Who May Need to See a Cognitive Psychologist?

The cognitive psychologist is a specialist in the discipline that focuses on internal thought processes, such as cognition, metacognition, language acquisition, memory, and social psychological responses. How does one decide that a visit to this type of specialist is the right choice for them? The article below outlines some of the more familiar disorders or complications with which these psychologists can help.

Is It Organic?

One of the first steps of diagnosis of a psychological disorder or a carefully defined disease is to determine whether some biological factor is at the root of it. Several brain disorders are caused by an imbalance in dopamine receptor functions or an abnormality in the form of a portion of the brain’s anatomy. Even in some of these cases, cognitive therapies can prove beneficial.

While much of the subfield’s focus is on the formation of thought, memory, and the more complex idea structures that accompany physical perceptive and sensory data, they may also investigate degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease. They also conduct work in the realm of speech pathology and retention, since the regions of the brain most integral to speech are also those that deal with complex problem solving, spatial reasoning, abstract thought, sympathetic nervous response and social behaviors, and even music.

Memory and the Ability to Forget

What about disorders that are the result of traumatic experiences? These include post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, phobias, social phobias, depression, and others. As noted above, a cognitive psychologist specializes their focus on memory and cognition, which can include how memory sometimes malfunctions and results in one of these disorders. According to the American Psychological Association, cognitive behavioral therapy has shown substantial promise when used as a therapeutic approach in such cases.

Emotional processing theory notes the decisive links an individual forms between a damaging or traumatic event and passive or safe items and ideas that recall the trauma. These may be household items, news stories, or even familiar individuals. The social cognitive theory describes the ways in which the brain may attempt to integrate trauma into an existing model of self-ideation. CBT can help to disentangle these associations and gently unloop the fixed memory associated with the traumatic experience.

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Finding the Words

The act of speaking isn’t merely physical. Because it requires a great deal of pre-production thought and uses more than a single area of the brain, speech pathology is another area that tends to involve cognitive psychology. According to Dr. Steve Abel’s Theories of Speech Production, the spreading-activation theory stipulates that the process of imagining and forming words occurs at distinct mental levels.

Pathologies violate one or more of the rules that govern these levels, which can lead to the use of an incorrect word, an incorrect word placement, or a juxtaposition of two distinct words. In addition to visiting speech therapists, individuals with a speech disorder might also consider consulting a cognitive specialist or tailor their choice of a therapist to one with expertise in this field.

Related Resource: 30 Most Influential Cognitive Psychologists Alive Today

Because the range of potential focuses is so broad, these specialists may refine their practices to one of the areas discussed above. Whether individuals are seeking to alleviate PTSD, social anxiety, depression, or speech difficulty, they will likely benefit from consultation. However, a cognitive psychologist can also use the latest research to assist individuals with Alzheimer’s or any disease that impacts the brain’s ability to perceive, emote, and recall.