the University of Leipzig in Germany in 1879.
Around the same time, other prominent figures in psychology emerged, including William James in the United States, who emphasised the importance of studying behaviour and mental processes, and Sigmund Freud in Austria, who developed psychoanalytic theory and focused on the role of the unconscious mind in shaping behaviour.
Throughout the early 20th century, psychology continued to evolve and develop new theories and approaches. Behaviourism, which emphasized the study of observable behaviour, became dominant in the 1920s and 1930s, while humanistic psychology, which emphasized individual growth and self-actualization, emerged in the 1950s and 1960s. In the latter half of the 20th century, cognitive psychology, which focuses on mental processes such as attention, perception, and memory, became prominent. Other subfields, such as developmental psychology, social psychology, and clinical psychology, also emerged and continue to be active areas of research today.
2. Your psychologist is a qualified expert
Unlike counselling, which is unregulated in Australia and can be performed by almost anyone, psychologists are subject to several important regulations. These include being qualified with the appropriate degree and training, as well as being obligated to abide by a code of ethics, and participate in ongoing professional development. Seeing a psychologist rather than a counsellor means you’re consulting with an expert trained in the mind, human behaviour, and mental health. For this reason, psychologists are better equipped to see clients with more complex or challenging mental health concerns such as chronic depression, anxiety, PTSD, severe drug addiction or substance abuse issues, and more. Keep in mind though, each psychologist will specialise in different areas. If you are struggling with addiction, for example, seeing a psychologist who has expertise in this area is important. Likewise, if you are battling chronic depression, seeing a psychologist with experience and training in treating depression is advisable.
3. Your psychologist may offer a range of therapies to you
As we’ve discussed above, psychology is a complex field that is evolving all the time as we learn more and more about the human mind and behaviour. Your psychologist may offer a variety of therapies to you in your sessions. From Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR), and Hypnotherapy, your psychologist will first assess your needs and preferences, before designing a treatment plan that offers you the best chance of success. Your treatment may involve one type of therapy or a mix of therapies, depending on what you’re struggling with and which therapies are best suited to you. Read more about the different types of therapies offered by the Gold Coast Psychologist at Integrated Health Specialists under our services tab.
4. Your body and your mind are intrinsically linked
The body and mind are intimately connected, and research has shown that mental and physical health are closely intertwined. Here are a few examples:
Stress: Stress can have both physical and mental effects on the body. When the body is stressed, it releases hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which can lead to physical symptoms like increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and digestive issues. At the same time, stress can also have a negative impact on mental health, leading to symptoms like anxiety, depression, and irritability.
Exercise: Exercise has been shown to have a positive impact on both mental and physical health. Regular exercise can help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, and can also have a positive impact on mental health by reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression and improving overall mood.
Sleep: Good sleep is essential for both mental and physical health. Lack of sleep can lead to physical symptoms like fatigue and a weakened immune system, as well as mental health symptoms like mood swings, anxiety, irritability, and difficulty concentrating.
Mind-body practices: Practices such as meditation and mindfulness can help to promote relaxation and reduce stress, which can have a positive impact on both mental and physical health, including reduced stress, lower cortisol levels, better sleep, and improved concentration.
5. You are what you eat – it’s true!
Nutritional psychology is a field that studies the connection between nutrition and mental health. This emerging field recognises that the foods we eat can have a significant impact on our mood, behaviour, and cognitive function. Research has shown that a balanced diet rich in whole foods, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats can reduce the risk of mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, whilst a diet high in sugar, processed foods, and unhealthy fats can increase the risks.
That’s not to say that indulging in the occasional ‘Happy Meal’ is going to result in depression. Each of us has a range of complex risk factors that play into how vulnerable we are to developing certain mental and physical health concerns. But there is no doubt, eating well and having a healthy relationship with food can do wonders for your mind and your body, and ensure longevity.
Importantly, a psychologist with expertise in nutritional psychology also understands that simply trying to ‘eat healthy’ is not as simple as it sounds. In addition to the direct impact that food has on mental health, nutritional psychology also recognises the social, cultural, and behavioural factors that can influence our eating habits and determine our relationship with food and our body image.
Here at Integrated Health Specialists, we take a holistic approach to psychology, considering the complex factors that impact our health. We operate on the principle that our mental and physical health are intertwined. By utilising a range of therapeutic techniques, we can help you to improve both your mental and physical health, to lead the kind of life you want to live. Get in touch with us today to book an appointment and find out more.