Career and Job Search Guide

Navy Psychologist

Most psychologists do not interact with their patients daily. This can make it difficult to determine whether recommended treatment strategies are helping patients. However, it is not uncommon for navy psychologists to visit with patients daily on a battleship or aircraft carrier.

This can pose some challenges because navy psychologists and sailors frequently become friends since they live in close proximity to each other, but navy psychologists get the opportunity to see how their treatments and recommendations are working. If both sailors and navy psychologists remain professional, it is possible to administer and receive treatment and be friends at the same time.

Few psychology professionals have the same experiences as navy psychologists. Since it can be very emotionally taxing living on a ship for extended periods of time, navy psychologists get the opportunity to meet with most sailors, including officers, while being away at sea.

It is also very physically stressful while being away at sea. Sailors must wake up very early in the morning and participate in drills for a good portion of the day. They must also sleep in very small spaces. Moreover, most sailors are young adults who often become homesick and are unable to effectively handle emotional problems.

Depression is another common problem on navy ships. This is often a result of being away from family members for extended periods of time. To assist sailors struggling with depression, navy psychologists develop therapies designed to cope with short-term depression. If this does not help and the depression becomes more intense, psychologists frequently utilize cognitive-behavioral treatments to help depressed sailors.

It is not uncommon for navy psychologists to consult with or treat officers. Navy psychologists frequently discuss the mental health of sailors with their superiors. If it is necessary, they may recommend that a struggling sailor be assigned different responsibilities.

Navy psychologists also organize support groups onboard ships to help groups of sailors collectively cope with the stresses associated with being on a ship for months at a time.

Many navy psychologists are involved with the development of the Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape program (SERE). This program is designed to prepare members of the elite Navy SEAL teams survive for extended periods of time behind enemy lines. It is also designed to teach them how to deal with intense enemy interrogations.

Navy psychologists work closely with sailors and other members of the armed forces at military and veterans hospitals. Psychologists who do not want to join the navy, but work at navy hospitals, can still do so.

As with the other branches of the military, navy psychologists work with both service members and their families. Families often struggle as they help their loved ones cope with traumatic injuries and psychological scars.

Since the navy is in need of qualified psychologists, it is offering tuition assistance and signing bonuses to interested individuals. However, opportunities for civilian psychologists also exist at navy hospitals and nonprofit groups assisting veterans.

Graduate students in psychology programs who are required to complete internships should consider completing one with the navy. These internships are usually paid and offer students the opportunity to acquire clinical experience.