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What does a Military Psychologist do?

Jessica Ellis
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A military psychologist is a mental health professional who primarily handles mental issues associated with military organizations. Psychologists are very important to many military groups, as they can assist in the identification of candidates for special jobs, analyze the mental risks of combat and other related situations, and help device strategies for information gathering. A military psychologist can also help returning troops deal with emotional trauma and readjustment to civilian life, both serious concerns for those soldiers and military personnel returning from combat situations.

Military psychologists may be civilians or military personnel. They can operate in many different situations and have an extensive educational background that assists them with a variety of responsibilities. A military psychologist will most likely have a PhD, MD, or PsyD degree, though some positions do not require board certification. Though some positions allow candidates to apply while still completing a dissertation, many others require several years of professional experience in a clinical or research capacity. Age limits, physical health, and criminal history can also impact the availability of certain jobs.

There are many different types of jobs within a military organization for a psychologist. Some work with military families as well as troops and may be stationed on bases, while others are actually deployed with troops to battle zones to provide care in situations both stressful and dangerous. Many work at military hospitals or clinics to help address issues associated with injuries, post-traumatic stress, depression, substance abuse, and other mental health problems common to returning or injured troops.

One long-standing job of a military psychologist is to assist with intelligence tests and evaluations. These tests are given to identify enlisted men or women that may have a special aptitude for a job, as well as to measure the general aptitude of all new military recruits. This helps military organizations ensure that the right people are going to the right positions for their skills.

A military psychologist with an interest in counter-insurgency and intelligence gathering may be able to find a research position in the field. Psychological studies are very important to the development of interrogation techniques that produce valuable military intelligence. Many experts believe that psychologists can play an important role in diverting interrogation tactics away from the possibility of physical abuse and torture; by training interrogators to gain the trust of prisoners through psychology, some experts believe that more truthful information can be gained at a fast pace.

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Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for Practical Adult Insights. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.
Discussion Comments
By bluedolphin — On Sep 25, 2013

@feruze-- I don't think it matters for the military, but as far as I know, most of the military psychologists right now are civilians. Many psychologists are interested in working with the military but they want to remain civilian because they don't want to be deployed. I think this works out fine for the military as well. Civilian psychologists are either hired directly or as contractors by the Department of Defense.

Also, not all psychologists are on the field. Many do screening here at home and I think some are doing research on military psychology as well.

By bear78 — On Sep 25, 2013

Does it matter if a military psychologist is a civilian or a military personnel?

By turquoise — On Sep 24, 2013
Being a military psychologist must be the hardest, but also the most satisfying psychology job out there. Battle wreaks havoc with people's psychology and it's extremely important to have a psychologist that the troops can seek help from. I feel the same way about military chaplains. These people are extremely important on the field.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
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